The days of waiting to show leadership until you move into a formal or senior leadership role are over. The game has changed and professionals are expected to lead from where they are. The notion that leadership only comes from the person in the front giving orders is the old order of things. Using an orchestra as an example, leadership is no longer just the role of the “conductor.” Every individual in an organization plays a critical role in shaping the sound of the orchestra. Today’s organizations and managers are looking for individuals who have experience demonstrating leadership in their current role or context. Leadership is a skill that must be cultivated over time, and there is no better time to start than now. Though you may not be sitting in the C-Suite yet, or even managing other people right now, there are ways for you to demonstrate your Personal Leadership skills. Tapping into your Personal Leadership skills today will allow you to do the critical self-work required to lead others and organizations when the time comes.
Over my years working in the public and private sectors, and non-profit organizations—I have discovered a direct correlation between certain leadership behaviors and professional and personal success. Here are 4 ways you can begin to grow your Personal Leadership skills:
- Manage Your Internal Environment
Managing your internal environment is key to Personal Leadership. We rarely have control over the external situations happening around us, but the one thing that we can direct is how we will prepare our hearts and minds to respond. This core behavior is demonstrated by qualities like self-awareness and self-regulation, understanding your personal motivations, understanding your personal strengths and areas for growth, your ability to accept critical feedback, and your ability to manage your emotional responses and triggers.
- Ask For What You Need
The ability to ask for what you need is a must have for Personal Leadership. Admitting that you need help, need resources, or even need to talk through an issue, takes a great deal of humility, and we all know that humility is a top quality of leaders. Asking for what you need, and not waiting for someone else to bring it to you, is a sign that you truly desire to grow and learn. This core behavior is demonstrated by qualities like your willingness to ask for and receive help, your willingness to let others into your life (i.e. mentorship), and your willingness to proactively seek feedback.
- Decide To Take Risks
Deciding to take risks is critical to your pursuit of Personal Leadership. Individuals with extraordinary Personal Leadership are not afraid to step out on faith and jump head-first into unchartered territory. They are pioneers and trailblazers, and understand that without risks there are no rewards. This core behavior is demonstrated by qualities like your willingness to try new ways of doing things, your willingness to fail, and your ability to move forward in unknown or uncomfortable situations.
- Embody Your Personal Mission, Vision and Values
The ability to truly live out your personal mission, vision and values is nothing less than essential to your Personal Leadership. The most inspiring leaders—those who people follow willingly and with excitement—not only know their purpose, but are living their purpose, and are grounded in personal values that shape their daily decisions and actions. This core behavior is demonstrated by the alignment between your actions and your personal mission, vision and values, presence of clear goals, and how you bring your authentic self to every life setting.When you put these four areas together, you will see that they spell “M.A.D.E.,” and you were indeed M.A.D.E. To Lead. First lead from where you are, and continue to build on and cultivate those skills over time. Do not wait to show your leadership skills because your team, your organization, your community and our world all need your leadership now.