In all likelihood you were promoted to your first leadership position because you were good at your job. That job most likely didn’t involve leadership responsibilities.
The challenge for most new leaders is that what earned them a leadership position will almost certainly not help them lead. They may have managed their job exceptionally well. They may understand how the business works, they may even know how to generate revenue for their organization.
But none of that has anything to do with leading. That’s managing. We manage stuff, we manage things, we may even attempt to manage time but we do not, we cannot, manage people.
Every business or organization needs excellent management to survive. They need superior leadership to thrive.
The first step to becoming a superior leader is to understand that the skill sets that make you a good manager will not make you a good leader. While a high IQ can make you an effective manager it requires a decent EQ to help you develop as a leader.
Leadership is about people and only people. If you don’t “get” people you won’t get leadership either. If you can’t demonstrate that you care for people then people won’t care to follow you.
People cannot follow someone they do not trust. Authentic leaders work to earn the trust of the people they lead on a continuous basis. They know that to be trusted their words must match their actions. Authentic Leaders lead will truth and honesty even when it’s a little painful.
New leaders who want to become experienced Authentic Leaders understand that they are responsible for their own development. They willingly accept whatever development opportunities come from their organizations but they don’t stop there.
They invest their own time and often their own money to further develop themselves. They will attend classes, listen to podcasts and seek out coaches who can help them develop their leadership skills.
If you’re in a leadership position, particularly if you’re new to a leadership position, you should know that your management skills are merely your ticket into the leadership world. Being promoted into a leadership position does not make you a leader, it merely provides you with an opportunity to earn the right to lead.
By the way, while holding a leadership position may make it a bit quicker to earn that right, you do not need a leadership position to lead. You just need to care for people and want to make a difference in their lives.
Authentic Leaders will tell you that leadership development never stops. The most effective leaders continue to learn and develop their own leadership skills. They know that “good enough” never is.
If you’re new to leadership, or struggling in your current leadership role then the good news is that there is lots of help available to you. You only need to make the decision to develop yourself into the most effective leader possible.
That’s part of leading yourself, which always comes before attempting to lead someone else.