How to act/behave like a Leader even before you are one…

Three things you can do now to become a leader later:

1. Become the best at what you are doing today. If you are making widgets become the benchmark widget maker in the Organization. Be that person that everyone looks to as the SME on widget making (Subject Matter Expert). Become the go to person for all things widget in your Organization.

In my 35 plus years working in various organizations and assignments, I have been consistently surprised the number of times I have heard an executive comment on an individual many times below his/her stature within the organization, with the comment “I always have time for John/Sally.” John or Sally could be the Tech. support individual who comes around from time to time to fix the bosses laptop or a project manager who is driving a few projects for the organization – but in both cases, John or Sally have grabbed the bosses attention because they are SMEs at what they do.

2. Ensure you are consistently delivering to your current role’s expectations while constantly seeking out opportunities where you can assist your larger team, or the organization in general, with skills and knowledge that you can share towards improving processes, cutting costs, and solving problems. Recognize the difference in what we refer to as ‘Maintenance’ activities (what we do that is business as usual (BAU), versus the ‘Break-thru’ activity areas (those activities that generally drive higher, more strategic goals and objectives) – how can you improve the process you are working on, such that you can reduce time, cost and effort at the organization-wide level?

3. Communicate like a leader: Leaders communicate using positive, confident and what I like to refer to as ‘assuring’ speech. Contrast the following statements:
“I think this is what we need to do”
with “Here is what I recommend we do.”

“I am not sure if we should proceed without getting management approval to proceed” with
” If you are all on board I can take on the task of taking this to management to get their their approval to proceed.”

“I am not sure I have the cycles to take that on right now – there is too much already on my plate.”
with
“If this is a priority I propose that we review my current projects and prioritize them to determine what can go on the back-burner, so I can free up the cycles needed to take on the new project you need help with.”

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Remember – there can be no leadership without followership
Remember the question – remind me again why I should follow you?

The above two statements drive out what is possibly the only tried and tested way to become a true leader – that is the ability to make others follow you.
So what makes us want to follow ‘Leaders’?
Consider the relevant sections of Bob Dylan’s beautiful lyric – ‘Forever Young,’ and I paraphrase:

May you build a ladder to the stars
And climb on every rung
May you stay forever young

May you grow up to be righteous
May you grow up to be true
May you always know the truth
And see the lights surrounding you
May you always be courageous
Stand upright and be strong
May you stay forever young

May your hands always be busy
May your feet always be swift
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift
May your heart always be joyful
And may your song always be sung
May you stay forever young

nuff said…!

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