FROM THE LEI STAFF:
This is useful insight, if for no other reason than it is very positive and something that you should consider. Humility and Confidence seem to be at opposite ends of the spectrum, but the reality is that they are a left and right hand glove for the leader working in tandem.
Reposted by LEI:
You Don’t Need a Fancy Title or Corner Office to Be a Leader
- Published on February 5, 2017
McKinsey Head of Communications, Greater China | LinkedIn Top Voice in Marketing & Social Media in 2015 & 2016
There’s a lot of insecurity and uncertainty in the working world these days. Artificial intelligence and automation are threatening to replace humans in industries and job functions that once seemed secure. Mass lay-offs continue at some of the world’s most iconic companies. And the rise of the “sharing economy” and the “gig economy” are disrupting how work gets done, where, and by whom.
If you want to proactively shape the course of your career (and life), you’ll need to take responsibility for your own professional development. Whether you work for someone else, or strike out on your own, you’ll need to adopt the mindsets and behaviors of a leader.
But being a leader is not contingent on possessing the traditional, external trappings of corporate power. To be a leader in today’s uncertain world, and to have impact at work, you don’t need to have a fancy title or big office all to yourself. Nor do you need to have armies of people doing your bidding. I believe that most of us have within us the potential to become leaders. It’s a skill you can develop through deliberate study and practice.
I know a lot has been written about the subject of leadership here on LinkedIn and elsewhere, and there’s no shortage of free and paid advice available on the topic. But what I’ve learned about leadership I’ve learned mainly from the people I’ve worked with, or from those I’ve had the chance to meet and observe over the years. And, of course, I’ve learned a few things about leadership by studying and practicing it myself throughout my career.
Here are some of the attributes of the most inspiring and successful leaders I’ve had the privilege of working with (or just observing) over the years:
Being a leader is having integrity. It’s following through on what you say you’ll do, and being someone that others can rely on. It’s holding true to your convictions, and “doing what is right, even when nobody is looking,” as the poster on the wall of my daughter’s school says.
Being a leader means thinking of creative ideas for improving how things should be done, and then sharing them proactively, without worrying that someone will reject them, or even take credit for them.
Being a leader is thinking two or three steps ahead — and then plotting a path to get there. One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received during my career is from a project manager I once worked with early on in my career. He told me to always be thinking one or two weeks ahead on a project. Anticipate the problems you need to solve, and start solving them before you reach the point on your plan that tells you that you should be solving them, he advised.
Being a leader is having the guts to speak up and defend yourself or your ideas, even when that makes you the “lone man (or woman) in the room.” I’ve sometimes said things that have not been aligned with the majority view, or which made some people feel uncomfortable. But at those times I remained confident that I was speaking from a place of truth, backed by facts and supported by first-hand experience.
Being a leader is treating others as you would hope they treat you. To me, this is simply the golden rule of human relationships. The most inspiring and successful leaders I know are the ones who treat everyone as people with unique personalities, unique skills, and unique interests. These leaders also recognize that everyone has a personal life beyond the office, and that the hours they spend in the office in service of the company does not define everything that they are. They have wives and husbands and children and elderly parents who rely on them back at home. And the best leaders treat everyone equally, regardless of where someone sits on the corporate pyramid, and regardless of how far up the leader has risen herself.
Being a leader is to be known as a giver, and not just a taker. Share generously of your knowledge, skills, and when needed, time, and don’t always hold the expectation that you’ll get something in return.
Being a leader is having confidence and trust in yourself and in your abilities — even when others don’t know you well enough (or simply don’t care enough) to have the same level of confidence and trust in you. No matter how long you’ve done something or how good you are at it, there will always be doubters. But don’t let that hold you back from taking a stand on an issue or taking action to solve a problem. Even if some people don’t acknowledge your strengths, your skills, or your potential, make sure you are very clear about them.
And, above all, believe in yourself.