Today’s workforce is saturated with commentary of how to be a good leader, but nobody gives you a road map showcasing what it takes to become that leader. With a 2014 Bersin by Deloitte survey revealing that leadership is the highest-priority issue businesses face, it’s important to know what it takes to become the leader you want to be.
While desiring to lead now is not a bad thing, if you want to lead, first learn how to follow. Many times, the best followers are the ones who become the next great leaders. Here are three things employees can do now to become a good leader in the future.
- Emulate and Add Value
If you want to be a good leader, find an individual to emulate. When you think of a good leader, who comes to mind? Possibly Steve Jobs, Abraham Lincoln, maybe even Michael Jordan? None of these individuals got to be leaders on his own. All good leaders at one point were led there, and each one had mentors and leaders who inspired him.
The same is true if you want to lead in your job. Find a person you can emulate; study the way they led and the principles they built their success on. This does not mean copying every characteristic or mimicking each decision; it means analyzing their decisions, learning from their mistakes and applying your abilities to the information and opportunities at hand.
- Master the Craft
In order to make it through college, I became really good at making sandwiches and helping customers. Even though it was a stepping-stone job, it was crucial that I was successful. To be a good leader tomorrow, you need to take pride in what you do today. The principles and discipline learned from those tedious jobs will serve you well later.
For instance, those menial tasks taught me the value of hard work and a high level of customer service. These characteristics are vital with any job, and employees who master them will get more opportunities. If you can be faithful and disciplined in the little things, upper management will realize that you can handle the bigger responsibilities as well.
- Be a Load Lifter
Too many employees spend inordinate amounts of time trying to shine on their own accord. As such, one of the most underrated aspects in the journey of becoming a leader is learning how to be a load lifter. Good managers recognize when employees would rather chase personal accomplishments over the team’s success. Employees out for their own gain occasionally may do good work, but they are easily forgotten in the long run. This is because teams win and lose together – never as a result of only one person. Knowing this, it is vital to set aside your ego and strive for the good of the group. Do all that you can to make your boss look good, and when he or she rises through the organization, you will, too.
If you want to be a leader, the journey begins before you garner the title. Being a leader who encourages growth and development is a continual process that repeats every morning, regardless of your current position.