Think Leadership

3 Things Future Leaders Should Start Doing Now

So, you want to rise up and become a leader?

Great! The world needs more people like you.

A recent study by consulting firm Deloitte found that 90 percent of executives don’t have the leadership talent in their organizations to accomplish their goals.

Think about that.

Ninety percent of executives don’t have access to enough good leaders and believe their organizations are being held back because of it.

That’s a massive void that you can help fill.

How can you get started?

Here are three things.

First, become a role model for your team.

Become what author Patrick Lencioni calls an “Ideal Team Player.”

Yes, the leaders in your organization notice the star performers. But we rarely promote people who aren’t also team players.

We look for people who make others better, because that’s what great leaders do.

We look for team players with good people skills, because it’s easier to teach you leadership and management skills than basic people skills.

Lencioni describes an ideal team player as someone who is humble, hungry, and people smart.

Think about teammates or bosses you have struggled to work with. Chances are good they lacked one or more of those three.

They may have lacked humility, and thought their way was the best.

Or maybe they lacked hunger and were not engaged. Or getting them to take ownership of anything was a battle.

Or maybe they lacked people smarts and didn’t always interact with teammates in healthy ways.

Few of us start our careers as ideal team players. It’s normal for people to struggle in one or more of those areas, but we’re all capable of growing and getting better. We all go through a maturation process.

What can you do if you want to get better?

Start by stepping back and observing yourself through a different set of eyes.

Look at your interactions through the lens of the other person. Put yourself in their shoes. What did they want out of their interaction with you? What do you think they got?

Could you be viewed as lacking humility, hunger, or people smarts?

Be honest with yourself. And if you’re feeling ambitious, ask others for feedback. Ask if they see any blind spots that could be holding you back.

Second, start leading from where you are.

Leadership is not about authority. It’s about adopting a mindset of helping others make their best contributions.

Great leaders understand that leadership is a team sport. As a leader, I know I can’t do everything myself. I can’t be everywhere. And I need people on my team to step up and help lead.

So, if you want to be a leader, just start leading.

A few areas you can help include:

Want more areas to help? Dig into our leadership checklist to identify areas where your team does well and where it might struggle. Then jump in and help.

If you’re feeling ambitious, ask your manager how they need help.

Let your desire for more responsibility be known. Most bosses will appreciate it. But if they don’t, find a different boss because sitting unchallenged under a bad one will hold you back.

And volunteer for key projects and tasks. Look for opportunities both in your department and outside of it. Take ownership of initiatives that are bigger than yourself. Projects that will require you to coordinate the work of others.

Get yourself out there and just start leading from where you are.

Third, become a skilled, life-long learner.

Great leaders are great learners.

If you’re like most of us, your formal education taught you how to pass tests and write papers, not how to learn new skills and new ways of thinking over time.

But if you want to be a leader, you’ve got to get good at learning.

Why? Because, the attitude and skills that got you to this point won’t get you where you want to go. And once you get there, you’ll want to go further.

A few things you can do:

The last thing I’ll say about learning is to plan to invest time appropriate to your long-term goals.

If you want to become a supervisor and level-off, you need to embark on one type of journey.

If you want to be mid-level manager, your journey will be longer and more intense.

If you want to be an executive or entrepreneur, even more intense.

Most supervisors need to spend about 10 hours each quarter growing and nurturing their leadership and management skills. This time can be spent reading books and articles, participating in a study group, attending conferences, or watching online courses.

Most mid-level managers need to spend about 10 hours a month.

Most executives will spend about 10 hours a week, and some will spend much more.

If you don’t enjoy learning, you won’t enjoy leading.

You should know that going into it and set your long-term career goals appropriately.

So let’s recap.

The world needs more leaders.

Your team needs you. Your boss needs you. Your school, city, and country need you.

To step up and lead.

The best way for you to get started is to:

  1. Become a role model for your team
  2. Start leading from where you are
  3. Become a skilled, life-long learner

Want a few books to read, courses to take, or people to follow?

Check out:

Enjoy the journey.

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