Are you a potential leader who’s just looking for an opportunity?
Do you think you have what it takes, and just need others to notice your leadership ability? If so, this video is for you.
Today we’ll talk about seven things you can start doing today that will get you noticed as a potential leader and set you on the path to building influence with the people around you.
[Watch the video above, or read the transcript below]
Hi, I’m Ken from RapidStart Leadership and my goal is to help you Learn Skills, Build Influence, and Accomplish more as a leader. If you think you have what it takes to be a leader and just need for others to recognize your leadership potential, here are seven things you can start doing right now that will get you closer to that leadership position you are seeking.
1. Get Good
Any team I’m on, I want my leader to be competent. So if you want to lead, the first priority is to get really good at whatever it is that you are supposed to do. Study the experts, ask good questions, practice your skills, and become the best you can be at it.
When others recognize that you are a great contributor to the team effort through your skill and ability, you have taken the first step.
Before you earn their confidence, they have to believe in your competence.
Related post: Developing Expertise
2. Think Outside the Cubicle
Teams work best when teammates help each other accomplish the team’s goals. It’s not enough that you know how to do your job. You need to know what others are doing, and how your actions impact them. So talk with them, learn about what they do, how they function, and how what you do affects their productivity, then adjust what you do to help make others more successful.
As others see you supporting them, they are likely to become more supportive in turn. Actions like these improve teamwork, and that’s what leaders do.
Related post: Understanding the challenges your teammates face
3. Learn Something New
The idea here is to add something to the mix that others don’t have. Learn a new skill, take courses, read books, talk to customers, experiment with new techniques. Gain new experiences that others don’t have related to your field. New skills and experiences will give you greater abilities and perspectives that others don’t have.
At times, leaders have to be creators. One of the keys to creativity is the ability to combine ideas and concepts from disparate experiences to come up with something new. As Steve Jobs once said:
Related post: Mastering a learning mind-set
4. Ask for Feedback
Sure your annual review may be coming up soon, but waiting to get your report card is what everyone else does. It takes a higher level of maturity to ask for feedback today, and even more to sincerely listen to what others have to say.
And don’t just ask your boss; ask those around you. For this to be helpful, the trick is in how you ask. If you ask a vague question, and you’ll get a vague answer.
Q: “How was my presentation?”
You sound like you’re fishing for compliments, so they are going to give you one that they don’t really mean. That’s not helpful to anybody. So be more specific with your question; try something like:
“What do you think are two or three things I could do to improve my presentations?”
The simple act of asking for that specific feedback does a few good things for you – it helps you see what you might need to work on, and it also is a way of conveying respect to the person you ask since you thought well enough of them to ask. And that act builds a relationship in which they become interested in your improvement. Finally, leaders are always learning. Seeking feedback shows that you are serious about improving your skills.
5. Step Up
No one is going to put you in charge of the big project if they don’t even know if you can handle taking fast-food orders for the team. So look for opportunities to volunteer to lead in smaller ways, and then give it your best effort. Maybe even over-deliver. In the process you’ll be demonstrating that you are capable of a great deal more.
So go ahead – be the person who runs the coffee fund for the office, organizes the birthday luncheon, or coordinates the meeting room. And step up to take on challenging tasks that others are afraid to. It will get you noticed. Just make sure you only step up for things that you are fully committed to doing, and then do a great job.
If you show that you can do small things well, you will be entrusted with greater ones.
Related post: Building influence by over-delivering
6. Act on the Vision
Leaders are focused on the vision, so it’s a good idea for you to do that too. Find out what your organization’s vision is, and think hard about how it applies to you and the team you’re on. Then consider whether there is something you could or should be doing to fulfill it.
During team discussions, keep the vision in mind as you offer suggestions and ideas. When making decisions, choose the option that takes you and your team closer to the vision.
If there isn’t a vision, talk with your boss about how you might help to develop one.
7. Be a Communicator
Leadership is influence, and influence happens through communication, so communication is a good thing to be good at.
Communicate non-verbally. Start by communicating confidence. – do this by how you stand and move. Make and hold eye contact. Uncross your arms and instead put them on your hips. Stand tall, and face others directly and openly. And of course, dress the part; as some say, dress for the position you want, not the one you have.
When speaking, people view a lower voice as more authoritative. Especially under pressure, the calmer, more measured voice is that of the leader. Also, keep an eye on your inflection. If you let your vocal tone rise at the end of a statement, it sounds more like a question, and that vocal lift can make you seem unsure of yourself. And lastly, try to focus on asking good questions, and then really listen to the answers you get.
Smart people try to give good answers; wise people try to ask good questions.
When writing, like in email, be organized and concise. Be clear about what you want in the first sentence – some call this the BLUF: Bottom Line Up Front. Then provide just enough background after that to get the response you need.
Potential Leader – The Takeaway
When it comes down to trying to stand out as a potential leader, there is plenty that you can do right now to get started.
Begin with by trying to become the most competent, capable, and professional teammate that you can. Think outside the cubicle to help others become more successful. Gather new skills and experiences that others don’t have, Ask for feedback so you can continually improve, Step up to help out even with the smallest tasks and over-deliver to show you are ready. Always act with the vision uppermost in your mind, and do your best to look, speak, and write the way a leader would.
Do these things, and you are sure not only to catch the eye of those you work for, but also to gather the support of your teammates who will come to believe you deserve that leadership position, too.