Before you can lead anyone else you must be able to lead yourself. Before you can lead up you must lead yourself exceptionally well.
Leading “up” simply means extending your influence to those above you in your organization. When you lead up you have much greater impact on your organization than your position might suggest. Your influence comes not from your title or position, it comes from the value that you bring to the entire organization.
To lead yourself exceptionally well and earn the opportunity to lead up in your organization you must first learn to control your attitude. Your attitude is entirely your choice. If you don’t fully believe that then you have surrendered one of life’s greatest assets to the whims of other people’s moods and “stuff” over which you have no control.
Yes, your attitude, or your positive attitude, can be one of your greatest assets. Your attitude shapes almost every decision you make. It can either add to or subtract from the ability you have to tackle the tough jobs required to lead up.
While you may not be able to control all the events of your day and you certainly can’t control the attitude of other people, you DO have COMPLETE control over YOUR attitude.
To lead up you must learn to control your calendar. You must be able to say no to the often unimportant urgent things so you can focus on the truly important value adding activities where you can make a difference for the organization.
You must realize as a person looking to extend their influence that your words matter. As your influence within an organization grows your words will carry more weight. As you work to earn the opportunity to lead up you will need to choose your words with care because your credibility is fragile and the wrong word at the wrong time can damage it.
If you’re going to lead yourself exceptionally well you must develop the discipline to think BEFORE you talk. Great leaders know that there is no way to “unsay” something that has been said and even worse, there is no way to “unhear” what has been heard.
Think of it like this: if your words aren’t adding value to a conversation then what are they adding?
To lead yourself exceptionally well you must find balance in your life. You must lead your life according to your core values and goals. Your core values and goals are what allow you to set priorities in all areas of your life. Knowing, truly knowing, your core values and setting goals around them, allows you to make balanced decisions that reflect who you really are.
It will look to other people as if you “walk you talk,” it will look that way because you will be walking your talk. You might be able to fool some people for a while but when attempting to lead up, frauds are discovered pretty quickly.
To lead yourself and to lead up, know who you are, know what you stand for and work everyday to be true to yourself.