You Want to Lead. Now What?
So, you've decided to become a leader.
You've already taken the first and one of the most important steps; you made a decision.
Most people never decide to take action; they simply react to life. Making a decision is crucial and admirable; decision-making takes courage, since without decision, there would be no risk.
Keep this in mind, success takes time and it is not an event, it is a process and a lifestyle, not a destination at which you arrive.
Deciding is the first step in the journey to becoming a leader.
Now that you have made the decision to develop as a leader and to stand out from the crowd, here are a few things that you can do on a daily basis to do so and move you along on your journey to success:
Take the extra step. We sometimes call this going the “extra-mile”.
Too often I find that most people are content with the status quo; they have no desire to grow as a person and little intent on developing their skills.
People who have no desire to lead do what is asked of them and, often times, nothing more.
To stand out and above the rest, you must show up early and stay late. Hit the gym harder and longer, stay until the last email is answered, finish grading that last piece of paper.
These are small things to do and what I've learned is that sometimes it's the small things that count the most.
You want to lead. Now what?
If you have a special skill, share it. If you have a life-experience you've learned from, share it. If you think you could help your team fill a knowledge or talent gap, show them how you may be the answer to their problem.
You don't have to be in human resources to train others on the job; all you need is the desire to help those around you and a willingness to get out of your comfort zone.
If you're nervous about overstepping and insulting your team, say this:
I wanted to share with the team something that I struggled with and how I not only overcame the challenge but how I've leveraged that experience to have future wins.
Just today, in speaking with a co-worker, I said something similar and we ended up sharing several great ideas with one another.
Get out of your comfort zone.
In order to lead, somewhere along the way, you'll have to get out of your comfort zone.
It could be anything from gathering the courage to volunteer, to standing in front of your peers to present, or coaching someone one on one. In each of these cases, you're stepping up as a leader. Any good boss or manager will recognize that.
If you've taken a personal inventory of those things you are and aren't good at, you'll be able to recognize where your comfort zone is. It could be public speaking or mentoring a single person. Whatever it is, get out there and test yourself.
Complacency won't get you to where you want to be. Going the extra step may involve getting out of your comfort zone.
Share your ideas and experiences.
Each of us has a unique view on the events that we witness and on the way things play out around us. This fact alone means that you have an experience that no other person can possibly have. Share with your peers what you observe.
If you have an idea about how to improve things around the office, share that with someone. Nothing in this world has come about that was not first conceived in the mind.
If you have an idea, put it in to action; develop a tool, create a process, you've already made the decision to lead, now you just have to move your feet.
A colleague of mine, Jonathan K. Dixon, has as his personal motto: “Inch by inch it's a cinch. Yard by yard it's hard.” Take things slow at first, set small and achievable goals, you don't have to take a giant leap the first time.
Make your goals and intentions known.
No one can help you in your journey to success if they don't know you're on it.
You can be the hardest worker on you team, the fastest in your group, or the smartest in your department, but no one will notice you're anything more than a hard worker if you don't make your goals and intentions known.
Not only will you be giving a voice to your goals, which is very important, but you're creating some self-accountability. If you tell someone you're going to achieve a goal, you're much more likely to stick with it along the way.
So tell your peers, tell your manager, and tell your friends your goals. They'll help you stay on track and may even be your eyes and ears and help you spot opportunities as they come up.
Through this and other articles on this site, you should be developing a pretty good outline on self-development. Change your mind and change yourself.
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