Leadership is exemplified in attitude and in actions more than just words.
The number of courses to learn about being an effective manager are dwindling. But, the number of programs on leadership are growing exponentially. And books too. AMAZON now distributes nearly 200,000 books on the topic.
Why is this? Perhaps Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric, gave us a hint when he proclaimed in his last annual report “Let’s talk about the future because that’s where we’re going to be spending most of our time.” Leadership is about creating the future rather than being a statistic about the past. It is about learning the lessons of organizations such as Tesla, Airbnb, Netflix, Skype and Apple that have disrupted and transformed entire industries in just a few years. Its about ensuring that you’re ahead of the curve. And, it more important for higher echelons in organizations than it is for those on the frontline but it does require managers to build teams eager to embrace challenges and change at all times.
Leadership is more about the future whereas management is more about the present. Getting things done efficiently and cost effectively daily is important. Trouble is that most managers are hunkered down maintaining the status quo. It’s like driving a car and looking through the rear-view mirror! This approach is counter-productive, preventing the organization from making the quantum leaps that it now takes to survive let alone be effective. Leaders on the other hand are curious about the future. They read and network voraciously. They see and embrace the challenges of a rapidly changing world. And what they see is a future that bears little resemblance to the past. So, when they review different approaches to leadership, they embrace the role of possibilities. And, they create an environment where people allow themselves to be led because they want to follow. And, even if the changes are not always as impactful as strategic changes typically are, they are nevertheless significant because they reinforce a culture of innovation.
So, what about you? Are you ready for leadership? Here are some steps that you can take to move you in the right direction.
Step 1. Evaluate your leadership style. Undertake a 360 ° evaluation so that you have a benchmark of your strengths and weaknesses.
Step 2. Find a mentor. Identify someone who exemplified your ideal leader and ask them to mentor you on your journey.
Step 3. Be humble. Ask for feedback from your boss, peers and your team regularly. Learn for their observations and suggestions.
Step 4. Take every opportunity for training. Find a number of workshop that will challenge you in the areas of your deficiencies. Make training an ongoing process. Learn in different ways by taking on new assignments, attending conferences, workshops, lunch and learns, webinars and watching Ted Talk.
Step 5. Embrace new ideas and approaches that make you, your team and your organizations great. And, open your mind to best practices irrespective of where they come from.
40% of all managers are likely to be retiring in the next decade. Opportunities are huge for those who will lead. Embrace the future and you will be rewarded handsomely.