Some people often like to say that someone is “a born leader.” That may be true to a point for some, but most leaders aren’t born into leadership – they become leaders. Even those with natural leadership tendencies have to hone their skills.Those that appear to be “naturals” usually just started at an early age. But I believe anyone who wants to lead can if they follow these three simple leadership steps.
Step #1: Volunteer
If you pay attention, there are lots of opportunities to take on a leadership role. People are always asking for folks to volunteer for a leadership position; you just have to be willing to step up. Take a chance and say “yes, I can do this!”
Leading in a volunteer organization is a great way gain experience. And ultimately, experience is the key to developing ongoing, successful leadership qualities. Choose to lead in an area of interest or expertise so you can be excited about what you are leading. If leading seems scary, start small: consider leading a short-term task force or sub-committee.
Step #2: Observe
Once you are in a leadership position (or even before then), observe other leaders. Keep in mind, leaders come in all sorts of roles and positions. A teacher leads a classroom, a manager leads a department, a board leads an organization. Take note of their behaviors and methods and the success and failures of each. It doesn’t take too long before you will start recognizing patterns across the various forms of leadership.
Almost all behaviors and methods can be learned. Decide which ones work well with your personality and style and begin adopting them in your everyday activities. Leading does not always have to be a formal position. Without the leadership title, it is often easier to try new skills out and then refine and hone them as necessary.
Step #3: Evaluate
A good leader continually evaluates and reevaluates not only their goals and objectives, but also their success in leading their group. Excellent leaders make mistakes just like everyone else; the difference is that they analyze what went wrong and then determine how it can be avoided in the future. In addition, they also evaluate when things go well to learn what should be repeated for future success.
Keep in mind that not all successes or failures are a direct result of leadership, but often it is at least a contributing factor. The most successful leaders can almost always tell you exactly where their leadership had an impact as they are in a state of constant observation and self-evaluation.
And then…..repeat! As with most things, practice and experience is often the key. Follow these simple leadership steps and before you know it, you will be sought after for leadership positions, both volunteer and paid.
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