Kendra paid the price to learn her profession. After eight years in medical school followed by residency she board certified in the practice of medicine. Her patients love her. But it’s not because of her qualifications.
Tom paid a similar price to learn his profession. Six years of undergraduate and graduate studies preceded a year of intense study to pass the bar exam. Now he serves part of the judicial system with his practice of law. But it’s not his practice that makes a difference in the lives of his clients.
Your practice of…
Influencing others makes you a leader.
Leadership is the ability to lead, guide, direct, or influence people. You practice leadership everyday, wherever you go. That’s the bottom line for me. It’s not limited to position. It’s about relationships.
Extraordinary success requires a cohesive team. Top performing teams get results because they pay attention to technical savvy AND the relational part … leaders get the work done with and through others.
Your technical skills allow you to work as a doctor, attorney, CPA, educator, CEO, sales professional, manager, individual contributor. Whether your work is defined as white collar, blue collar, or no collar, whether you are an employee or an entrepreneur you have a leadership practice. The business of business (life) is people.
How’s your leadership practice?
To practice means you keep doing something over and over until you become better at it. This includes practicing your leadership skills.
Here’s the challenge, you’ve practiced certain behaviors for a long time. Some of your behavior habits are unproductive with people. Think about controlling, telling, micro-managing, poor listening, manipulating, failing to set expectations, lack of approachability, body language, etc. These behaviors hinder your influence and will limit your success and that of your team if not changed.
It takes practice to be a successful leader.
When a physician or other professional “demonstrates a mastery of basic knowledge and skills through written, practical, or simulator-based testing” they become board certified.
What would happen if we had board certification for leaders? She’s a board certified CEO, Vice President or Director. He’s a board certified sales manager, supervisor, middle-manager. He’s a board certified small business owner.
What leadership knowledge and skills would be required?
Communication? Delegation? Self-awareness? Self-control? Listening? Critical thinking? Common sense? Decision making? Compassion? Character? Yes, it’s mastering more than the technical skills. Certification would include “soft skills” and integrity, approachability, trust, and authenticity, too.
Of course you have to pay appropriate attention to the technical in order to stay in business or to do great work. But next level success is built when you effectively connect with your team.
Create Space for Reflection
Kendra and Tom are doing well in their practice of medicine and law. Both are practicing leadership skills. Like you, they’ve got old habits and unproductive behavior that limit their influence and success. Kendra is working on anger issues. Tom is learning how to communicate using open ended questions to end his control-freak tendencies.
If you want your practice of leadership to be even more successful you need to sharpen your people skills. Practice means creating space for reflection, dedicating time to improve. How much time are you planning to dedicate to improving your leadership practice?
Here’s to expanding your positive influence with others,
Image: Camron Flanders