A Few Ways To Help You Develop Your Leadership Skills
Being recognized as a leader means you have been identified and accepted by others. You will hold the title of Leader until you are recognized as someone that can no longer lead others. Trust me on this, the title of Leader is NOT a lifetime guarantee. The title of leader means you will have to work hard every day to keep the recognized title.
While you might hold a position consider a “leadership position” but is it really? If you look at the position itself, it is a manager position, at best, with a potential of being held by a leader but there is no guarantee.
Also, not guaranteed is have a degree or title after your name such as B.Sci, MBA, Ph.D., PA, JD, MD, or LMNOP or whatever ad nauseum. None of those are guarantees of being recognized as a leader. What is a guarantee is doing something with that degree, something worthy of being recognized as a leader by those that give those that are looking for someone to follow.
In this blog series I share with you the 10 Leadership Hacks that will help you develop or enhance your leadership skills. None of these are guarantees to being a recognized leader but through the use of common sense and constant & consistent utilization you might just find yourself a better place than when you were when you started.
#1 STAND UP
The first thing that people notice about leaders especially those new, up and coming leaders is their ability to STAND UP. They stand up with almost no proctoring from others.
Obviously, leaders do not always stand up. The wise ones will pick and choose when to stand up. Unfortunately, in what appears to be a “need” to recognized as an up and “comer’, individuals will stand up and volunteer to take on a task that they are not ready for.
There is no rush. Is there a need to be recognized today? Take your time or you may find that you are being recognized for something that you do not want to be recognized for.
Remember, A Leader Knows When The Time Is Right To Stand Up and when you do make certain you go all in.
#2 STAND OUT
Every leader has one thing in common: the ability to stand out from the crowd. If leaders cannot stand out then how are they recognized as leaders in the first place?
Seriously, how are leaders made? They certainly not born as leaders and then wait some twenty or so years to shine? No. They have work at standing out from the crowd. The United Nations estimates around 385,000 babies are born each day around the world (140 million a year).
While each baby is special and unique, not all will stand up to stand out, sadly. There will be more that will sit around waiting for a great leader to follow. Then will they have their opportunity to stand up and stand out.
You may ask yourself, how do I stand out. First of all, don’t over think it. Next, you may find yourself tempted to stand out like others have done in the past. Well, don’t do that.
You are uniquely you. Therefore, be yourself. Being yourself will ensure that no one will ever call you a clone, a copy cat, or a poser.
Standing out is all about being your authentic self and not worry what others think. Standing out is about being true to yourself. Standing Out is all about YOU being YOU!
#3 TAKE CHANCES
Taking chances is always the best route to becoming a recognized leader. A chance to step up and fail. A chance to get back up and succeed or to fail once again. No matter if success or failure is the result of you taking a chance, you take that chance again.
Leaders are created as a result of taking a chance (or two). Leaders are never borne of sitting back and watching the world go by. Leaders are not made by directing traffic, as well. Leaders are out there making the world spin, Leaders are out there either creating the traffic, the route, the jam, or they are out in front of the traffic (setting the pace).
Taking chances means embracing change. Taking chances means being afraid but doing it anyway. Taking chances means that people are hungry to see a leader that will step up. They want a leader that they can follow without hesitation, even if it means that leader will fail and try again. Taking chances means you, as a leader, will find yourself on the losing end more times that not but will get back up and try again.
Taking chances also means you will occasionally dive into the deep end without knowing how deep or cold the water is. Additionally, taking careful and calculated chances should be the standing order of the day. But orders just like rules were also made to be broken.
Whether the chance was calculated or haphazardly done the outcome will be what it will be. As a leader, you must also accept the fallout from the outcome of taking chances. Good or Bad. You own it. People want a leader that not only is willing to take chances but accept responsibility for their actions or behavior.
#4 OPEN MINDED
Another component needed in your arsenal towards becoming a Great Leader is to open-minded. Open-minded in the sense that you as an individual are “willing to consider new ideas”. You not only encourage that exchange of ideas but expect it to happen all the time. Being open-minded is not something you can turn on when your boss is looking and then turn off when you are behind closed doors.
It will take a lot of work but putting your whole self into it you can soon be well on your way to being a leader recognized as being open-minded.
An Open-minded Leader is one that is ready to create dialogue and will shun away monologue. An open-minded leader also ready to exchange ideas with members of the team no matter what position they have on the team.
The degree to which just how open-minded leaders are will vary from individual to individual. Remember, no two individuals are exactly alike. Thus, explaining the variance.
Additionally, when it comes being open-minded the individual is apt to accept change. While change is inevitable, it is the leader that expects and accepts change that will become a better leader. The only way to expect and accept change is to get out and experience change. Experiencing change of all kinds is critical to personal growth, personal & professional development.
Open-minded leaders create new and open-minded leaders. This is because people will naturally gravitate to a fair, just and open-minded leader. They will want to emulate the actions of the leader that is open-minded.
#5 GET OUT & GO OUT
(turn the open door policy inside out)
They say (I really don’t know who they are but they say) leaders must have an open door policy so that those that need communicate with that leader without hesitation.
While that intention may be true. I say that Open Door Policies are as good or bad as their gatekeeper. Let me re-phrase that: If the “manager” has a gatekeeper then the policy is a NO OPEN DOOR POLICY.
There…I said…I said it because I mean it. If there is any kind of gatekeeper then there is NO OPEN DOOR Policy. Yes, it is that simple. If you have to think about it, then know you have absolutely no reason calling yourself any kind of leader. Let alone, calling yourself a manager if you believe in your open door policy, you know that policy comes with the gatekeeper (non-negotiable). Don’t believe me? Try your boss’s open door policy. Now you get it.
So how do you deal with that flawed open door policy?
