To lead others, you must first lead yourself. Lead by example, lead with gusto, lead with a vision – regardless of the origins of your leadership inspiration, practice being a leader on yourself first.
There is a false notion that when a person rises to a formal leadership position, they are also bestowed the necessary wisdom and knowledge to effectively lead and manage a department/staff etc. The reality is that the magic wand and unicorn are not provided until we reach the level of corporate Vice President. All joking aside, everyday is your training ground to prepare for the trials of being a leader. Everyday is a job interview, there is always someone watching. If you have an interest in a formal leadership position, to be the boss, develop leadership habits today and practice on yourself.
Here are some things to consider as you lead yourself:
- Become a constant learner – never pass up an opportunity to learn. Take a class, attend a seminar, attend a conference, or simply watch a free class with iTunes U.
- Lead by Example or Fake it to you make it. Look for opportunities to step up at work. Volunteer to lead a project, come to the table with solutions and step out of your comfort zone, be bold and ask how you can fill in when your boss is preparing to go on vacation.
- Fill your gaps. Conduct a skills assessment on yourself. Consider the daily tasks you will conduct at the next level in your career. Consider what skills need to be developed in order for you to be successful in that role and set a plan to fill those gaps.
- Don’t be a victim, no good will come of it. Keep the focus on your sphere of influence rather then how the actions of others led to your situation. Take stock in where you are, look to where you want to be and move forward. Even if you don’t know your exact destination. You likely have identified a few nice stops along the way. Focus on those stops and what it will take to get there and start by planning to accomplish those small goals for yourself.
“Failing to plan is planning to fail” – the popular adage often attributed to Benjamin Franklin.
Other resources on the topic:
What did I forget? What other advice do you have for those who are preparing themselves for formal leadership roles?