'Wanted: Skills, Discipline, and Strength of Character'
Aug. 06, 2014 | Cindy Lee
I'm constantly hearing from corporate, from society, from clients' experiences, that you "need" to be a certain type of leader. Typically, this looks like needing to move up the ladder and take on more responsibility in scope and authority over people. This is troubling for some of my clients who are excellent at what they do, and would be happy to do it for a long time, but are pressured to "grow" and move to the next level. [How can we function if everyone seeks to lead and nobody is willing or encouraged to follow?]
So let's take a different look at leadership development and define a leader as someone who has influence and impact - or more simply and accurately, it's a person others follow. That's powerful because of all the people you can CHOOSE to follow, you pick this person. That has more to do with character and abilities than with position and title. Whether you want to move up the ladder or stay where you're at, these can work for you and in fact will likely improve your relationships across all areas of life (beyond career).
What does it take to be this kind of a "leader"?
When I ask my career transition clients to define their ideal work environment, it often requires having a manager they trust and respect. In order to actually look for those qualities, I dig deeper to ask them what that looks like to them -- it comes down to these main areas: they're looking for someone who is capable of helping them gain certain skillsets, who seems to have strong disciplines in his/her life that can be repeated for success and ideally emulated, who consistently does what he/she says, and who exemplifies a sense of care for them as individuals.
When I ask my leadership and executive clients to define a "leader" type that they admire, often it's the same few aspects.
So, if you're seeking to grow in your ability to influence and impact, whether you prefer to do it openly or quietly, I have a few tips for you. (Even if you're turned off by the thought of "becoming a leader," these apply... and I have some additional tips below.) People generally want to follow someone who has character that they respect and can help them to thrive. Let's drill down on the qualities that were outlined above --
These are for EVERYONE. Even if you're turned off or are shying away from the pressure to "become a leader," I'd encourage you to still focus on these areas because no matter where you are, you have a platform to impact others in ways that bring respect, loyalty, rapport, results, relationship. Look for the type of influence you can offer to peers, your children, younger adults looking to gain from experiences you've had - and I guarantee you'll find a deep satisfaction that can't be paralleled if you choose to make yourself available to them.
How are you doing in these areas?
Would love to hear additional areas that stand out for you!