“You will never be a leader unless you first learn to follow” – TiorioIf you want to become a leader, start preparing now. Don’t wait for appraisals, company training or the right opening. You are in your position because that’s where management believe you belong. If you want to go forward, it’s up to you to exceed expectations, so that the decision makers sit up and take notice. The point of entry is to surpass requirements in your present job so that no-one can question your performance. This factor always engenders respect in the executive team and is the foundation for your progress. Also, adhere to your commitments, be punctual, value and appreciate people, listen to and treat others with respect and courtesy. Start thinking like a leader – what focus should you have? What do good leaders do? All senior members of a team assist the boss by sharing leadership – very much like the older, more experienced members of a rugby team. They find out what else needs to be done, use their initiative and take action. You can offer support by setting an exemplary example, assisting peers to develop, inspiring and motivating, maintaining your own discipline and getting results by facilitating action. “Can I help?” are three very powerful words and superiors make a mental note when you step up to the mark. When I was a Director at Alexander Forbes, occasionally I used to wake up at midnight remembering a task that I’d forgotten to do. In the morning, a frenetic call to my staff, only to find Amelia saying, “Don’t worry, it’s already been done”. She had that ‘bring it on’ attitude and it took her only three years to move from PA to Local Director. Go the extra mile in service delivery. Amelia, Sarah and Lana did this and clients always showed appreciation by mentioning them to me by name. Extend your circle of influence. Don’t only restrict yourself to your department – build relationships with as many other people in the organisation as possible. Exhibit boundless energy and do things that can be seen by people outside your immediate circle. Volunteer for the ‘social committee’ or get involved at company functions. Do not underestimate the importance of the steps you are taking at this moment. Cindy Norcott in her book ‘How to be Unstoppable’ has words to the effect, “What you did three months ago will start bearing fruit today”. Do something now to initiate your leadership journey.
“It’s not who you know, it’s who knows you.”