You don’t need to be a CEO to be a leader

An interesting post on Forbes.com by leadership expert Mike Myatt got me to thinking. What about leadership skills in “non” leaders. Why can’t you and me—the bottom half of the ladder, okay maybe the middle third—take a page from the leadership manual and be leaders in our own right?

Here are three highlights, taken from Myatt’s advice for leaders and how they pertain to us—the non CEOs, VPs and presidents of the world.

Great leaders are never satisfied with traditional practice, static thinking, conventional wisdom, or common performance.

Darn these clichés but if we don’t think outside the box we’ll never improve. And if we don’t improve we become boring and irrelevant. It can be difficult to see outside ourselves but how about trying this approach: No matter how small, for work or pleasure, do one task different every day or take a different approach to an activity. For example: take a different route home; say hello or offer a compliment to everyone you see (yes, even the office/neighborhood grump); volunteer to take on that task everyone else (or you) has been avoiding. The Bottom Line: When we step away from our usual activities, and do it often enough, we ‘reprogram the tapes’ in our head. This break in the norm exposes us to new opportunities we otherwise would have missed. And that in turn creates a more interesting and fulfilling life.

You cannot attain what you do not pursue

This is deceivingly simple but alas, easily forgotten. Lao Tzu said: “If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.” Sure, it’s a gloomy thought, but it’s a great motivator. The Bottom Line: Remind yourself that unless you make an effort, you will be doing the same thing you are doing right now five years from now. Tape the quote to your mirror or the back of your front door and begin each day with the idea that at least one task or interaction will be a reflection of where you are headed in the weeks, months and years to come. Or said another way (channeling former Washington Redskins coach George Allen): The future is now!

The best leaders pursue being better leaders  

For me personally, writing is practically defined by the constant need (or is it obsession?) to improve. I rarely write something I am entirely happy with. Whether it’s live, online or in print, I read it and think to myself, what was I thinking? It sounded great when I wrote it. Why didn’t I use this word or that phrase? Maybe I should have tightened that sentence or eliminated it altogether. The Bottom Line: We’re no different than sharks, but instead of dying if we stop moving, we will fail or remain run-of-the-mill in our own leadership roles if we don’t consistently look for ways to improve.

The Bottom, Bottom Line?

If you want to be a leader, regardless of the situation, remember this old chestnut: A journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step. So, what are you waiting for?

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Career, Company, HR, Information, Leadership, skills