There are many ways that a person can reach a senior, management or other leadership roles without having strong leadership skills. Some companies tend to promote technical staff based on years of service, expertise in another area, or vacancies needing to be filled.
You may find yourself in a leadership position without the skills and experience that would help you to truly succeed, or you may aspire to a position of more responsibility but face lots of competition for leadership roles, or be unsure of how to prove your work to key decision-makers.
In other cases, you may dream of becoming an entrepreneur and launching your own side venture or business and you know just how critical your leadership skills will be to your success.
Great leaders have a vision, a plan and the discipline to get there.
You can stand out as a leader by thinking about the future and any potential problems that you will face, envisioning a worthwhile destination, coming up with the steps necessary to take you there, and holding on to that vision through adversity.
As a leader, you do this in collaboration with others. You might consult technical staff to understand what sorts of problems you might face in any given plan. You might work with a professional planner or project manager to chart out functional steps on the way to your destination. However, the responsibility for the vision, plan, and discipline to stick to it ultimately comes back to you as the leader.
Elon Musk is an example of a visionary leader. He envisions a greener, more eco-friendly, and more accessible future, and set in motion plans to get there via a whole network of companies that support each other on their way toward that vision, including solar power farms, solar panel roofs, batteries to store that energy, and high-performance electric vehicles. He has shown grit and determination in the face of numerous challenges, including near-failures and setbacks.
Great leaders inspire and help others to access healthy motivation.
Leaders don’t lead in isolation. You can stand out as a leader by valuing others, introducing them to or creating opportunities for them, and bringing them back to what’s important (the vision and the plan to get there) in the face of obstacles. Good vision casting reminds a team what they’re working toward and why, and helps them stay motivated when things get difficult.
Bob Goff is an example of an inspirational and motivational leader. He has built a career out of sharing how important it is to love others and encourages those around him to put people first.
Great leaders adjust and adapt to change. While it’s important to have a plan, things are constantly shifting around you in the workplace, in your region or country, in you and your team’s capacities, in market realities – in every way, shape, and form. Leaders who adjust to changing conditions and move toward goals while adjusting direction stand out.
Mark Green is a leader who has adjusted to many changes over the course of his career. He started out in the US military, launched and led companies in the health care sector, and currently has a career as a politician. The ability to adjust to change and adapt to changing demands has helped him to climb the ranks and move into ever more successful and responsible roles.
Leaders may have a particular strength, but most successful leaders have all three of these strengths. You can stand out among the crowd of followers by looking to the future and envisioning a meaningful goal, coming up with an effective strategy to get there, and having the grit and determination to stay the course. However, you also need to have the ability to collaborate with others, mobilize their skills toward a common goal, and keep reminding them and yourself of why you should move forward and what the destination that you’re working for actually is. You can’t stand out as a leader unless you have the ability to overcome challenges, adjust and adapt to change, and move forward around obstacles.
If you’re in the earliest stages of your career, you may not have much power and may find it difficult to stand out as a leader, but by practicing and exhibiting these qualities, you’ll be able to grow your skills, gain the attention of key decision-makers, and build on the type of success that grows your career. If you act like a leader, you will be one, and soon enough the world will take notice.
- Book Review: Primal Leadership by Daniel Goleman
- Positive Energy: How to Develop it as a Leader
- How the Best Leaders Build Trust
- How to Create a Strategic Vision
- Leadership and Management Are Different
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