How Do You Learn Leadership? Through experience. There is no other way.
So how do you get the kind of experience that builds your leadership skill faster and with better results? How do you find leadership opportunities, and how do they find you? Through regular cultivation of the right practices, habitual activities related to a particular purpose.
Skill in the following seven practices help you benefit your organization, field, or profession, and at the same time foster opportunities for you to gain important leadership experiences. These practices often go beyond the minimum requirements of your job or role. Cultivate them anyway, and over time watch them accelerate your ability to influence others and achieve results. (Note: each practice described in this article is explored in more detail in a corresponding 7 Ideas Coach audio podcast (available free on the web at www.ThinkLeadershipIdeas.com and from Apple iTunes. An e-book, Leadership Momentum - 49 Ideas to Accelerate Leadership Influence and Achievement includes the podcasts, a 7-point executive summary of each practice, and links to related articles).
Leadership competency is gained through a developmental process, i.e. occurring through experiences over time, passing through a predictable series of stages. For leadership, this entails learning to become...
- a contributing individual
- an effective team member
- a competent manager
- a results-effective leader
- a shaper of the “ecology” of one’s organization or field of endeavor.
Moreover, the developmental process of becoming a leader parallels the developmental process of maturing your character. These practices are applicable wherever you are in your development of leadership and character. They are lifelong endeavors, worth polishing no matter how well you already do them.
Seven practices to gain Leadership Momentum...
Credibility generates an assumption of your capacity to accomplish objectives. Moreover, credibility generates trust, which automatically gains a leader the benefit of the doubt. People carry on with their efforts, look beyond mistakes, and work around annoyances and inconveniences. go to podcast
Focus on Strengths
Individuals and companies alike still persist in approaching development and performance management by identifying relative weaknesses and then trying to shore them up. The trouble is, if you do everything generally well, you will probably avoid failing but certainly fail to achieve excellence.
go to podcast
Thinking comes in many forms, and effective leaders develop agility in their thinking by intentional development and application of specific kinds of thinking: e.g., critical, emotional, disciplined, ethical, strategic, possibility, and reflective thinking. go to podcast
Poor speaking is so tolerated in business as a norm, perhaps no other skill gives as quick a payback for effort as learning to speak with clarity, brevity and energy. Small simple improvements in speaking will typically elevate one well above the average, as well as build capacity for influence.
Cultivate Your Network
Your network is the sum of connections you have with other people that might be used to share benefits. Networking is the intentional actions you take to build your network. Not all networks are created equal, and what will make the difference in the value of your network is following essential principles that make networking effective.
Develop a Collaborative Advantage
Organizations and individuals alike are implored to develop a competitive advantage...but what may give you a real edge is a well-honed capacity to collaborate. In an increasingly complex world, leaders are more likely to face the challenge of collaborative projects and partnerships - efforts that will require different professions or different organizations to work together, including endeavors that span business, nonprofit, and public sectors.
Leverage Automatic Behavior
A fundamental paradox of effective leadership is encouraging people to pursue excellence without thinking about it. Savvy leaders accomplish this through careful design of organizational structures, cultivating the company culture, and attention to psychological “defaults” of human behavior.
by Tom Stevens (c)2010
Tom Stevens helps leaders create and sustain exceptional organizations. To contact him, visit www.ThinkLeadershipIdeas.com
This article may be freely reprinted in your company, association, or publication (or website) under the following terms: that the author attribution, copyright notice, contact information, and this reprint notice be included; and that you inform us that you are using the article (samples appreciated).
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