Unusual Places to Develop your Leadership Skills

Improve your skills

Do you want to excel your leadership development? I think we all would say yes to that question. One irrefutable element to seeing your leadership skills increase is to be intentional about learning in your everyday life.

Your everyday life offers the opportunity to learn how to become a great leader and also how to avoid being a bad leader. Leadership lessons can come anyplace and at any time. Below are some of those unusual places you can learn and in the process develop your leadership skills:

While you are watching a movie-

Rich life and leadership lessons can be learned or relearned from almost any movie. This is done when you watch the movie with a learning lens. A learning lens is when you watch a film with the intent to takeaway something that you can apply into your leadership. This requires being open and aware of what you are watching and looking for key lessons you can grasp onto. You can still relax and enjoy the movie but be intentional about watching the film with a learning lens.

When you are around town-

You can learn while you are around your town or neighborhood. Whether it’s at a grocery store, park, community event, restaurant, clothing store, etc. Other people’s behaviors, business functions, and your surroundings can provide unlimited learning lessons. This can help you to learn about human behavior. Leaders have to master human behavior; how to influence, get along, work with, and deal with other people. Learning while you are around town can increase your people skills and allow you to become a better leader. Become aware of your surroundings and the other people around you.

While you are traveling-

Along with learning around your town, traveling can also offer learning opportunities. One key element of traveling is that it has the potential to break you out of your normal routine and move you outside your comfort zone. This is because it can position you to see and learn different things you might otherwise not have seen or learned. Being open to new experiences while traveling can offer you fresh learning lessons.

Questions: What are some other unusual places you can develop your leadership skills? What has been the most unusual or unlikely place you have learned something new?   

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Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Love all those places. There are lessons and opportunities everywhere. Great insight Dan.

    • Yes, we just need to have open eyes and ears. My family is going to the San Diego zoo today and I’m looking forward to some new learning lessons. Thank you for adding to the discussion.

      • Have fun at the zoo!

      • Good memories at the SD Zoo! Have a blast Dan. I’ll be expecting a post something along the lines of “Leadership Lessons from the Biggest Zoo in the US” haha.

        • We did Paul! I’ll have to consider that:) I learned a few different things while at the zoo. Love the title.

  • Nice new design! Your post is great, all about finding ways in our daily life. I find my mind gets a chance to think while I am on a walk.

    • Thank you Paul:) I’m loving the Get Notice theme!
      Walking is a great place to observe our surroundings, people watch, or take time to think. Thank you for taking the time to read and add to the discussion.

  • I learned a ton about leadership this year at pitching machine baseball. My son is seven and this was his first year in the “competive” league. Certain coaches encouraged the kids and instructed while others, shall I say, were not as encouraging. Certain parents were supportive and let their sons enjoy the game. Other parents treated it as though it was the World Series creating tension and unneeded nervousness in their sons which led to them usually not playing to their full potential. This is a great topic Dan that has my mind spinning at all the other places we can learn leadership skills.

    • What great lessons! Have you written about this on your blog, if not you should:)? It’s amazing to see some of those parents. Thank you for adding to the discussion.

      • Great idea Dan. I just added it to my to-do list.

        • I’m looking forward to reading that post!

  • Each time you interact with a business, whether it be a store, coffee shop, restaurant, hotel, etc., you have an opportunity to learn from their leadership and management style. Churches also provide an excellent place to learn from the successes and failures of leadership. And of course watching your favorite sports teams can lead to many leadership lessons.

    • I totally agree Chris! Great additional places to learn about life and leadership. The key is to be intentional about looking through a learning lens. Thank you for reading and adding to the discussion.

  • There are so many ways to observe leadership in action. you named some great ways.
    I’ve seen both good and bad examples of leadership in churches, at the park, picking my kid up at mothers day out, in line at the grocery store.

    When one is open to learning and willing to take the time to see the world around them, there are limitless ways to learn how to be a better leader and person.

    • Great points TC Avey! It’s about being aware of our surroundings and being open to learning. Thank you for adding to the discussion.

  • I love how you are giving out practical tips on how to see things from a leadership perspective. I believe it’s what perspective that matters. From there on, you see the same thing from a completely different slant. Thanks Dan for another great post!

    • Glad you enjoyed the post. It’s about learning everyday, the best leaders know that. Thank you for adding to the topic.

