A lot of people believe leadership comes from position in an organization. Because so many believe it, position does matter, but only to a certain point.
I believe true leadership comes from a state-of-mind that looks for innovative solutions to problems, combined with credibility that is earned through competence, integrity, vision, decisiveness, and the ability to communicate effectively.
While a lot of things must come together to create the magic of “earned” leadership, two of the most important are initiative and clarity. Consider these two quotes:
Initiative is a great differentiator between a leader and a follower. Keep a log of new things that you initiate. Log initiative that you see taken by others in your network. Pale ink will open your eyes and help you see how rare initiative is, and highlight the opportunity you have to lead.
— Bob Sakalas
Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate and doubt to offer a solution everybody can understand.
— Colin Powell
Do you want to lead and grow as a leader?
Don’t wait until someone “appoints you” as a leader. Start today by taking some initiative and communicate your vision clearly and concisely. Then, evaluate your effectiveness. Does your initiative cause change? Keep a log and study what happens. Everything takes practice yet so few actually practice, especially in the workplace. Writing it down will keep you honest with yourself, keep your momentum, and help you learn and improve.