There are plenty of resources designed to help you lead in your organization. Googling “how to be a leader” yields 83,400,000 results, including everything from spendy online seminars to step-by-step guides by self-proclaimed leadership experts. While leadership certainly requires a fair amount of strategy, becoming a leader isn’t a one-and-done type of endeavor—you can’t simply flip a switch to change the culture in your company. Like all forms of growth, developing into a leader requires educating, training, and refining—all of which happen over time.
To bridge the gap between merely managing your team and leading it well will take time and effort, and it may mean disrupting the status quo in your company. But if you can focus on the big picture and long-term benefits of building new framework for leading your team toward success, you will make great strides toward reaching your potential and becoming an invaluable member of your organization. Think of cultivating leadership as an investment: you probably won’t receive instant gratification. Instead, over time, you will see return.
Cultivating a culture of leadership in your organization starts with mindfulness. Anyone can act like a leader, but becoming a leader happens from the inside out. When you develop a clearer understanding of what a leader actually is, your actions will change, and by extension, so will the culture of your workplace. Here are a few game-changing—er, culture-changing—insights to help you build a new framework on leadership, accompanied by practical steps you can take to become an effective leader in your organization.
Marketing thought-leader Seth Godin says being a leader boils down to your core values. Bosses tend to want to assert their authority, and they push to get their employees to be more efficient and productive for the least amount of investment possible. Leaders, on the other hand, take responsibility; they empower their team with the tools needed to accomplish a vision.
While managers tend to focus on operations, projects, and tasks, leaders engage their teams on a deeper level, according to The Wall Street Journal Guide to Management. This means that while bosses tend to focus on the end goal, true leaders know how to zone in on the process, motivating and inspiring their employees each step of the way.
Leaders must be willing to shake things up for the sake of continued growth—especially since the average lifespan of a company has decreased to just 15 years. “Leaders must be continuously ready to challenge everything that they’ve held dear,” writes Faisal Hoque in Fast Company.
Leaders don’t wait for something to happen to respond; they are visionaries that keep their eyes on the horizon.
Leaders don’t wait for something to happen to respond; they are visionaries who keep their eyes on the horizon. “If you are a strong leader, you will anticipate changes and prepare in advance, steering your team to safety and ever-increasing profits,” says Bubba Page in Inc.
In his 1989 book On Becoming a Leader, Warren Bennis lists a number of qualities that differentiate managers from leaders, one being, “The manager is the classic good soldier; the leader is his or her own person.” To truly lead your team, focus on authenticity, even if that means you may have to break the mold of expectations on your role.
While culture typically provides quick fixes for issues, leaders are in it for the long haul, which is a good thing. Homing in on the slow-but-rewarding work of developing a new mindset around leadership could have drastic payoff in your organization. By shifting the focus from immediate results to internal growth, you are making a long-term investment in your team and your organization as a whole.
If you want to learn more about cultivating a people-focus and the importance of partnering with your team to meet goals, check out “Two Minds Are Better Than One: Collaboration in Marketing.”