Yesterday a colleague asked me how to be a leader. My first question was: “Do you want a promotion or do you want to be a leader?” “Well both...” he replied.
That was the problem right there: Leadership is not positional. It’s situational.
Nobody describes the power of situational leaders better than John Maxwell, author of 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. Speaking from his own experience as a pastor, he proves that anyone can be a leader if they can embody the qualities he describes in his book (I advise you read it).
I’ve asked many people about what they think it means to be a leader and I’m often told it means “being the boss.” If you have a leader as a boss you’re lucky, because authority doesn’t necessarily mean leadership. True leaders embody the following qualities:
Leaders see what others don’t. They recognize that most others won’t see what they see and they keep this in mind when taking action.
Leaders are the force of change. Many people aren’t comfortable with change but there is a natural tendency for people to follow the status force and a leader is that force.
Leaders have their peers trust and commitment. The biggest challenge faced by all leaders is achieving a trust balance in a relationship. If you’re a leader, people will trust your judgment and not question it.
Leaders are adaptable. The most successful leaders can adapt to the maturity of the individual or group that they’re attempting to lead by adjusting their leadership techniques on a task-oriented basis.
Let’s be real - everyone has different challenges that prevent them from becoming a leader. Some lack authenticity and credibility, meaning there is a gap between what they say and what they do. Others have confidence in themselves but lack confidence in telling other people how to act.
To become a leader your first step is this: make decisions. I constantly remind my colleagues to take advantage of the opportunities where they have the power to make a decision. Regardless of their position, decision-making demonstrates situational leadership and once they have mastered that, positional leadership will soon follow.
Remember, the difference between successful selling and successful people leading is the dimension of leadership. Sales people just don’t have the empathy that business leaders do.