The world needs both followers and leaders. Being a leader, however, is often more lucrative and more rewarding.
But, how can one become a leader? Depending on your situation, getting into a leadership position might not be that difficult. Becoming a good leader, however, takes time and experience. This article can’t replicate that time and experience, but it can help to get you started.
Know The Requirements For The Next Promotion
The first step to getting a leadership position is finding a job with good upward mobility and keeping an eye out for opportunities. Some jobs only let you move so high without different experience or higher education.
Once you take a job, knowing the next step up and what the requirements are can help you to work toward that next step up by showing that you have the required skills or learning the required skills. Becoming a part time or online student to get any required or preferred degrees can help too.
Let The Boss Know You’re Interested
Initiative is a huge part of leadership. Letting your supervisor know that you are interested in taking on a leadership position – even before one becomes available – will let your supervisor know that you have initiative.
Of course, being a leader also requires patience and hard work, so don’t quit the job if a leadership position doesn’t immediately become available.
In addition to undoing all of the time and effort that you have put in at your current job, it may suggest to your next employer that you don’t have patience and tenacity.
Take On More Responsibility
Leadership also means responsibility. Taking on more responsibility before taking on a leadership position can help you in a number of ways. For one thing, it will show your supervisor that you are willing and able to take on more responsibility. It will also help you to get used to a greater level of responsibility so that when you end up in a leadership position you will know the ropes and know what it takes to work them.
It’s important, however, not to take on too many responsibilities too quickly. Taking on more responsibility will only impress the boss if you are able to handle it. Besides, being a leader also takes restraint and passing up an opportunity because you can admit that you aren’t ready for it is a wise and respectable move.
Find A Mentor
Taking on responsibility, showing initiative, all of these things are ways to both demonstrate that are interested in and prepared for a leadership position, as well as to get on the boss’s good side.
If you and the boss are on good terms, and the boss knows that you are looking to – let’s be honest—take his or her job, you may be able to arrange a mentorship. Mentorships are great ways to learn the ropes from someone who’s handled them.
Mentorships are also helpful for your supervisor. Look at it this way: your boss is probably looking for their next promotion too. Once they get it, they’re going to need someone to fill their shoes. If that person isn’t ready for the job, it’ll be your boss who has to deal with it.
As a result, it’s in your boss’s best interest to have someone ready to take their job when they go on to bigger and better things.
Don’t try to rush into a mentorship too soon, however. Mentorships are all about trust. After all, a crooked mentor could take advantage of all of your time end energy to lighten their load without actually intending to help you. Similarly, you could take advantage of all of their time and energy to put those skills to work at a different job.
Most of us want to stop following and become a leader. The best way to become a good leader, however, is to take advantage of all of the opportunities to learn and grow that following represents. Keep an eye open for the next opportunity at a leadership position, but don’t take your time as a follower for granted.
What Do Great Leaders Do?
There are a lot of resources out there on great leaders in history and how you can be more like them. But, what do great leaders actually do, and what does it mean to be a great leader?
A leader performs many tasks. Not all of these are dramatic and rewarding to the ego but all of them are important for moving your team towards its goal.
To be a great leader, you first have to be a leader and leaders… lead. At its bear basics, “leader” is an administrative position. It involves overseeing a task or a team and making sure that they are working towards their goal.
This is again, however, the very basic requirement. There are software programs and tools that technically fit this definition. Keeping people organized is what it means to be a leader, but not what it means to be a great leader.
Great Leaders Orchestrate And Inspire
Where leaders begin to become great is when they stop merely organizing and begin orchestrating. Much of a leader’s value is intrinsic, coming from their own talents and abilities. Much of it also comes from knowing how to take their resources and their teams and fitting them to the circumstance.
Great leaders don’t just make sure that their team members are sticking to task, they help to make sure that their team members are in the places where they can be of the most use.
Similarly, keeping team members on task becomes easier and more rewarding when you are able to inspire them. This can be done by stressing the importance of the task, but it can also be done by building camaraderie with the team.
Too many people think that there is the team and then above the team there is the leader. As has been said before and will be said again, the leader is merely an administrative position on the team. Leaders have different responsibilities from the team, but they also share the same goals and often the same fate.
Another one of the basic leadership jobs is mediating. This is another basic administrative task of the leader. Leaders hear their teams to help their teams deal with problems.
Sometimes this means solving disputes within the team, and sometimes it means helping the team deal with more systemic problems by helping to move their problem up the ladder.
Being a “middle man” is a role that few people passionately desire to fill. It is important, however. And like organizing, mediating is a role that leaders must perform but it is not the only thing that great leaders occupy their time with.
Great Leaders Create Lasting Change
Of course, great leaders don’t just mediate, they create systemic change. Most of the problems that people run into at their work are problems with the ways that things are done. It is often easier and faster to address these issues on a case-by-case basis.
However, finding out why these problems arise and changing the system will mean that problems of that kind don’t appear as often.
Great leaders will also often make their roles as mediator less important by supplying education and resources that make it easier for other people to solve problems themselves. This frees up leaders to do more important things, even though creating or changing these systems takes time.
Too many people try to become great leaders before they become leaders. Being a great leader isn’t about delegating away all of the boring stuff so that you can give speeches and throw parties or whatever it is people think great leaders do. The best way to be a great leader is to know your job and do it well.