I read a very interesting statistic this week. I was reading The Courage to Take Command by Colonel Jill Morgenthaler. She pointed out that the average leader in America today takes his leadership position at age 30, however he doesn’t get any “formal” leadership training until age 40.
So the average leader is wandering aimlessly for 10 years? Seriously? That floors me, but at the same time it resonates.
I think back about my first leadership position. I was well under 30 but I was given no “formal” leadership training. My Manager took me under his wing and offered course corrections from time to time.
Course corrections only come when you get off course. Right? Wouldn’t it make more sense to put me on the correct course to begin with? Yeah, I thought so too.
So, I’m talking to you leaders out there who have not had the opportunity to partake in much or any actual leadership training. And, I’m talking to those who put them in position to fall on their faces.
Now don’t get me wrong, training does not ensure success. Training will not save you from an occasional face plant. Those are just part of the gig. Some things must be learned from the best teacher of all… failure. So be patient, if you haven’t experienced failure yet, tighten your belt, you will!
I’m a ______. Now What?
You’ve been placed in a leadership position. They probably title it differently. You may be a supervisor, a team leader, an assistant manager or even a manager. Makes no difference, if your function is to oversee one or more people, you are a leader. Or at least you are becoming a leader.
Chances are you have not been formally introduced to the definition of leadership. Well here it is. According to John C Maxwell, arguably the worlds best authority on leadership;
“Leadership is influence, nothing more and nothing less”.
So your job is to influence your team. “What the heck? How do I influence people?” You say. “GREAT question!” I say. Well you have to raise your lid. Let me give you three challenges that will, “raise your lid”
Read, Associate and Read Some More
# 1 Read
Leaders are readers. If you want to become a leader you need to know what leaders know. The best way to do that is to read great books about leadership.
I know; you hate to read. So did I. Most folks who wind up living a life of regrets hate to read. The difference between them and those who raise their lid is that they read anyway.
Here are some great book resources:
- The Leaders Bookshelf – 6-8 minute audio reviews of leadership and personal development books. (or on iTunes)
- The Entrepreneurs Library – More in depth reviews on books that every entrepreneur should read.
- Read to Lead – Interviews with interesting authors.
- Audible.com – I love this site for great Audio books.
So if you love to read, awesome, read leadership books. Read every day for 30 to 60 minutes. This will pay you back more than you can ever imagine.
If you hate reading, awesome, read leadership books. Read every day for 15 to 30 minutes. This will pay you back more than you can ever imagine.
The point is: READ! And start with How to Win Friends and Influence People. Then read The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership (this is where the “raise your lid” comes from). If I were in your position, I would read both of these books once a year until the covers fall off! Will you trust me on that? You can thank me later!
# 2 Association
A wise man once said something to the effect of, “in five years you will become the net of the books you read and the people you associate with.” We already covered the reading part. Now let’s talk about association.
You want to be a “real” and “effective” leader? Then do these two things.
- Find a bad leader (or manager). Watch what they do and take a solemn oath to NEVER do those things!
- Find a great leader. Watch what they do and emulate as closely as you can.
Find yourself a mentor. Find someone who is willing to coach you in the art and science of leadership. Any great leader knows that their true leadership will be measured by the legacy he leaves behind.
A great leader always wants to bring up leaders in his wake. Great leaders want to make their teams or their companies better and they know that they will not be around forever. So, to make things better for now is not enough for them. They want their legacy to live on after they are gone.
Find your leadership mentor and tell him or her that you have been watching them. Tell them that you want to be a great leader too. Ask for their help. If they won’t help you, they were probably not the leader you were thinking they were. Don’t give up; find another.
# 3 Did I Mention Reading?
Oh, I did. Well that’s because it’s IMPORTANT! DO IT!