Leadership is rarely a position that you’re ready for when you walk into the role. Many times, young leaders are thrust into the role of leadership well before they’ve had time to prepare.
That’s a scary proposition. And many leaders bow out before their time is done.
Being in a position you’re not ready for can wear you down. It can break you. You will want to quit.
But that’s because you’re not prepared. It doesn’t mean you can’t become prepared.
Abraham Lincoln is often credited with saying:
Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.
Did good old Abe Lincoln really say this? I’m not sure.
What I am sure about is that the quote is still valid. And preparation is something we must do regularly.
But I’m Not Ready To Lead!?!
We’ve already established that many leaders aren’t ready when they take on the role of a leader. Their skill and work ethic have been recognized.
Yet these young leaders haven’t been prepared. They’re not ready to lead just yet.
So that raises the question, What is an unprepared leader to do? How does someone who’s not ready lead?
Before everything else, getting ready is the secret to success.
— Henry Ford
Well, you’re already far ahead of many people if you’ve realized you’re not ready. You know you’re missing skills that are crucial to becoming a great leader.
And that is good. We have to recognize what we’re missing if we want to lead well.
That means you’re ready. Ready to prepare…
Prepare To Lead
You’ve now recognized that you’re not up to the task. Or you lack the skills. Perfect. That’s the mindset of a leader who’s ready to learn, and prepare.
To get ready to lead, even after you’ve been selected as a leader, you will need to sharpen YOUR saw.
Sharpening your saw looks like:
Obtaining a mentor:
Find someone who’s led before. They’ve faced similar circumstances and situations. They know the dangers of leadership.
Ask them to take you under their wing. Or seek out their writings.
Do anything you can to learn more about their style of leadership and how you can apply it to yours.
Testing the waters:
You’ve never led before. So you don’t know what to do.
The best way to prepare to lead in greater capacities is to lead in smaller arenas.
Volunteer to be on non-profit board. Speak up in meetings and other venues.
Testing the waters in non-critical areas can be just the perfect way to get yourself ready.
Studying previous leaders:
It was mentioned in the first step of preparation to find a mentor. This last suggestion goes more broad than the first.
Not only should you have a mentor, you need to find people who have shared their life’s work via great ledaership books, spoke at leadership conferneces. been guests on podcasts, and other ways they’ve shared their stories.
There’s a wealth of information out there for your taking. And you don’t even have to talk to anyone.
You can sit in the comfort of your home and read a leadership book. You can put on your headphones and listen to the words spoken by great leaders. Or you can watch video replays from leadership conferences.
There’s so many ways you can study past leadership. And it continues to sharpen your saw.
These are but a few ways you can prepare yourself to lead. There’s no set rules.
You just have to be open to learning and growing.
Question: How do you prepare to lead? Share your tips in the comment section below.