I love the questions I receive from leaders! Over the last few years, many of the questions have been unique to a specific situation, however, there are others that ring true across age, gender, nationality and stage of career. These are some of my favorites. Today is one of those questions: How can I get ahead as a leader?
Let’s be honest – virtually every leader has asked this question in one form or another. Who doesn’t want to be successful? The good news, there are many things a leader can do to increase his or her chances of success. The following are several strategies leaders use, intentionally or intuitively, to “get ahead.”
Grow yourself – Our capacity to grow determines our capacity to lead. Ken Blanchard and I wrote about this in our book, Great Leaders Grow. We control our readiness – others control our opportunities. Are you ready for more responsibility?
Focus on contribution – How are you currently adding value as a leader? What could you do to add more value to your team and your organization? If your focus is on your own career it is hard to maximize your contribution.
Help others win – The best leaders are always others-centered. How can you help others win? How much of your time are you investing in your team? How much time are you investing in grooming emerging leaders? Do people believe you want them to win?
Develop leaders – The highest form of leadership is one in which a leader raises up other leaders - not as an accident, but as a result of conscious effort. If your career is stalled, perhaps you have fallen prey to the trap of delegation… a great strategy for getting work done and a lousy strategy for growing your influence and “getting ahead.”
Build capacity - Do you have the personal capacity to assume more responsibility? Are you constantly creating more leadership capacity? If you and I cannot do more, our organizations will not give us more to do. The quest for capacity is always on my radar screen.
Help your boss be wildly successful – One of my mentors, Jimmy Collins, wrote about this in his book, Creative Followership. This strategy is a proven way to add value, grow as a leader and help others (in this case, your boss) win. If you embrace this mentality, you may be surprised how many ways you can serve the person you report to in the organization.
Guard your heart – If your heart is not right, no one cares about your skills. Many leaders cannot cultivate followers because people question their heart. Leadership character ultimately determines your level of success as a leader. Skills are critical, but few careers are derailed for lack of them. Leaders who stumble most often do so because of issues of the heart.
When you find yourself in a situation when you really don't know what to do next, my best advice is to serve - Great Leaders Serve![GLS_Shield]
What other strategies have you seen leaders use successfully in order to “get ahead?”