Being a leader nowadays connotes as a title, position, or someone who has a huge following or influence. While it is hard to become one because it takes self-discipline and a lot of experience, most of us think that we can only act as a leader once we are there.
But being a leader is way far beyond what we have framed or other people have framed over our minds. You can be a leader before you become one. You don’t have to wait for that promotion to become one because even you’re still several levels down from the top and someone else is the boss there are ways you can show to others your potential to become a leader. When people recognize you as a leader not because of your title or position or even tenureship, the more chances you will become a real leader sooner than anyone can expect of you.
Muriel Maignan Wilkins author of “Own the Room: Discover Your Signature Voice to Master Your Leadership Presence.” said, “It’s never foolish to begin preparing for a transition no matter how many years away it is or where you are in your career”
Acting like a leader is not acting like your boss who called the shots when he is not around and plays power-tripping to your colleagues or it is not even being close to your boss or other managers or executives in your company. Acting like a leader is to take on opportunities now regardless of your tenure or role, you can demonstrate leadership at any time and anywhere. So here are some ways how you can do that.
1. Fulfill your job excellently. Aristotle once said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act, but a habit. Most people are worried when they will receive their promotion or when they will be assigned to a project that offers more growth opportunities or offers working opportunities abroad or more visibility to your manager, but regardless of how big your ambition is, don’t let them distract you from excelling in your current role.
Focus on the present and your job. A lot of opportunities have missed because many are too focused on the future. You still need to deliver results in your day job. The first step of getting ahead is to take care of today’s business or what in your plate right now, so that nobody — your boss, your colleagues, peers or those others above you question your performance.
2. Seize leadership opportunities, no matter how small they are. Having a “let me take it” attitude is the next step of getting ahead. It will not only show you are interested to take a few initiatives but it will extend your relationship with your boss that you are there whenever he/she needs you.
I remember when I was in Hewlett-Packard, I’ve been for so 4 years already that I never get any promotion. So one day, I asked my manager about it, he said to me, “Dhenn, I have never seen you taking any initiatives in the company.” I replied, “Sir, what can I do to earn that promotion?” And he gave me tasks that he needs help and even it was small enough for others to take on, I did that tasks excellently and wholeheartedly.
Taking on leadership opportunities as heading an event, or even organizing an event will give others — may it be your teammates, colleagues or someone else above you a taste of “what you will be like” in a more senior role.
3. Look for the whitespace. When I say whitespace, these are spaces or projects that others don’t want to take it. Perhaps it is challenging or maybe it is too small to notice.
Maiga Wilkins says “Every organization has needs that nobody is paying attention to, or people are actively ignoring,” I remember a story posted only about Steve Kerr, coach of Golden State Warriors when he shared that he also listens even to their janitor(s) about their opinion on their game because he values their opinion and it will help them to provide a good strategy to win in every game they will be playing in.
While the truth of the matter that some organization just wants their employees to shut up and just do their work, I think that’s not a healthy culture to work on. A healthy culture values the opinion of others even it is good or bad. Do not be afraid to speak out. Others may perceive you as rebellious but it might be the whitespace you are looking for, there is a need to create a safe environment in your team where everyone and anyone regardless of their position or title can speak out their voices without being afraid to be criticized.
4. Help your boss succeed. While doing your job excellently, don’t forget to execute your boss’ priorities too. Show to him or her that you are willing.
I remember when I was working with Shell as an RPA Specialist, I was in their HR Services Department, my manager and other colleagues keep telling me to be visible with the bosses. Now I know what they meant. The goal of helping your boss to succeed is to find out what’s bugging him or her day and night and propose a solution to those problems.
When I was at Shell, my manager often tag me along with her meetings with the heads of operational managers and learn their problems, so we can offer solutions to those problems.
5. Don’t be a jerk. Francis Kong said, “The one accurate test of a person’s character is his or her attitude towards money or power.” Don’t act like a boss or exert authority when you don’t have it.
Jesus said, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” If you remember, this became the Golden Rule. It is simply to treat other people with the concern and kindness you would like them to show toward you. Practice “servant leadership”. A leader is not someone who exerts authority over others, a true leader is the one who serves his or her subordinates, treats them with respect, listens to their concerns, and putting others first.
6. Find role models. Find people whom you can look up to. Study what they are doing, invite them for a coffee and ask them if they can mentor you. As you stay long in the organization or company, make sure you are intentional in building a relationship with these people you are looking for. And lastly,
7. Build relationships. One of the things I hate is; whenever I am new to the company; no one cares the moment I arrived in the office for the first time. No one has ever greeted me because they are busy or perhaps they just don’t care for the new hire. This is the last but not the least and this is the most important key in getting ahead.
Dennis Waitley said, “If you are not networking, you are not working.” Or if I rephrase it, you are not working if you are not networking. You will be spending more than 40 hours a week at your company, you cannot survive without relationships. It’s not who you know, it’s who knows you.
When you will be evaluated for a promotion or progress, it’s not your performance solely he or she will rely on. Most likely he or she will sit with others to evaluate your potential and ability. In that case, for you to get ahead of that promotion is; it is not what you know or who you know but who knows you.
The wider your social circle, the more diverse, the more chances for you to discover opportunities and build relationships.
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Latest posts by Dhenn Espiritu (see all)
- How To Act Like a Leader Before You Become One — October 12, 2019
- When Making Tough Decisions, Always Follow the Math — September 15, 2019
- Building a Culture of Trust — August 11, 2019