You keep it but look at it this way. That open door is your invitation to get up from behind your desk and walk out. That open door policy is ONLY for YOU! That’s right! It is your reminder to go out and walk the company floor.
When you walk out of your office, leave that gatekeeper right where it has always been; guarding your office door.
Get out there and meet the people you lead, you manage, you supervise. Get out there and make yourself available to them. If they truly have a need to use your “open door policy” then they make it happen, when you make it happen sans gatekeeper.
Leaders worth their weight in gold will go out of their way to ensure that dialogue is ever present. They do this instead of only using monologue in every method of communication. Leaders must ensure that every conversation is two-way.
Of course, there will be times that the message has to be one-sided/ one direction in the sense that there can be no discussion as to the need to execute. However, that should not be end all or be all of that communiqué but instead it should include a path to obtain more information, amplification or what not. This is to attempt to ensure that message is understood.
Individuals, at all levels, must encourage and facilitate the openess that comes from dialogue. When openness and dialogue is stifled the culture of the organization becomes tainted, clouded, and an ugly mess. Achieving the level of an ugly mess, the organization is forever known as one that cares more about the bottom line and not about the people.
Leaders fall back into the role of a bad manager when all they know is top-down monologue.
Leaders grow when they encourage dialogue. Leaders become better when their followers are freely and fearlessly engaging in dialogue. Leaders make better leaders when dialogue becomes the norm and not the exception.
#7 ENCOURAGE OTHERS TO STAND UP, STEP UP, AND STEP OUT
As I and many, many others have said in the past, “A leader’s job is to create more leaders.”
Thus, it behooves all leaders, future and current, to begin recruiting the next leaders.
Recruiting the next set of future leaders begins by encouraging others to stand up. step up and the step out. Encourage everyone whether they feel they are ready or not.
Remember, there is no perfect time to be a leader. There is no right time either, PERFECTIONISTS this means YOU! In most cases, Leaders are born out of necessity. They are made the moment someone, anyone is needed to stand up and deliver.
Again, you are the one that will call on others to stand up, then to step up and then to step out. You will be the one that knows that they are ready. Also, they will fight you tooth and nail but in the
By standing up I am referring to doing what they can to make themselves known, to be noticed. By standing up they are making their intentions known in they can be called upon to do what must be done.
8 LEAD BY EXAMPLE
Current and Future Leaders your life will be under a microscope. Everything you say and do is amplified, at least, 100X.
That is why leading by example becomes your life. What you say, where you say it, who you say it to, when you say it, why you say it and how you say it will be under that microscope. There is no escape.
The same goes for what you do. What you do, when you do it, where you do it, who you do it to, why you do it, and how you do it, all under that microscope.
Also what you do NOT say or do, is right there along in that microscope.
As a leader, at any level, your words and actions are everything. The words you say and do not say. The actions you take and do not take. It all matters to those that follow you.
It matters in that as a leader your job is to build trust. By keeping your word and doing what you say you are going to do is how trust is built. The same goes for doing what you say you are going to do.
Failing to deliver and not keeping your word is not what true leaders do. However, there will be times when a leader cannot deliver. In those occasions leaders must communicate to ensure the reason is understood by the followers. Then as soon as possible, make it happen.
“Do as I say and I do” is Leading by example. Genuine leaders need not worry about leading by example as they embody the discipline of leading by example. They know nothing else.
Future leaders, at first there may be a misconception on what leading by example may or may not be. The misconception comes from not understanding that everyone is different and everyone has a different definition to what is “leading by example”. By taking the time to accept that all people are different and everyone carries their own definition. The leader becomes aware that to be their authentic self is more important than how others see them.
When current or future leaders accept themselves for who they are then their authenticity moves front and center. As the leader is behaving in a manner appropriate to themselves, others will recognize then authenticity the leader(s) bring. The leader is then leading by example.
#9 SHOW UP
The single greatest action any leader can do is also the simplest thing they can do: SHOW UP
They show up not because people are expecting to see them. Leaders show up not for themselves but for those they lead. For those that choose to follow them.
A leader that leads by example goes out of their way to set the standard. By showing up, the leader exemplifies the basics in all that they do. Others see what is important and where their attention and focus should be.
By being present, YOU, the leader has made yourself an initial point of contact. You have become the person that people will turn to when there is a question to be answered, a need to be addressed, or a concern to be recognized. Most importantly, a person that people can go to without hesitation. They do so because they recognize that you will get done what needs to be done.
#10 HAVE FUN
Seriously? Do I really have to tell you to have fun? If I must, please know and understand you have a lot more to worry about and plenty of work to do that this blog post will never be of any help to you.
I mean if you, as a current or future leader, are not having fun then what’s the point? What is the point of getting in front of others a leading them if you believe that to be a successful leader to be serious all the time, then you got much bigger problems. Leave the being serious all the time to the managers. That’s why the are called managers. Leaders connect with their followers. Leaders connect in a manner that accomplishing a mission or achieving a goal will be something that followers believe they succeed in doing with the guidance of manager.
Remember, a manager, a really bad manager will dictate, talk down, tell people what to do and how to do it. A Leader sets the vision or the expected outcome and lets their followers get there, get to the finish line. Gettingt to the finish line is where fun is.
However, if you have no idea how or where to begin as a leader then I share this piece of advice on where to start: Learn How To Have Fun, NOW!
There they are. The 10 Leadership Hacks to help you develop yourself as a True, Genuine, and Authentic Leader. Each hack serves a purpose to help creating the end product. However, this blog post is not the end all, be all on how to be a leader. This blog post should serve for the novice as a starting point, for the more advance it serves as a benchmark to see just how far you have gone and how far you still have to go. For the more advance, let this serve as a tool to help you remember where you came from and to keep checking back every once in a while.