Seldom does an individual sense the call of leadership at an early age; as in “I’m going to be a fireman” or “I’m going to be an astronaut”.
“I’m going to be a leader” is not usually the designated path. People with innate skills and passions to make good leaders start out with a desire to make a difference. As the graphic says, “it’s not about the role, but always about the goal.”
I spent my early years pursuing a military career. It wasn’t because I liked war; quite the contrary. I wanted to make a difference by serving my country.
Without exception, the other military personnel I met and worked with had the same sense of purpose. They never wanted to GO to war, but they not afraid of the potential outcome should a war develop.
The Servant Leader
Since its inception, the servant leadership movement has been growing. Being a Servant Leader flips the script on traditional organization theory.
Instead of being a CEO at the top of the company pyramid with all the implications of power and authority, the true Servant Leader chooses to sit in that spot, but approach the job with a whole different mindset.
“The servant-leader is a servant first… It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead.
Servant leaders worry about the growth of the people who report to them. They expect growth of the enterprise through the well-being of the people on the team.
This is radically different from autocratic and benevolent dictator led organizations.
Servant leaders manage by asking questions like:
- How are you doing (and mean it)?
- What are the hurdles in your way?
- What can I do to help?
Great leaders emerge from the dedicated effort to make a difference. As they go about their work, the sense of commitment, direction, and drive are recognized by those around them.
Opportunities open up. Others begin to say “I want that person on my team”.
Why do you think it is that CEO’s with good records move across whole industries to take on new challenges? The proven skills that come from the commitment to make the difference become hot commodities.
As a young, first-time manager, your primary focus should be to define the difference you can make. You may have been selected to be a unit manager without ever first wanting the job.
Now that the role is yours, stop thinking about how to be a better manager and start thinking about the difference you can make for your team.
Leadership will emerge.
As you set about making the decisions needed to make the difference, your natural leadership tendencies will begin to take shape. Day by day, your leadership skills will evolve. Experience will become your best teacher.
When challenges arise (and they will), you can seek advice from those more senior, get a mentor or coach, and grow into the role.
Stay centered on the purpose for your role; the difference you can make.
For more ideas on ways to become a better manager, check out my new book “The Uncommon Commodity”
I’ll show simple, common sense ways to build your management and leadership skill sets and grow your ability to make a difference.
Find a Coach or Mentor
For every new level in your career progression, you will need to grow into the role. I firmly believe rising executives have abit of fear in knowing they need something more to fit a new role they’ve been given.
Few are the leaders who find an easy fit in a new role.
If you are wondering how best to achieve the growth you need, consider enlisting a mentor or engaging with a leadership coach.
Find someone who has been there before. Consult with them to plot your personal growth into the next role.
As you find leadership responsibilities being heeped upon you, take pride in being given that opportunity.
Likely you said you wanted to make a difference. Now the chance is yours.