by Kirk Madsen – October 2014
What is leadership?
For everything written about leadership and management (an Amazon.com search yields over 1 million books on the topic!), we sure seem to have a lot of questions about what it is and how to do it. One of the questions people in leadership positions get asked all the time is, “How did you get to where you are now?”
Whatever their answer is, it will probably include a surprisingly simple little secret.
Ready? There is no secret.
There really isn’t much of a mystery. Leaders follow simple, repeatable processes anyone can start immediately!
But, before we talk about these processes, let’s first establish two key ground rules:
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Ground rule #1: Consistency is king.
Ground rule #2: A positive attitude is non-negotiable.[/dropshadowbox]
These two ground rules are the cornerstones or the foundation for all you do. Over the long haul, building success without these cornerstones is impossible. From there, focus on a few key concepts:
Concept #1: Do more, now.
Leaders work harder and generate results more consistently than their peers.
Dionna Widder, the Vice President of Ticket Sales & Service with the Cleveland Cavaliers, sums this point up perfectly: “You do not need a title to be a leader. Set yourself apart with your work ethic and results.” Everyone is capable of having a great week, or even a great month. Leaders have great quarters and great years. Sure, they have their off-days. So did Michael Jordan; his were just better than everyone else’s.
Concept #2: Lead, now.
Take on a leadership role with your current team.
Joe Schiavi, the Director of Inside Sales with the Detroit Pistons, offers some practical advice to practice leadership now: “Teach less experienced reps and give time out of your day to make sure that your teammates have the best possible opportunity for success. Your manager will notice your extra efforts. Your teammates will respect you because you took the time out of your day to help them when they needed assistance.”
Concept #3: Be a student.
Consider how much more capable you are of passing a test when you’ve taken the time to study. Widder recommends, “Schedule a meeting with your manager or other leaders in the industry to learn. Seek out resources and dedicate time to be a student.” Books, articles, TED talks, conversations with others – there are countless resources available. Use one of them every day!
Concept #4: Pick your peers.
Immediately find mentors and surround yourself with successful people.
Do you know what I love most about being a leader? Finding others who want to succeed, and empowering them to do it. On a peer-to-peer level, spend your time and energy with people who exhibit the positive personal and professional traits you see (or want to see) in yourself. On an executive level, ask the people you admire to mentor you. The benefits of surrounding yourself with successful people will be real and immediate. “Ask and welcome feedback from your leaders, peers, and friends and develop plans to improve areas that need improving,” Widder says. “Feedback can be both positive and constructive; both are valuable to your growth.”
By applying these concepts, you’ll have a greater impact on your organization. The greater the impact, the greater your chances of breaking into leadership positions.
Cover photo courtesy of MarcMo.