Oftentimes, people feel like they don’t need to be working on leadership skills because they’re not a leader yet. They’re not a Thought Leader, presenting to hundreds of people. They’re not a Manager, with direct reports looking to them for a career advice. Or, they’re not the “Lead” on the project.
If you reframe those “I’m not yet’s…” into “I could be somedays…” you can actually take some great steps towards them. Not only will it help you prepare for when you’re in that role, it will also give a nod to your organization that you’re hankering for the opportunity to take on that kind of responsibility.
Read on for some ideas of what you can be doing right now!
- For the Thought Leader: start honing in on your craft. Read articles, buy books, textbooks, attend lectures, watch youtube videos. Test out different methodologies and see what works, what doesn’t. Start to write. Write what works, write what doesn’t. Whether you write it for yourself, your blog, Medium, or submit it to fastco, getting your thoughts on paper on what you’ve learned will help you create your point of view. Consider asking your organization if you can present some learnings at your next all-hands meeting, or, a smaller team meeting in your discipline. Share your POV, and ask folks for feedback, maybe even consider taping and rewatching. By working on both your content and your delivery, you’ll be developing the skills to be on stage in no time.
- For the Manager: begin to develop your ability to receive and deliver feedback. By soliciting feedback, and working with managers to develop plans to improve, you’ll be getting better at figuring out how to navigate sticky conversations with future employees. And, even better yet, once you start soliciting feedback, you can begin to practice giving upward, sideways, downward feedback which will help you learn tactful ways to communicate what people need to hear. Which, will make you an even better manager because you’ll be able to push your employees to also give you feedback so that you keep improving, too.
- For the Project Lead: try out tactics that you think are important for a project to be successful. Some ideas you may want to run by the project lead (which they’ll probably appreciate since they’re likely already overwhelmed) and others you can probably just try out to cultivate a strong team dynamic. Some ideas? Organize team outings, ensure folks step away from their desk for lunch, practice inclusivity, or try a team norming exercise to learn about everyone’s different working styles and boundaries.
So, there you have it. Whether you want to one day become a Thought Leader, Manager and/or Project Lead, there’s a lot you can be doing right now to get ready!