What would you say to your younger self about leadership? Becoming a confident and courageous leader is both an attitude and a process. Like many undertakings, developing the ability to lead is one that benefits from the experience. When it comes to gaining the insight that we need to lead ourselves and others, there is no substitute for experience.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all go back in time and share our experiences with our younger selves (minus the pimples and glasses!)? The lessons that I’ve learned from my journey are priceless! Given the opportunity, I would share the following five leadership development strategies and tips with my younger self.
Want to Be a Leader – Start Early
It is never too early to start learning leadership skills. Regardless of your age, or current career position, take steps right now to learn more about the skills and qualities that all effective leaders share. Read books on leadership, look for coaches and mentors that can help guide you.
Life itself will present enough challenges and obstacles to your dreams. So, it’s crucial that you seek out literal cheerleaders to inspire you to keep giving your best effort even in difficult times.
Pursuing a path of excellence and authenticity is hard enough without being drained by negative attitudes. Early on, learn to multiply your energy by surrounding yourself with individuals who believe in you and support your efforts.
Embrace Opportunities to Lead
As you focus on developing your leadership skills, look for opportunities to lead. Whether it’s at home, in the office, or within your community, look for areas that need improvement and where your actions can make a difference.
Our job titles do not define our leadership. Actively seek out more challenging roles in your workplace and be a leader by pursuing excellence and improvement.
What Direction Should You Take – Play to Your Strengths
Being a great leader comes down to knowing whom you are at your inner core and consistently being your most authentic, honest self. Learn your natural talents, preferences, abilities, limitations and make choices that play to your strengths.
It’s impossible to be exceptional at everything. Don’t waste precious time and energy trying to master everything, narrow your focus and work on developing your strengths.
Define Your Mission by Focusing on Your Vision – Know Your Purpose
It may seem like a strange question to ask yourself, but do you know why you want to lead? What is it that you want out of life? What are your values, what do you stand for? Learning the answers to these questions is part of developing your vision.
Without vision, you can neither plan nor lead, because, without vision, it’s impossible to define your mission. Great leaders can motivate others, bring out the best because they know and have established their mission in four key areas: passion, purpose, philosophy, and presence.
Being an effective leader is about knowing your “why” and owning it! Take the time to focus on yourself, learn what energises you, brings you joy and don’t hold back from sharing your authentic self with others.
From this passion, find your purpose for leading. Discover what it is that you want and then plan out the steps that you need to take to achieve your mission.
Avoid shortcuts that seemingly offer success at the expense of your philosophy. Be mindful of your plans and actions and take steps to ensure that they are consistent with your values.
Allow your passion, purpose and philosophy to shape how you present yourself to others. Be confident in your abilities and allow your presence to reflect your vision honestly.
Embrace Risk and be Courageous!
It’s tempting to play things safe in your career, but you will never achieve anything exceptional or significant without taking a few risks. New ideas, innovation and creativity fuel our vision, and all require risk.
Don’t be afraid of change; don’t be scared of failure! Embrace risk and be courageous! Shake things up, discard the status quo, do something different.
Our best lessons come from our mistakes and failures. So, when you fall, move on. Pick yourself up and keep going forward!
Tips for Leading
Choose your attitude. Have the best leadership attitude every day.
Take a journey of self-discovery. Be open to who you truly are.
Pick up a leadership book and start reading it.
Be authentic. The best leaders are those who know that self-awareness is the most significant capability.
Integrity is central to leadership. Lead by example.
Focus on getting to know yourself – self-awareness is the key.
The best leaders own their story. It does not define you; it makes you who you are.
Say yes to opportunities! Just jump. Act now.
Own what makes you different. You rock!
Trust your natural ability – you can do it.
Believe in yourself. Trust yourself. Put your hand up!
Don’t take no for an answer. If they say no, go to the next. Find that yes.
Surround yourself with empowering people who lift you higher. Your tribe. Your cheerleaders. Get rid of people who put holes in your rowboat.
Give more to others. Mentor and coach others. If you are successful,don’tforget to send the elevator down for others to ride up.
Empower others to lead. Leadership is about others.
Be compassionate and curious. Be kind to yourself ﬁrst and then to others.
Network! Meet as many people as you can. Add value to them.
Never stop learning. Invest in yourself. Only you matter.
Enjoy your fantastic ride. It is incredible. Take in your leadership journey.