There’s a common misconception regarding the title of “leader”: You don’t have to be a manager or a supervisor in order to lead. If you’re providing direction or support to fellow colleagues, you’re a leader. More importantly, being a leader starts with being able to manage yourself effectively.
If you one day wish to move up the corporate ladder and lead others, you must start with yourself. Even if you have no interest in entering a management position, it is still in your own best interest to lead yourself. Those who tend to get the largest raises or are consistently recognized by peers and management are the top performers who have mastered the art of leading themselves.
No matter what your career is, if you want to be successful, leading yourself effectively means you do the following:
Be proactive – A good leader can solve problems. A great leader recognizes smaller problems and works to solve them before they become critical issues down the road. They take action without needing to be told by their immediate supervisor when to do so.
Use the term “I need…” – No one has all the answers. The best leaders are those that recognize they can’t do everything themselves. They use the term “I need” with appropriate individuals, such as their own managers or content experts. They also don’t let their ego get in the way of saying “I need help” when they are overwhelmed.
Know that there are alternative solutions – Sometimes, you have a problem that cannot be solved by what you have available within your company. Not every organization has loads of cash to throw at problems that can only be solved by external tools. Maybe the issue can be solved by open source software. Or, perhaps it can be solved by a subject matter expert who you just happen to network with. A great leader knows that cash is not the absolute means to an end.
You align with others on goals and tasks – What is the end destination? Do we know how to get there? Are we in agreement regarding the answers to both questions? Getting alignment with your leader and those you work with is critical so that they know what’s expected of them and you know what they expect of you in return. All it takes is a conversation to figure out the road map.
What characteristics do self-leaders exhibit that make them top performers?