Feeling like you have no say in your career? Feeling like a leaf drifting down a river, at the mercy of the currents, with no say in where you land? Feeling generally frustrated with your work?
Like so many people today, these feelings may seem familiar. Increasing competition, technological innovation, and shifts in economic fundamentals are creating an ever-demanding work environment, a work environment where you find yourself reacting to situations rather than helping to define them.
But you do not have to feel, or be, powerless. You have a say in your work and your career. How? Choose to demonstrate. Leadership is everyone’s job. By demonstrating leadership qualities everyday, we would earn both trust and respect, which are the true sources of power.
People who demonstrate leadership are able to inspire rather than just demand.
Examples of Excellence
Have you ever worked with someone who was kind, hardworking, and went out of his or her way to help others–even if it meant more work or was clearly a sacrifice? If that person asked you for help, even someone less senior to you at work, you would not hesitate to say yes. Your response is a reflection of the respect and trust you have for that person–or any individual who has earned the ability to influence by simply demonstrating leadership.
Keep this in mind: Great leadership is not based upon authority. There are manywho are not leaders. People who demonstrate leadership are able to inspire rather than just demand. Leadership is also not based upon a “rah-rah” personality. An outgoing personality is no guarantee. In fact, different types of people often exhibit leadership skills: quiet, demonstrative, analytical, and intuitive leaders exist everywhere.
Resolve, Results, Values
When it comes right down to it, leadership is about resolve, results, and values. Leadership involves energizing others and achieving core goals. How can you do this? How does one take advantage of every leadership opportunity? Here are several ideas for to consider:
- Start small, but start. Begin with something you feel comfortable with, something that enables you to demonstrate your experience or knowledge. Make a meaningful contribution to discussions rather than keeping to yourself. Volunteer to help those who are struggling.
- Embrace change. People and organizations always learn and grow–or they slip into decline. Maintaining the status quo is not a viable option, but it is a dangerous myth that too many people pursue. Be open to new ideas and responsibilities. Seek new opportunities, even if it requires additional work. Change is good, not bad.
- Don’t play it safe. It can be scary to try something new or to have people watch your every move. Leadership requires courage; you must go beyond the safety zone of your past experience and abilities. In short, you must be willing to be uncomfortable. For example, after completing an assignment, suggest a few next steps that are in line with your department’s goals and direction. Extend yourself and take the initiative.
- Develop a vision for your future. Reflect on your career and develop specific steps that will take you in a new direction. Consider the values that serve as your inner compass and translate them into real-world behaviors.
Leadership Is Familiar
Whether we are learning a new task, using a new computer program, or hitting a golf ball, the process requires thinking, practice, and doing. We need to understand our motivations and desires. This creates focus and determination. We need to practice and strengthen ourselves to get the work done. This builds confidence and effectiveness. And we must be alert and seize opportunities when we seen them. This transforms wishes and words into results.