A leadership career isn’t like a regular career. You don’t go to school for it, you can’t find many summer internships focused only on making you a better leader, and developing your leadership skills may not lead directly to a paycheck.
If you can’t merely read a book or take a class to hone your leadership skills, why do we put so much emphasis on them? The answer is simple: you have the opportunity to be a leader every single day.
If you intentionally cultivate your ability to make sure the example you’re setting is good, you’ll be a valuable asset wherever you go.
If you’ve noticed people eyeing your work and following your example, continue reading about how you can intentionally begin your leadership journey.
Your first entry into the workforce is an excellent time to begin developing your leadership skills. In addition to basic job preparation, you need to think intentionally about how you are going to lead with your actions. It’s too easy to blend in with everyone else as soon as you start getting the hang of how things are done at your workplace; leadership takes initiative.
Before you can lead anyone else, you have to be able to lead yourself. Self-instigation can be scary, but if you’re willing to risk occasional failure, you’ll see amazing results when you initiate your own growth.
Another part of self-leadership is taking responsibility for your own development. Ask yourself honest questions to see where you need to improve, like “How is this situation connected to my prior choices?” or “What am I going to learn today?” This gives you a greater sense of accountability for your own life and helps you find everyday ways to lead.
Once you’ve stopped waiting on directions and learned to lead yourself, you’re in a position to lead others. You can be a positive influence by acknowledging the good in your teammates and refusing to act in a volatile situation until you’ve had time to gather the facts.
In dealing with your superiors and senior co-workers, don’t be afraid to defer to their judgment and ask for their advice often; a good leader is always a good follower first. This will win you a lot of respect from people who might otherwise write you off as the newbie.
Lastly, as your influence grows and people start to recognize your leadership, even if you don’t officially hold a supervisory position, do not let yourself get a big head or try to throw your weight around. Your humility is the best measure of your security as a person and your worthiness to lead.
Being a leader doesn’t mean bossing around your colleagues. A true leader will be the first to tackle a difficult project and invite everyone to help. A poser will see a problem and demand that someone else fixes it.
Has leader always sounded like a mystical title to you, and you aren’t sure where natural leaders get their confidence? Have you been told that you have some leadership skills, but you just don’t see them? Tell us about your own leadership journey, and how you plan to start building your influence where you work.