When young professionals are equipped with tools for professional and career development early, it creates a seismic shift in business and society. Leadership was not taught to me in college. Neither was how to build relationships, resolve conflicts or demonstrate competency.
The time, effort and energy lost trying to navigate these crucial areas is a direct impact on business and personal productivity.
If you do an Amazon book search for leadership you’ll get close to 40,000 results. The topic of leadership is a well-trodden path. It’s an exhaustive subject with many leaders giving their experiences and perspectives.
When you search for leadership and young professionals however, that list gets a lot smaller, somewhere close to 400 results. And, reading through the first page of the results, only a handful of the books are speaking to young professionals.
So, here is a concise approach for young professionals to begin their leadership journey -
“Leadership is influence—nothing more, nothing less.” - John Maxwell
Einstein once said make everything as simple as possible but no simpler. That’s what John was able to do with the above quote. You can quickly evaluate your progress as a leader by seeing how much influence you possess.
Can you convince your peers, colleagues, managers to go along on the journey with you?
Within your team, in what areas are you relied upon to provide direction?
Influence isn’t about the number of employees that report to you. It’s not about manipulating those around you to get your way. Influence, and by definition Leadership, is about guiding others on a journey where you have determined the path. If you are consistently influencing those around you, then you are leading them!
“The self-discovery of your inherent leadership potential and an understanding of who you are and what you are meant to be are the keys to fulfilling your purpose from existence as a leader.” - Myles Munroe
In short, know your values as a person and demonstrate them as a leader. Values can be another nebulous term that doesn’t feel tangible. But, your values are simply what you believe in.
You might believe that the entire team should have a voice before decisions are made, lead accordingly.
You might believe that the best solutions are cross-functional not siloed, lead accordingly.
You should always be demonstrating your values. You should be advocating for those values when they present themselves. It can sometimes be intimidating to take a stand when you’re new to a role or to work in general. Just remember that everyone has a perspective, whether or not they share it. Be open to those perspectives, while making your values clear.
“The moment a leader steps away from his core competencies, his effectiveness as a leader diminishes.” - Andy Stanley
The foundation on which leadership is built is competency. You have to be able to consistently deliver results to be a leader. A key component of leadership is demonstrating the behavior that you desire to see. Don’t fall victim to the notion that the more influence you obtain the less work you’ll have to do.
Leaders demonstrate the behavior they desire to see in others.
Leaders consistently deliver results.
Everyone shows up as a leader differently according to their values and capabilities. No two leaders behave exactly alike. That’s why the topic is so fascinating and there continues to be so much to say about it. What I hope you gained is a starting point where you can to develop your leadership fingerprint and DNA to obtain your most impactful results.