How to Lead from Where You Are

You don’t need a title to prepare for leadership.

How to Lead from Where You Are

Don’t wait for someone else to give you leadership experience; it may never happen. You can be a leader even if you’re not the boss. Cultivate these leadership qualities so you’re ready to take charge when the time comes. 

The greatest danger of not being in charge and waiting around until you are is that you never learn to risk or fail and how to handle that experience.

Clay Scroggins

1. Understand Your “Whys” 

Effective leaders do the work of understanding their own motivations and goals. Take time to figure out your strengths and in what areas you might be able to make contributions with the greatest impact.

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Find Your Why

Simon Sinek’s common sense bestseller shows you why and how to discover your “why” and “how” – and why it matters.

Simon Sinek, David Mead and Peter Docker Portfolio
Read Summary

Some people are good at analyzing data, others are “people” people, still others are expert in their own domain. Understanding your own goals will help you recognize or develop opportunities that align with them and keep you motivated. Think about ways to shape your job into one you love through “job-crafting.”

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Own Your Career Own Your Life

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Get It Done

Michael Mackintosh helps you kick your productivity into action and become all you can be.

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The Path

Using Christianity to create a better mission statement for your outer company and your inner self.

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2. Adopt a “Growth” Mind-Set

A “fixed” mind-set – that you are as intelligent or as skilled as you’ll ever be – undermines possibility thinking. People with a “growth” mind-set welcome challenges. 

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Mindset

People can be of two minds: fixed and flexible. In a changing world, flexible is better for relationships and growth.

Carol S. Dweck Random House
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For people with a “growth” mind-set, there is always the possibility of learning and growing. People whose idea of themselves is “fixed” take every failure personally, while those with a “growth” mind-set view setbacks as a learning experience. Once you have an idea of your goals, start learning the competencies you’ll need to attain them. 

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Future Fit

Reskill, retrain and reinvent yourself to remain competitive, marketable and ultimately, Future Fit.

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Informal Learning

Once you accept that people learn better outside the classroom, how should you invest your training funds?

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The Pilot – Learning Leadership

Prepare, practice and perform like a pilot. When the pressure is on, soar.

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3. Keep Your Eyes and Ears Open for What You Can Improve 

Understand your company’s goals and how your team and your job fits into the larger picture. Understand the resources and authority that are at your disposal and use them to build influence and solve problems. 

Image of: How to Lead When You’re Not in Charge
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How to Lead When You’re Not in Charge

If people like working with you, they will enjoy working for you.

Clay Scroggins Zondervan
Read Summary

Look for underserved areas in your company’s offerings. Ask questions of colleagues to learn more. You demonstrate your willingness to learn by listening.

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Just Listen

The Rolling Stones sang, “You can’t always get what you want.” But, you can get what you need if you use these tactics.

Mark Goulston AMACOM
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It’s important to have a good attitude, but solid suggestions on how to improve products or services are even more valuable. 

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Business Beyond the Box

Gradual change is for wimps.

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The Self-Tuning Enterprise

Can functioning as a “self-tuning enterprise” help your organization keep up in an ever-changing marketplace?

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Design a Better Business

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4. Do Your Research

Understand a problem from the perspective of all stakeholders. Identify the goals of your research and list your resources. Design an approach for collecting data.

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Business to Business Marketing Research

Competition got you down? Research can solve b-to-b marketing problems – which differ from those of consumer businesses.

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Draw a stakeholder map so you know who to direct questions to in order to get the benefit of their insight and expertise. Your team members and colleagues are the greatest resource you have access to. Be sure to take advantage of their wisdom and feedback. 

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There Are Basically No Starbucks on This Continent. Here’s What Went Wrong.

Starbucks entered the Australian market with heady arrogance – and flopped.

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The ability to deal with negative feedback effectively can be one of the most beneficial business and life skills you ever develop.

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The Stakeholder Strategy

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Qual-Online: The Essential Guide

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5. Make a Plan 

Discuss your proposal informally with your boss and colleagues. Listen respectfully to their input and incorporate good ideas. You’ll grow support for your idea and expand your network along the way.

Your beliefs about your ability to learn are where it all starts. They influence your motivation, your level of effort, your desire to persist and your openness to feedback.

James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner

Create a proposal that outlines the problem and your proposed solution. Emphasize the value of your proposal, but also include the nuts and bolts of what needs to happen for implementation. 

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Life Is a Series of Presentations

The secrets of great presentations include: know the audience, prepare well, stay calm, be persuasive and read this book.

Tony Jeary, Kim Dower and J.E. Fishman Fireside
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Presenters should consider how they want their audience to respond to their presentation. Do they want them to act in a particular way or change how they think?

Jay Surti
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Jay Surti provides a thoughtful, well-structured primer on how to refine your presentations.

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6. Balance Practicality and Vision and Have a Bias for Action 

Lead by example. Be willing to speak up when you have an idea or potential solution to a problem.

Leading up isn’t about rebellion or usurpation; it is about stepping into the breach when there is no one else to do it and about listening to such leadership when it emerges.

Michael Useem
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Leading Up

Brave subordinates can make their organizations better by challenging their leaders.

Michael Useem Crown Publishing Group
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Think about leaders you admire and their characteristics, and strive to model their behavior in your own life.

Leadership is a choice you make, not a place you sit.

John C. Maxwell
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The 360° Leader

Leaders can come from any desk in the company, including yours, if you can manage up, down and across, all 360 degrees.

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You never know when your company may ask you to step up into leadership, so prepare yourself. 

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The Accidental Leader

Say your boss drops dead (he should live and be well), are you ready to run the place? (Your mother would be so proud.)

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To execute plans, make sure they are clear, achievable and measurable, with short-term milestone goals.

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Execution Plain and Simple

Create concrete goals, design practical strategies and heighten company performance with a basic 12-step execution plan.

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The objective is not to have perfect plans, but to have effective action taken by real people dealing with real problems day by day.

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How to execute planning, operations and growth. The secret: Get things done one step at a time.

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The battle is raging out there. Apply some classic military tactics to your business to become a winner.

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7. Be a Team Player

Be willing to take personal responsibility for your work and also for any team efforts you lead. By the same token, be sure to highlight the contribution of others: Don’t hog credit. Don’t ask other people to do something you’re not willing to do yourself.

Most, if not all, of the great works of our species have been team efforts.

Adam Steltzner and William Patrick 

While you cultivate the practical skills required of leadership, keep in mind the traits every great leader has in common: courage, a sense of honor and loyalty.

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The Samurai Leader

Why twenty-first century managers need seventeenth-century Samurai ethics and discipline.

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Get some project management tips or brush up on your social skills:

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