“Anyone at any level can learn to be a leader and help to shape or influence the world around them.” Mark Sanborn
When coaching and training emerging leaders, people who have been identified as having potential for leadership positions, one of the hurdles I often help them leap over is to see themselves as a leader. Which is why I often recommend Mark Sanborn’s book “You don’t need a title to be a leader”.
In a nutshell, leadership is about making a positive difference in people’s lives by helping them move from point A to point B. Leadership expert, John C. Maxwell, states it this way, “True leadership is about influence, nothing more, nothing less.”
If you are responsible to work with others to get things done, you can influence them to move in a positive direction. This includes improving personal productivity and efficiency, communicating with others to foster collaboration and gain new perspectives, make recommendations to improve existing services and products, taking initiative to resolve a conflict, etc.
In order to lead with influence, you must first be willing to view yourself as a leader and take responsibility to develop your leadership ability.
A great place to start is to adopt a developing leader mindset. Leaders with influence passionately embrace these beliefs:
- I value people. My role as a leader is to be of service to others. Yes, productivity and profits matter, but they don’t happen without people.
- Even if I am not a natural leader, I can learn to lead – one skill and one behaviour at a time. I may not be “born into leadership” but I can “birth my leadership”.
- I can lead from where ever I am in an organization. I don’t need a title to be a leader. I can lead myself, I can influence my peers, and I can influence across the organization.
- I hold primary responsibility to develop myself as a leader. My organization holds secondary responsibility.
- I can start today to develop myself as a leader. When the formal leadership opportunity comes my way, I’ll be equipped to take it on.
- I can intentionally use my work experiences to develop my skills as a both a professional and a leader. Increasing my technical skills does not automatically make me more successful. Improving my leadership skills enables me to be more effective at what I do.
- Leadership is an inside-out, action-oriented job. The path to becoming a leader with influence requires me to know who I am, and lead from my purpose, passion, and strengths. It requires a willingness to learn through and from my experiences.
What mindset have you held about yourself as a leader and about your own path to development? What new mindset do you want to adopt? What is one action you can take now to practice living from that mindset?