Two Ways to Become a Leader
Everyone wants to be looked up to. Do you want to be the popular kid? The leader in your group of friends? A role model to kids? Or do you want to be the boss? I’d argue that all of the things I mentioned are equivalent to “being the boss.”
As I (and you) start climbing the ole corporate ladder, you’ll start thinking of how to get ahead of your peers. It boils down to a combination of things. First, do you have the ability and knowhow? Second, can you be relied upon to educate and lead your former peers if you get the promotion?
Of course, it’s much easier to want to be a leader than to actually be one. If it were easy, then wouldn’t everyone be a leader, and therefore, nobody? (I just got philosophical.) So, as a junior resource in my company, what do I see in leaders? I’ll focus on two things that I’ve noticed in my organization.
This is probably the toughest one to master. Some people are naturally great speakers, and some aren’t. So what can you do if you are not? Look for a local Toastmasters chapter. Toastmasters is a club with over 14,000 clubs in over 125 countries that seeks to make people more comfortable in front of audiences. Practice makes perfect of course, if you start giving speeches, you’ll naturally become more confident and a better speaker.
Simply communicating your thoughts is not nearly enough. Informing is not enough. You need to be articulate and thoroughly (but efficiently) say what you mean to in a way that inspires, motivates, and persuades. The last one may be the most important. Taking persuasive speaking classes will help (trust me, I’ve done it). Once you can logically convince others to see your side of an argument, you’ll be surprised how it changes how people perceive you.
Be Decisive and Courageous
In sticky situations, your senior leaders will canvas for ideas. They’ll ask your manager for thoughts who will, in turn, ask for thoughts from you. Can you provide a creative deal structure that’ll get the deal done? Or how about enticing sales terms that the customer loves without giving up returns? (For example, can you sell a product at a loss but with a more lucrative service contract?)
Create something that adds value (instead of simply doing your job) and you’ll earn the eye and respect of your manager. Remember, impressing your seniors is the only way to become a leader at work. You have to be willing to find a firm branch, perch on it, and get noticed!
The Bottom Line
In short, doing your job well will only get you so far. If you want to be a leader you’ve got to do more. You’ve got to go above and beyond. To be cliché, think outside of the box because that’s what your company’s leadership team wants. Take risks, stray from your company’s conventional solutions, take on responsibility, and simply do more than your job description.