"But, I'm not a leader." When someone makes that statement, I always add "YET!" There is a problem with that statement. The person making that statement assumes leadership is about a title. If you have said or thought this, it is time to stop and reassess your beliefs.
Editor’s note: This is the twelfth in a series of 12 blogs written directly to the Twenty-Somethings. This is about you and your future. As you read these blogs, please share them with other people who want ideas on how to lead now and how to develop the Twenty-Something Leaders of our future.
Renowned author and leadership guru, John Maxwell defines leadership as influence. It's that simple.
If he is right then you are a leader whether you have a title or not. Everyone has influence. Your words and your actions have influence on other people whether you work in a comfortable executive office, or you do manual labor on a loading dock.
What does this mean for the people who are in the early part of their careers? It means you have the opportunity to lead people every day because everyday you have influence on somebody.
The question is "Am I a good influence or a bad influence?"
Positive or Negative. What is your influence?
When you speak to your peers after a team meeting, where do you lead them?
When you meet a stranger at the grocery store, where do you lead them?
When you talk to a parent or sibling, where do you lead them?
When you speak to a spouse or a loved one, where do you lead them?
Each situation is an opportunity to be a leader, and none of these take a title to accomplish.
How You Lead With Character and without a Title
As we have discussed in this Leading in Your Twenties Series, a leader without character, may wield influence and get people to comply with his wishes. But a Leader of Character has committed followers.
As a Leader of Character you have developed and continue to develop your character through exercise. You have exercised character before you have a leadership title so that your character is ready for the tests of leadership. The Habits of Character you must exercise are:
How you lead without a title, influences how you lead once you get that title. The best way to prepare for that title is to begin exercising character now.
The Good News
Somebody reading this is probably thinking, "Sure Dave. But you don't know the person I have been, or how I have behaved." You may have read the other blogs about the Six Habits of Character and felt discouraged by your own actions. That's okay! Because I have good news!
You can begin a new habit today.
If you have been in the habit of staying quiet in difficult situations or lying to avoid discomfort, you can make a new choice today!
If you have been in the habit of bragging about yourself or refusing to listen to the opinions of others, you can make a new choice today!
If you are in the habit of making excuses or complaining about every decision your leader makes, you can make a new choice today!
That is how all habits are formed, one choice at a time. Each time you choose to exercise Courage, Humility, Integrity, Selflessness, Duty, or Positivity, it makes it easier to make that same choice again.
The more you choose to exercise a particular aspect of your character, the stronger that aspect becomes. So if you have been exercising the negative aspects of your character - start making new choices today!
Being a Leader of Character does not take an MBA or a PhD. Our culture does not need more leaders with MBA's or doctorates. What our culture needs is more Leaders of Character!
It doesn't take a title to lead. You have influence. The difference between a person of positive influence and negative influence is character. What type of character have you been building through your choices?
Test your character with this free and private assessment:
The goal of this series has been to speak to the up and coming leaders who will be taking over soon. If you are in your twenties, this is directed at you.
You have to prepare yourself to lead! It's up to you!
The other goal has been to wake up the people my age who grumble about these up and coming leaders and wonder if they are ready. If you are in that group, this is directed at you.
Quit complaining and get to work helping them get ready! It's up to you!
We promise to do our part. We are at work on a new book. But, we need help. We need insights from people in their 20s to give us your perspective. We need help to put together something that will change things for future generations in their 20s.
We want to provide resources that will fill the void Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, and Millenials have all endured. Will you help us?
If you are interested in helping, please email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
What do we need to address in this future book that is focused on leading in your twenties?
What is one thing you are going to work on so you become a Leader of Character?
Here is a quick assessment that will take you 5 minutes to figure it out. Nobody will ever see your results but you.
Warning: If you are not going to be honest with yourself this is a worthless assessment.
To take the assessment use the QR code above or go to www.MYCHARACTERTEST.com