How to Tap into Your Own Leadership Potential
“Everyone is a leader because everyone influences someone.” – Dirk C. Maxwell.
We all have qualities that in certain life circumstances can promote us to de facto or official leaders. The ability to influence others is, however, not leadership in and of itself.
Under certain circumstances, we are all leaders.
Effective leadership prompts people to act in a certain way. It directly triggers action.
Influence, on the other hand, impacts character, values, and thought-processes. It is a much more subtle tool than leadership, and therefore perhaps less of an asset in the corporate world.
Leadership skills include influence. Influencers, however, may not possess the skills that might make them effective leaders. That said, we can all develop our leadership skills and use the influence that we have positively, even in the absence of authority. At the very least, we are all in a position of authority over our values, character, and ultimately, our actions.
How can one tap into his/her leadership potential?
- Studying leadership role models
- Finding a mentor
- Moving out of one’s comfort zone
- Being critical of one’s own leadership moments
- Learning from mistakes
- Working on one’s maturity
- Putting oneself in the shoes of other leaders and experiencing the leadership moments of one’s mentor
Leadership Role Models
Watching others lead can inspire future leaders and offer them a reservoir of positive experiences they can later tap. Ideally, this reservoir should comprise one’s own experiences. Becoming a student of other leaders and watching them in action is, however, the next best thing.
The Importance of Mentorship
A mentor provides personal feedback and guidance. He/she can help a trainee identify and leverage his/her strengths. Through such feedback, they can also learn their weaknesses as well as ways to address them.
A mentor can be a leadership coach, but one does not need to undergo formal leadership training to find a mentor.
Leaving the Comfort Zone
“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” – Neale Donald Walsch.
To improve in any way, we need to challenge ourselves. We need to overcome our natural reluctance to leave our comfort zone and our proclivity to resist change.
Your comfort zone defines your limits. Take that step to transcend them.
Whatever lies outside one’s comfort zone can potentially deliver setbacks. Using such setbacks as learning experiences is the hallmark of the mature leader.
Maturity of Character
Mature leaders are capable of viewing failures as stepping stones towards acquiring new skills and knowledge. Such leaders do not see failure as a sign of their weakness, but rather as part of the reality of life, one that they can turn to their advantage.
One can often learn more from setbacks than from successes.
Learning to Walk in Someone Else’s Shoes
Experiencing the leadership successes and failures of a mentor vicariously will teach one when to evoke his/her leadership skills. This exercise will also prepare the high-potential employee/trainee for critical tests of leadership.
Leadership training preaches several core principles, such as:
- Formulating a vision
- Thinking and acting strategically
- Communicating effectively
- Being able to influence others and build relationships
- Nurture leadership in others
Perhaps most important of all such principles is that of the common purpose. For a leader, common purpose always comes before personal interest.
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