Anyone can be a leader, whether it’s within your official job title or not. If a leadership role is what you’re seeking, there are ways to build your own path to success. The best way to start is by becoming the best possible employee, however there are a few defining characteristics of leadership that will help you stand out and build your pathway to a leadership position.
Ask for Clarification
One tool that will always set you up for success is to ask questions. In most new or important business situations there tends to be a lack of clarity. If you aren’t 100% sure of what the bigger picture is, how are you supposed to prioritize your tasks and projects? As an employee, and eventually as a leader, you owe it to yourself to seek clarification anytime you are overwhelmed, confused, or misunderstood by others.
Your manager and coworkers are great resources to ask questions but don’t fall into a trap of making your boss the first go-to answer for all problems. Do some research of your own and come up with some ideas of your own before asking your boss for a solution. You want to showcase to those around you that you are a critical thinker.
Master Your Skills
Is there a portion of your job you, or others, really struggle with? Rather than spending countless resources making up for any shortage, make a conscious effort to master the skills yourself. This could be both a hard skill or a soft skill, both types are needed to be a true leader. Try seeking out a mentor, enrolling in a course, or attending a relevant seminar. Taking this initiative, and investing in yourself, shows great leadership potential.
Take Ownership of Your Role
There’s a major difference between disengaged employees who simply check things off their to-do list and those that are actively invested in their role. Taking ownership of your role and responsibilities is not part of the job description, it’s a state of mind. This means you have genuine interested in the company and take initiative rather than just clocking in and waiting for direction. Over time, your boss will feel comfortable handing over more responsibility without the need to micromanage your work. Taking ownership will help guide you into a leadership role over time.
Seek Out Accountability
Actively taking initiative is one part of the job. Keeping yourself accountable is another part that helps measure the success of your efforts. Regardless if there is a review process in place at your company, keep track of your actively and deliver the report to your manager on a regular basis. This will encourage constructive feedback for you to improve and continuously get better as an employee. It will also help set up best practices for when you are a manager yourself.
The truth is, leadership isn’t easy and it’s going to take some extra work on your end. As an employee, it’s easy to get stuck in a rut of blaming others for shortcomings around you. Rather than going that route, taking initiative to better yourself will set you up for a foundation of success and ultimately be more rewarding in the long-run.