Don’t be afraid to take charge: 5 Steps for preparing to lead

Movies can move the human spirit.  Scenes such as the speech in Miracle where Kirt Russell plays Coach Brooks addressing his 1980 Olympic Hockey team before the game of their lives move and inspire.  Who can forget Al Pacino inspiring his football team to fight and claw toward victory? And of course, Mel Gibson as William Wallace inspiring an outnumbered army to fight for freedom.    These scenes, and many more like them have a common thread.  These speeches were given by men who faced whatever fear they had and took charge.  Most of us won’t be leading Scottland toward war and freedom.  We do, however, lead our companies, our teams, and our homes toward success…or failure.

Last July I was summons to Jury Duty. Click here to read the leadership lessons I learned from this experience.  I was selected and voted unanimously as the foreperson. It was hardly an electoral victory, as no one else wanted to do it. Why is it that when real life kicks in, so many people take a step back rather than a step forward?
Leader Of The Pack

Leader Of The Pack (Photo credit: Property#1)

It is a lack of knowledge and preparation  holding many would-be leaders from emerging.

Whether you plan on overtly leading a team (such as being a CEO or manager) or leading from within (a peer leader or project leader), you must prepare yourself.  Here is list of five things to consider as you begin to prepare:
1.  Be The Industry Expert.  What is happening in and around your company, companion companies and competitors.  This is so important.  If you aren’t in tune with what matters most to your company, market, and industry, how can you add value?
2.  Stay up to date on what’s happening in the world.  Last year’s horrific Boston Marathon bombing was all that anyone talked about for well over a week.  ObammaCare, Fiscal Cliff, or Dancing with the Stars.  Whatever is big to your customers and to those you lead is an opportunity to connect.  Don’t forget to be sincere.  No need to binge on 50 episodes of Breaking Bad before your next meeting, but find common ground and stay in tune.  Also, world events are very real, and impact many people beyond just the work place.
3.  Read diverse material.  I have met many people who are shocked that I read 30-40 books per year.  Many people tell me they don’t like to read or they don’t have the time.  That is ridiculous.  Audible has a 15$/month membership where you get one book per month, and the library is free (minus my mounting late fees).  Listen while you drive or excersise.  Don’t just read, read diverse topics.  I read about sports, business, faith, biographies, and many other topics.  Not only are you smarter, you are more interesting as you read more.
4.  Network.  This is another “no kidding” mention.  It’s imperative that you reach out to colloegues in and around your industry.  All to often we are locked in our little silo.  Some perspective of the outside world keeps reality a lot closer.
5.  Practice.  Whether you are in sales pitching products all day long, management, observing these pitches, or executive leadership developing strategy, you must be intentional in finding time to practice in a safe environment.  My organization usually takes us out of the field 3 or 4 times per year to practice our messaging and strategy.  Make sure you are doing this.
Leadership is not easy, but its necessary for success.  Whether you are a bona fide “titled” leader or someone who leads through action on a project basis, fear not.  You are on a quest for to find your awesomeness.  Be intentional in all of these areas and you will grow in you leadership and your success.
Challenge:  Go to your local library and get a free library card and check out 2 books and start reading.

About Rocco De Leo

I am Rocco DeLeo. For years, I felt like I had so much more to offer the world than simply going to work and coming home. While I've always found my work to be engaging and rewarding, I knew I had much more to offer. Over the last few years, I've started focusing on personal development, my relationship with God, and what to do next. I write and podcast (And Dad Makes 7 Podcast) at about this journey. Mostly, I enjoy sharing the struggle, but sometimes I find some wisdom to share. My wife Jamie and I are raising a blended family with 5 children. Thankfully she stays home. When I'm not creating, I'm usually running trails, fishing with my kids, or enjoying a cigar in my backyard.

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