People become leaders for all manner of reasons, and an inspiring figure is often one of them. In many cases, a mentor that shows us what leadership should be is behind our ultimate quest here. Or, it may be that you’re inspired by leaders on-screen. Either way, other people are excellent at putting the fire we need in our bellies to see this thing through.
Sometimes, though, a lack of inspiration can stall leadership quests altogether. If you’ve only ever witnessed deplorable management and poor leadership depictions, then why would you want to become part of the problem? Or, as is often the case in situations like these, why wouldn’t you?
Inspiration and role models may be helpful on the leadership path, but a lack of inspiration itself could also push you forward. After all, while some people see lousy management and shy away from it, others want to be the change they need in the workplace. And, leadership roles are often the best ways to do it.
The trouble is that, when a lack of inspiration is driving you, you may struggle to know how exactly to take your first steps forward. That’s why we’re going to look at what you can do when a need for change is the only thing driving you forward.
Learn the rules…
…so you can break them. Seriously. Anyone who’s had bad experiences with leaders will be tempted to carve their own leadership path, and rightly so. But, you can’t break rules to suit new standards until you know what they are in the first place! As with writing a book, you can only successfully challenge grammar norms once you know them inside out!
The first step on your leadership journey should, therefore, be to get clued up. Embarking on a management degree like those offered by the University of Alabama Birmingham is perhaps the most extensive way to do this if you want to delve deep into the subject, but evening management courses can also suffice. As well as providing you with the skills and certifications that you need to secure a leadership role in the first place, these efforts will help you know what’s what and what isn’t a good fit for you.
Use your experiences
You might not have a management mentor behind you every step of the way, but you do have something equally useful for pushing your leadership efforts forward; your experiences. Remember that, ultimately, your poor experiences with managers in the past have pushed you to this point. Use that. Think about why those leaders let you down, and how you can offer something different to your employees. This will help you develop the intuition and general skillset that you need to progress.
While there will come a time when dwelling in your career past prevents you from progressing, your early leadership days should center around those memories. Write up notes, brainstorms, and leadership plans based on them. Then, put your annoyance in a drawer and head out there to make some real changes.
Let your team guide you
Don’t make the mistake, either, of thinking that you’re in this thing alone. You may be in charge of your team, but trust us when we say that they still have significant power to guide you. The chances are that you know all too well what happens when a manager fails to listen to their team, so don’t let it happen.
By listening to regular team feedback, both about your business as it stands and your leadership methods, you should be able to develop a style that’s different from any leadership you’ve seen portrayed elsewhere. Of course, you still need to find a balance of respect here, so giving your team every last say probably isn’t the best idea. But, that doesn’t mean you should ever discard their opinions.
Remember that respect is a two-way street. If you don’t respect them enough to take what they’re saying on board, then you won’t be any different to the leadership anti-heroes that you’re attempting to break free from.
A final word on paving your own leadership path
There’s no denying that the leadership journey can be harder without a role model driving the way, but it’s by no means impossible. Many of the world’s most successful leaders have got where they are from disillusionment with what they see around them. Become one of the best by using what you disliked about the leaders in your life to create something better!