How I Became A Leader Without Any Formal Training

by  Mark Ellis  |  Leadership Development
How I Became A Leader Without Any Formal Training

I’ve got a bit of a soft spot for Apple’s Chief Technology Officer, Kevin Lynch. He is a guy who is clearly more of a techie than he is a public speaker, yet whenever he takes to the stage during the Cupertino company’s huge product launches, Kevin never fails to impress.

It took Lynch twenty-four years to reach the position of CTO for the world’s largest company. That’s a colossal amount of time, but what impresses me the most is the way in which he appears to have developed strong leadership skills from virtually nothing.

I don’t doubt that Apple has invested considerable time and expense in leadership training for Lynch, but if he is, as I suspect, a somewhat more reserved guy (certainly, far more so than the late Steve Jobs), I understand exactly what he’ll have gone through to reach his current position.

I’ve not reached the heady heights of a top tier role at a company of Apple’s size, but I did spend ten years developing my own leadership abilities without any formal training, and in this post, I’d like to explain exactly how I went about it.

I Embraced Failure

I’d never led a team before, therefore I knew I’d get it wrong – regularly. And, with that in mind, I approached every task as manager knowing full well that I’d have to be ready to learn from my mistakes.

And, boy did I make some mistakes. But, each one taught me something new and, most importantly, proved that the people I managed were forgiving of them. Like me, they were only human, and could clearly see that I needed just as much support as they did.

I Learned From Video Marketing

I had something of an epiphany one day, which was that leadership is almost identical to video marketing. So much so, in fact, that if you look at the constituent elements that make a great video, you might spot the definition of leadership contained within.

For example, you need to build an audience as a leader, even if they’re stood right in front of you (why would they listen if you’re not engaging?). Likewise, and just as the sound quality within a video is important, so is that of your voice; you need to be authoritative, clear and concise. You should also never put on an act in front of your team, because they’ll respect you far more for being yourself.

The list goes on, but once I’d worked out how closely leadership resembled video marketing, I was able to mould myself into a star manager.

I Teamed Up With a Mentor

I quickly realised I couldn’t become a true leader on my own. And, because I’ve never been a fan of formal training, I sought help from elsewhere – specifically, a mentor.

Even the aforementioned Steve Jobs relied on a mentor, and countless leaders of the largest corporations in the world continue to do so. For little old me, teaming up with someone who had the experience and insight I lacked helped me come to terms with leadership and put my best foot forward.

Plus, sometimes, it’s just nice to have a shoulder to cry on.

I Never Assumed I Knew It All

Lastly, I never, ever stopped learning. Even when I had particularly great days managing the team, I avoided the temptation to assume I’d ‘cracked it’.

No one knows it all and, certainly, no one will ever master leadership. We’re all capable of it, but it’s a skill that will continue to develop for as long as the world turns on its axis.

If I can become a leader from nothing, you can do the same. The world is full of Kevin Lynch types – so why not join us?

What has your leadership journey been like? Tell me about it in the comments!
Photo Credit: Alphaspirit/123RF

About The Author

Articles By mark-ellis
Mark Ellis is a writer and the owner of Business Fiction, a copywriting service for businesses of all sizes. Mark’s considerable experience at director level and deep interest in personal and business success means he’s ready to comment on anything from workplace dynamics to personal improvement.  »  View Profile

What People Are Saying

Skip Prichard  |  25 Mar 2017  |  Reply

The last one. Yes. Many people achieve a level of success and then think that’s it. But the best of the best keep learning and growing. There’s no end to the opportunities for influence if we keep this learning mindset.

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