Keeping Our Leadership Tank Full_3x5 Leadership

I think many of us spend a lot of personal time thinking on, learning more about, and talking with others about leadership. As a personal example, in a year, I may read several dozen or so books, listen to numerous podcasts, and consume hundreds of different articles aimed at informing how I can lead, influence, and develop other people better.

But, why? What does all this give me? Well, the first thing that comes to my mind is a long list of behaviors and attitudes that I need to start, improve, refine, and stop doing. Realizing this can be very overwhelming and humbling though; identifying all of the things I need to fix to lead and develop others better is hard. But I think there is a less tangible, but more important, benefit to this continued personal commitment to self-development: it keeps my leadership tank full.


I think we all have a “leadership tank” inside of us. To be the most effective leaders we can be, we need to keep our tanks full. Full tanks keep us inspired, effective, and committed to reaching our leadership potential.

The issue, though, is that we all inherently have holes at the bottom of our tanks that continue to drain them dry. Our holes can be many different things like laziness, selfishness, complacency, arrogance, fear, or even a lack of confidence. The holes are all the things that keep us from positively impacting others in the best ways that we know we can. Are we aware of our unique leadership “holes” – those vices that limit our leadership impact and effectiveness?

Beyond recognizing our tank’s holes, we must ensure that the amount we are pouring into our tanks is greater than what is draining out. Our leadership inputs must outweigh the draining outputs. If not, we devolve to uninspiring, ineffective, limiting leadership; we don’t reach our leadership potential.

So, how do we fill our tanks? I think one great way is continuing to practice leadership and seeing the positive impacts of our efforts on others is one great way – being in the arena and getting better through experiences. But we still need to build on our leadership capacity and knowledge in other ways. We need to commit to life-long learning on how we can keep leading more effectively, how we can scale it as we move to higher levels of leadership, or how to adapt to more challenging environments.

This is why I commit to a robust and consistent effort of self-development, why I choose to consume as much content and education about leadership as I can, and why I even choose to write. These are simple ways that I remain personally inspired – so that I keep my leadership tank full. Only then can I, as a leader, be the best version of myself and help fill others’ tanks as well. I may not translate everything I read or learn about into a new aspect of my leadership or my organization’s development, but this is a great way to keep pouring into my leadership tank.

Is your tank full? How are you keeping it full? Leader development occurs daily, not in day. One single, giant pour into our tank is insufficient for sustained leader effectiveness, inspiration, and capacity. We need to consistently pour in to keep our tank full. Only then do we remain inspired, effective, and reaching our potential as leaders.

I challenge you to be honest and clarify how you keep it full now and can do so better moving forward. Here are a few small ideas to help get you started today:

Lead well this week, friends.


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1 Comment

  1. A good discussion would also be about the practical ways to keep one’s energy to “do the do”. Tony Schwartz and Tim Loehr have a book called “The Power of Full Engagement” which speaks to energy management, specifically in the realms of the emotional, the physical, the mental, and the spiritual. They shoot down ideas of time management as well, which I’m glad they do.

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