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Grooming Yourself for a Leadership Role

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Thu Feb 25 2016

Grooming Yourself for a Leadership Role
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I teach a class every other week in my company. Based on my observation and intuition, I can usually spot the leaders in the class without knowing their titles in advance.

Leaders are not necessarily the ones who speak most in class, are the best dressed, or are most serious. Here are some common behaviors I’ve observed in these leaders: 

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  • They are not afraid of sharing their different opinions. In a class in which learners don’t know one another, it can be intimidating to speak up. Leaders tend to ask more questions to challenge what’s been told to them. 

  • They are confident, even if they are not always right. The confidence shows through their strong eye contact and manner of speaking.  

  • They love to help answer other participants’ questions. They see themselves as useful in any situation. They believe they can help and add value.

The common theme above can be summarized with two terms: risk-taking and confidence.

Becoming a leader is exciting, but it can be nerve-racking. It requires a different skill set, which includes delegation, motivating others, developing teams, and conflict resolution. There are multiple ways to master these skills. However, in my opinion, the best way to groom yourself to become a leader is to lead. For example, you could serve as a leader in a volunteer organization, or you could simply ask your manager: “Is there any project I can lead?”

The ones who quickly become leaders are not always the ones who are the most capable or skilled. They are often the ones who take the most risks. They dare to lead. They may not be clear about the job description, or they may be fuzzy about the required time commitment, but they know they want to be a leader, help others, and grow their leadership skills. They make a case for their contribution as a leader, and figure out the details later. Through the leadership experience, they learn more about how to delegate, motivate, and engage team members.

If you want to become a leader soon, don’t just think about it, talk about it, or read about it. It’s most critical to show up, step up, and believe in the value you can contribute to the team. Dare to lead a project, small or big, now. Don’t wait for the perfect opportunity. Create an opportunity and make a case to lead. Once you demonstrate your leadership skills in real projects, it’s much easier to convince the decision makers to take you to the next level.

There is only one way to become a great leader—be a leader.

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