Learning is the power authentic leaders use to strengthen their identity and grow as a leader. If you have followed my blogs over the last 10 plus weeks, I have tried to take you a systematic journey of the book, The Crucible’s Gift (Available for pre-order on Amazon April 1st).

Let’s review how we have arrived at this juncture, where the leader recognizes that an authentic self is emerging and that supporting and growing it is essential. In the blog, The Gift of the Personal Crucible I broke down the role of crucibles and the three different layers. Bizarro is the first and most basic level of a crucible. Bizzaro crucibles occur when individuals are placed in a unique new environment; for example, when moving to a distant and unfamiliar location or starting a new job. The forced break is the second layer and is marked by life making choices for you. You could call this a life nudge. This may be getting laid off, going back to school or deciding to go on a spiritual journey. Avalanche is the final layer and is the crucible that feels like the world is coming down around you and you find it metaphorically hard to breathe. These crucibles might be the death of a loved one, a divorce or bankruptcy. However, each person’s crucible is unique, and no one can qualify or quantify a crucible for someone else. That said, generally speaking, the more significant the crucible, the more opportunities to work on self-awareness.

Thus, crucibles create opportunities for growth. In the blog Out of the Crucible, Leads to Better Self-Awareness, we discussed self-awareness, shedding light on the impact it can have on a leader’s success. This is not to say that success requires self-awareness: there are plenty of successful leaders who are financially successful but are far from authentic. But authentic leaders who embrace self-awareness as a tool for growth look inward for personal improvement, which results in better leadership. I believe that leaders who are highly self-aware strengthen personal and professional integrity and compassion, and take opportunities to create shared meaning with their colleagues. This process is ongoing — an authentic leader loves to learn.

Overall, a leader’s crucible is an opportunity to learn, and that learning can permeate their growth of integrity, compassion, and relatableness. Without the desire to grow, evolve and strengthen their leadership skills, a person is like a boulder — big and hard, and you get nothing out of it when you try to move it. Though learning, both self and other is important, it may be even more important for a leader to learn theories and topics that are not in line with their current thinking. It is easy to prove a current point of view, one that you’re known for, but carrying around accepted thinking for too long makes you stale. As with receiving feedback from your colleagues, it’s important to read varying opinions on your industry to flip your expertise on its head and test your assumptions.