  • Cory Godwin

    In the local cafe over coffee. Every community large or small has it. A small cafe where the “seasoned citizens” gather for a cup of joe and the company of friends. Each morning I visit the local corner cafe before work, where I interact, but mostly LISTEN, to those who have been there and done that. You will need to visit often and work your way to their table by earning trust. Then you will enjoy true wisdom from those who endured the hardships of Depression, War, and Death and the joys of successful careers, family, and community service. This morning we said goodbye to year another of my morning coffee club friends, who passed on at 83. If you can’t find the cafe, visit your local senior center or assisted living facility. The leadership and life lessons are endless!

    • Hello Cory,
      I love going to a coffee place to watch and listen to other people. Knowledge and wisdom often come with age, It’s great you place yourself around those who are older and wiser than you. Thank you for adding to the discussion. I appreciate it.

  • I love the learning lens idea. One of the reasons I love films so much is for the lessons that can be found in many of them if you look hard enough. Another great place for developing or learning leadership skills, I think, is children’s books. Fiction books in general are a great place but children’s books in particular really provide a strong parabolic narrative that delivers so many lessons for life and leadership. Aesop’s fable of the tortoise and the hare is a classic example.

    • That’s why I like watching movies (However, I’m not able to watch as many as I would like). Great addition and idea. I read my 2 year old son a lot of books and often find leadership nuggets within them. I love Dr. Seuss books. Thank you for adding to the discussion.

    • Right on Micah…kids learning materials have great resources, including some well meaning cartoon strips. I agree.

  • Love this bro. It’s the as-you-go mentality (always be a learner!)

    • Love the verb age Dave! I’m going to use that one. Thank you for reading and adding to the post.

  • The principles given in the three ideas you write about are golden: 1.) Have a learning lens; 2.) Master human behavior; and 3.) Be open to new experiences. They are each so very important and combine to be even more powerful, kind of like the power of one horse vs. the power of a team of horses working together. Some of the most unusual places I’ve learned something new include while out running or biking when I just let my thoughts go and begin to really think through the events of my days. Just taking this time to process life helps me learn a tremendous amount.

    • Glad you took those things from the post:) While running is a great addition! I recently started to go to the gym and have been learning a lot about human behavior while working out. Thank you for taking the time to add to the discussion.

  • Floyd

    It’s that mentality where we see potential to learn in anything and everything that we show true wisdom. Just seeing how efficient the trash man is who now does the job of three men by himself is right out our front window. Good perspective, Dan.

    • Yes, it’s about learning from anyone and at anytime! Thank you for adding to the conversation.

  • These are good thoughts, Dan. You can definitely learn a lot about life and leadership just by being observant. So often, we just coast through life without really stopping to learn from our environments.

    • Glad you enjoyed the post Kent:) We have to change that if we want to move closer toward our learning potential. Thank you for adding to the discussion.

  • Three great ways to learn leadership lessons brother!

    • Thank you, glad you enjoyed them!

  • Dan, for me it has to be in Sports. There is a great deal to learn from team Coaches, especially in trying to formulate a comeback strategy by putting myself in their shoes. It’s fun when the Coach makes the call I ‘suggest’. Being a sports fan automatically makes me a protege of my team’s coach.

    • YES, that’s a huge area we can learn from. Whether coaching or observing a team play. Thank you for adding that great addition!

  • For me at Business meetings and events. I always have that Leadership lens on looking for great examples of Leadership that I can emulate and share with others. Thanks Dan for continuing to make us aware of places we can Lead.

    • Great addition Lincoln! I learn so much from the conferees I attend. Those types of meetings or events really can excel our growth. Thank you for adding to the addition:)

  • LOVE learning leadership lessons from movies. So many!

    • Me too! To many to count. Thank you for sharing.

  • I love learning leadership lessons from being a swim coach. 180 swimmers ages 4-18…so lots of leadership of young people. I have to work with my swim board. I also have to work and interact with all the parents of kids on the team. Learned some pretty amazing things!!!

    • So cool Kent, coaching is a great opportunity to learn. You should consider writing a blog post about what you have learned from being a coach:)

  • I love learning, and TEACHING, leadership lessons through movies. I show at least one movie in every course that I teach.

    • That’s great Chris! Movies have powerful stories and insights. Thank you for taking the time to share.