6 Things You Can Do Today to Prepare for Leadership Tomorrow

Project management people make great leaders.  Not overnight, but eventually.  Maybe within the project management space, but more than likely, outside their current comfort zone and within a more operational, development or strategic area within the organization.

Two things are required to start this journey:

  1. You must believe this.  You must believe you would make a great leader.
  2. You need to start this journey sooner than later – actually years before you see it happening.

Here are 6 things you can start doing today to prepare you for a leadership position tomorrow. 

1. Knock your responsibilities out of the park.

In everything you do, do it beyond expectations.  Kill it – day in and day out.  This level of performance will get recognized by your managers, your peers and especially the leaders in your current organization.  This is one of the most important traits of any future leader.  Show your stripes now.  

2. Help your boss succeed.

My Father-in-law used to say “make heroes out of everyone around you”.  You do not have to be the star attraction to get recognized.  The ‘supporting role’ is often the more important and, many times, the most rewarded. 

3. Seize leadership opportunities, no matter how small. 

Take on anything you can now to practice being a leader.  Events, presentations, marketing campaigns, new product launches – anything.  You won’t be left out there alone, hopefully.   Use the experience to learn and to explore your new skills.

4. Don’t be a jerk

Jerks complain a lot but don’t contribute to any solutions.  Jerks make life miserable for others and put our organization’s reputation at risk with behavior that is unacceptable these days.  Jerks don’t believe in team work and don’t believe that paying it forward has any merits.  Don’t go there.

5. Find role models

Find people who you want to emulate, who are doing what you want to do in the future or stand out as examples of the kind of leader you want to be.  If you know them personally, foster that relationship, feed it, nurture it and make lots of notes.  If they are a public personality and inaccessible in person, read everything they write, watch them on ProjectBites, Youtube or on Ted Talks and attend any event that gets you closer to their thoughts, ideas and dreams.

6. Build Relationships

Now.  Not later. Connect with key people in your life on a regular basis.   Set dates in your calendar to touch base every few months.  Find new relationships that might be able to connect you to key people some day in the future or who are authorities in their own right.  The relationships in your professional life are probably the most important asset you have.  Now is the time, when you don’t need it, to seek out and establish your professional support system so that it is there for you when you really do need it.

The Harvard Business Review (Fall 2014) said “If you want to become a leader, don’t wait for the fancy title or the corner office. You can begin to act, think, and communicate like a leader long before that promotion. Even if you are still several levels down and someone else is calling all the shots, there are numerous ways to demonstrate your potential and carve your path to the role you want.”

Are you planting the seeds today for your new leadership position tomorrow?

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