Regardless of how old you are, you can always step into the role of a leader. Doing so requires you to prepare for leadership.
Many people will overlook these steps and hop right into the role. Often ending in disaster, for the leader and, sometimes, for the organization they’re leading.
This is why it’s important young leaders prepare for the role of leadership. When you do, your leadership becomes magical.
Abraham Lincoln once famously said
Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.
Lincoln, a great president knew there was a correlation between preparation and success. And he was willing to go to great lengths to prepare.
So, as a leader or emerging leader, why wouldn’t you want to prepare for your role as a leader.
That’s why I believe every leader should go through a period of preparation. Doing so ensures a leader knows the roles and responsibilities he’s stepping into.
But what happens when there’s nothing in place? Can a leader still prepare for leadership without guidance from their organization?
I believe so. Here’s what I believe someone needs to do to prepare for leadership.
1. Develop people skills: If overall preparation for leadership is overlooked, developing people skills is probably the most overlooked skill in preparing for leadership.
As a leader, you’re going to be dealing with people every single day you show up to lead. There’s always going to be someone looking to you, needing to know what’s going on.
It’s your responsibility to know how to deal with people. And developing people skills will take you further as a leader than you could ever imagine.
2. Find a mentor: Young leaders may think they know it all but they’d be wrong in thinking so. You’ll never know everything there is to know about leadership.
This is why it’s critical you find a mentor to help show you the ropes.
Mentors can help you as you struggle in leadership. Mentors can help you understand the tough decisions laid out before you. Mentors can help you develop your leadership skills and abilities.
If you haven’t found a mentor, make it a point to find a mentor today.
3. Reflect on your past: Our pasts tell quite a story. Too often we let our past define us. However, we shouldn’t overlook reflecting on our pasts as we step into the role of leadership.
Look to your past to discover:
Where your best abilities lie
What causes you stress
How you deal with people
When you understand where you come from, you can start to see how all the pieces fit together. You can also see the traps you need to avoid as you become a leader.
4. Sign up for a course: The last way to prepare for leadership I want to touch on is leadership training.
There are thousands of leaders who have lead well only to pass the leadership baton as they step into their next role. This role often includes teaching others the basics of leadership.
Don’t be afraid to go back to school or join a class on leadership.
You can find great leadership training online at Udemy, Coursera, or edX. In addition, you can always check out your local universities and colleges to see if they offer and college leadership courses.
PS: Your local college classes are great for connecting with other leaders. Never discount the power of networking.
Question: What other ways would you recommend a young leader prepare for leadership? Please share your suggestions in the comment section below.