Leadership Practice

We asserted before that anyone can lead.  In fact, everyone does lead.  You lead.  (Really!)  You influence some other people on purpose.

If you're honest, you could lead better.  By "better" I mean that you could lead more people, more often, to more action, for a better purpose.  So how do you do that?  How do you improve as a leader?

  1. Recognize you are a leader. Like any multi-step program, this one has to be first.  You won't take any action if you still disagree with the initial assumption.
  2. Study leadership. Get a book on leadership.  Read it.  Actively read it.  Take 3 passes.  The first time through, just skim it and get the general outline.  On the second pass, underline key passages, or make notes.  Finally, on the third pass, go back over the areas that impressed you and see if there is more you need to highlight.  You might even blog or journal your thoughts to keep them for posterity.  You might also teach someone else about the book.  Then, get another one.  Don't quit.
  3. Copy a great leader. Who do you think is the greatest leader of all time?  I happen to follow the leadership of Jesus.  But I've also learned a lot from others, both those that follow him and those that do not.  For example, Abraham Lincoln, Robert E. Lee, Theodore Roosevelt, or current people such as Ken Blanchard, Warren Bennis, Jack Welch, even Barak Obama could be your model.  Whoever you decide to follow, copy them.  Find out their motives and passions.  Study the good and the bad written about them.  Don't be afraid to change if you learn things you don't like, too.
  4. Get a mentor or a coach. Find someone you admire and ask them if they would meet regularly with you to mentor you on leadership skills.  Don't waste their time though.  You need to work to be mentored.  You need to have some idea what you want to know and you need to prepare to take the advice you're given.
  5. Lead, or rather Serve. Like many other skills, nothing works like doing.  But you can't typically get elected to lead anything by asking.  Instead, you have to serve others.  Put someone else first.  Do something to help someone achieve their goals for their glory.  Increase your influence by serving.  Volunteer, coach a little league team, take on a project for a non-profit, or just put yourself in your coworker's shoes.  You can always serve your coworkers or friends.  The point: if you serve others to practice your leadership, you are rewarded with growth.  Position comes later.  If you pursue position, you won't get either.  People generally can tell a fake.  Serve others for their benefit and you will grow as a leader.  In time, followers will find you.

Takeaway: Lead by serving others.  You'll grow leadership skills and followers will find you.