Clearly, there are several definitions of what leadership is, why it is important, who has it, and who lacks it. Perhaps too many.
History has provided numerous examples of leadership. Thousands of books have been written on the subject. But books and examples, by themselves, do not make leaders. Learning about leadership is one thing, learning to lead is an entirely different process altogether.
Here are three key steps to learning how to lead:
- Make the choice to lead.
- Define, refine, and follow your own leadership philosophy.
- Continually use your everyday experience to build your skills as a leader.
STEP 1: Make the Choice to Lead
Think about it. The world needs great leadership as much today as anytime in history. And not just from public figures and CEOs, but from normal, everyday leaders like you and me. That’s where the need is. That’s where true leadership resides.
So choose to lead. You are most likely very good at your job. But do you see leadership as an essential part of your job? How much time do you spend each day considering the leadership element of what you do? What kind of leadership opportunities await you? Are you stepping up to those opportunities? Are you considering the impact you can have on those around you? Who needs your leadership? What kind of leader can you and should you become?
STEP 2: Define, Refine, and Follow Your Own Leadership Philosophy
Once you choose to lead, choose the leadership philosophy you will follow. How about you follow your own philosophy? That’s right, your leadership philosophy. You can read all the books you want. Books are great. Go to seminars too. But, the philosophy that you develop yourself, that resonates in your own head and your own heart, will be the one that will matter most, should matter most, to you. Following that philosophy will produce authenticity. But you need to know what it is. Do you know your philosophy? Do you know what values and principles shape your philosophy? Do you know the impact that your philosophy has on those around you? And how well are you equipped to follow through on your philosophy? How will you shape your philosophy on a daily basis?
STEP 3: Use Your Everyday Experience to Build Your Skills
Leadership can be learned. Absolutely. But merely learning about leadership is not the same as learning to lead. Learning to lead is like climbing a mountain. Learning about leadership is like looking at the mountain. Don’t be a looker, be a leader. The real learning is in the climb. The climb happens everyday, in your normal job, in your actual work environment. That is your ideal learning environment. That is where you will best learn to lead. But you need to be ready to capture the lessons that come your way. So continually look for the best tools and the great examples. Practice what you learn. Then apply it where it matters most, on the job, doing what you do best.
Yep. Your leadership is needed. Learn to do it well. Make the choice. Define your philosophy. Continue to learn from your actual work experience. It’s a climb. You may not notice the difference with each step, but then you will have moments when you will see just how high you have risen, and hopefully the difference you have made in others.