Leadership comes in many shapes and forms and can occur in a variety of places, but the journey of a great leader starts with preparation. There’s always an initial cycle of sweat equity build up that takes place first before a person develops the power of influence.
To be the best that you can be, you must study your craft in all places where you can learn more about it, and never be apologetic about being the best and being prepared.
The Journey of a Well Respected Leader
When you study well respected leaders and read how they were able to influence others, you will notice that many of them went through a process of preparation. They knew their craft inside and out; they completely understood whatever it was that they were involved with. They knew the importance of being a student of their craft.
It’s important that you realize the learning that has to occur in order to become a great leader, because leading is really putting what you’ve learned into practice.
Leaders are practicing their craft, and continuously learning along the way. It’s like on-the-job training – learning while you work. Getting that experience under your belt.
So yes, leaders know their craft inside and out, but there’s always more to learn, because as you learn and grow, you start seeing things from a different point of view; so you’re always applying what you’re continuously learning from these varying viewpoints.
When I first started my career, I did everything from scratch. There were grants that had to be written, so I learned how to write them. I also learned how to do budgets by writing dozens of them myself.
I always said to myself that if I ever get to the point of where I have people who work for me who will write these things, I’ll know the ins and outs of doing it; therefore, I could teach, inspire, and help them.
So, I’ve always had the “I’ve got to learn to do it so that I’ll be more prepared to help others learn it” mentality, and this mentality is how I, not only became a successful leader, but a well respected one. People respect leaders that have taken time to learn how to do what they’re telling others to do.
Develop Your Bag of Success Tools
Now keep in mind that there’s more to being prepared than just studying, reading, and applying; you must envision and role play too.
For example, I would practice role playing and envisioning meetings that would take place the next day. What I would do is envision and play out the outcome of the meeting (as opposed to how the meeting would take place).
I would say to myself, “What do I want to see happen as a result of this meeting? What is the outcome? What is the vision?”
So what I’m saying to you is to be more of a chess player than a checkers player. Just like in chess, it’s not just the first move that matters, you’ve got to be strategic and think about where you want to get to and then work your way back.
Think about your vision. What is the overall goal?
Envisioning the outcome is part of the preparation process, and you have to do it over and over again.
If you have a great experience – let’s say on the job; or something that you did with a product; or something with your business; or something in the community – what did you learn from it?
Whatever it was that you learned, rehearse that; practice it. Role play it out.
Do it again…and again….and again.
Try the same techniques that you used that were successful – use them over and over again, so that over the years you develop this bag of tools that you can pull out when you need it.
Get Out There
So, again, the learning, the envisioning, the being the best at your craft, the looking at others that you admire and learning from them…all of that is part of being prepared.
Then the leading – the actual putting it into practice piece. Again, that’s the on-the-job training, and there’s nothing like having the experience.
So once you invest the time in your initial learning, you’ve got to actually get out there and do whatever you do in your field of work. Keep in mind, however, that you’ve got to be a lifelong learner and practice as you learn.
Preparation and practice is not a one-time thing, it’s a continuous thing. That’s what being a great, well respected leader is all about.