Last week I wrote part one of ‘6 Things You Can Do to Prepare for Leadership”. I mentioned that the first 6 were for immediate action. I also suggested that there was another 6 that addressed parts of the plan that can’t happen overnight.
This week we look at these other 6 things you can do to help with your road to a leadership position:
- Take a course
- Find a coach
- Find a mentor
- Get experience
- Find the white space
- Be a Leadership Beacon
Take a Course
First of all, if you want to be a leader, take a leadership course. Actually, you should take a series of leadership courses over the years. If you look carefully, you will see many different flavors of leadership courses. Some might be directed specifically to your industry and others might be more general in nature. All leadership course are not the same. Look carefully at the course outline and start to carve out your education in the leadership area.
As well as leadership courses, look at some of the gaps in your knowledge and skills and search out courses that can address these areas. One soft spot that I find with many project leaders is in the area of financial management. If this is you, go find a course with a title like: ”Financial Management for Nonfinancial Managers”. Maybe you need a two or three day course on negotiating? It could be presentation skills, dealing with unions, working with virtual teams and the list goes on.
Future leaders will seek these out and create a learning path towards their ultimate goals.
Find a Coach
Your gap in knowledge or skills or even leadership attributes may be best addressed by a professional coach. There are many people out there making a living coaching professionals in very specific areas.
I met a senior leader recently who had just taken over a department full of millennials and she was having a great deal of difficulty. Very wisely she found coach who she meet with once a week to discuss her issues and approaches to leadership situations. Her coach is 25 years old. This is an excellent application for this role.
And there are many more. Many professionals who are weak at presenting will hire a speaking coach.
Awhile back, I wanted to learn how to use Prezi as a presentation tool and I struggled at the beginning. My help came from a Prezi expert who I found as I was watching him use the tool in front of an audience. You have to be careful as you create this relationship. You could find someone who has never been a coach before but could be perfect for you. You need to pay them in some fashion and create a regular scheduled program to work around. This is not easy but well worth it.
Coaches are not for everyone nor are they for every instance but they are a good option as we address some of our gaps.
Find a Mentor
The role of a mentor is very different than a coach. I have mentors in my life but I don’t employ them as I would coach. Typically, they are friends and or associates very close to me who I can rely on for honest feedback and direction going forward. These relationships are typically informal between the two parties and sometimes even unrecognized as a mentor mentee relationship. But I can tell you that in the highs and lows of my entrepreneurial journeys the mentor role has been critical to my success.
Nothing beats real-life experience. The trouble is it is difficult to get that experience in a position that is on the horizon for us. But we have to try to find ways to get involved in the work and/or projects out there that can help us get this experience. It may be a role that you find outside of your regular workspace like a not-for-profit or association. A great example of this is a leadership role within your local PMI chapter. 2+ years on the board of one of these chapters will certainly expose you to leadership issues you’ve never seen before.
Find the White Space
In organizational management white space is defined as areas where very often, no one is in charge. Finding the white space involves recognizing areas where you can get involved to improve the current organizational process or create something new in your area. Very often he or she who comes up with an idea that no one has thought of will be offered some sort of role in the development or build out of the idea. These are great opportunities to get involved in the leadership space.
Be a Leadership Beacon
You don’t have to be a leader to be a ‘leadership beacon’. Potential leaders often show up through the crowd and shine. Even without an official role as a leader within your area or organization your attitude and demeanor will often help to identify you as a potential leader. For me it’s all about attitude. Leadership beacons display that attitude just by being who they are. You too can be a leadership beacon around your peers through your unselfish approach to day-to-day work, your ability to work with people around you to help them be better at what they do and your positive attitude through all the highs and lows of your workplace.
Over the past two weeks we’ve looked at 12 areas where we can begin our journey to leadership positions. It certainly cannot happen all at once but just picking a few of the areas and starting today can begin to build a great foundation for your future career.
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