Whether you have been promoted, have stepped in to new role or have successfully scaled up a business; Leadership is something we must learn.
It's tough to transition in to a role that requires you to become a business leader. You have likely been promoted to Sales Director because you have consistently performed well in Sales or you may have successfully scaled a start up business that now has 10 employees because you are top class Entrepreneur.
The Entrepreneurial flair, sales, project management, presentation or other skills that have propelled you in to the position you are in now won't help you to be become a top class leader. The same can be applied to why the best footballers don't always become the best head coaches or managers!
Around 12 months ago, I found myself in a position where I have been promoted within a scale up business. I'd been promoted because I was technically strong, I had a proven track record of getting positive results for my customers, I'd managed a team successfully and I had implemented a few ideas that helped the business to grow. None of these things meant I would be a great leader though!
For starters, Leadership is a noun, much like running or smiling; it's not something that just happens. If you want to improve at running, you must take the time to practise and like smiling you must do it so often that it becomes a habit!
I'm now part way through my journey of becoming the leader and person I want to become but I would like to share what I have learnt so far.
What is a leader?
This is not a financial impact, title or accolade but the reason you and your organisation exists.
Brave & Selfless
Leadership isn't about taking the credit, it isn't about shirking tough decisions and it isn't about you! Leaders will always go first and they will take the risk so their people can benefit.
They have a knack of turning a vision in to reality. The misconception here is that this involves using authority or power but that couldn't be further from the truth. True leadership is creating a vision that gives every person involved fulfilment.
Top Leadership tips
If I could've given myself two tips 12 months ago:
Tip #1 Learn
Make it your job to close your skills gap... why would it be anyone else's responsibility? Just like excelling at a sport, you must make time to learn leadership. Speed up the process by finding a mentor, a business group, utilise technology such as Social media (follow your favourite leaders on Facebook) or Blinkist (listen to key insights between meetings). Find ways to ensure leadership is something you learn every day.
Tip #2 Be self aware
Get to know yourself incredibly well. Understanding how you think, feel, your values, strengths and weaknesses is underrated. By understanding yourself better; you become happier, you learn quicker, you become more focussed, you know how hard you can push yourself and the result is that you can make a much bigger impact. The impact you can make is not just on those that report directly in to you but with your family, friends, customers and each and every person in your business.
However, if you're a visual learner like me, don't bother reading anything above and just watch this video. This four minute video by Derek Sivers is possible the best example of what leadership really is: it’s unselfish, it’s rewarding and it isn’t that complicated!