By Ron Price
I am in my fifth decade of working on what it means to be a leader. When I amalgamate my personal leadership experiences and those I’ve been honored to witness or even guide, I have realized that leadership isn’t relegated to the workplace. Leadership is any situation that gives to you the opportunity to lead.
Over the years I’ve made a fundamental change in my thinking. I’ve recognized that leadership comes from the inside out. The core of who you are as a leader is the result of the personal journey you take, which from time to time is reflected in the responsibilities you are given.
If you want to optimize your potential as a leader, you need to understand what your own personal journey looks like. It’s more about the person you want to become versus the position you want to hold. You will find greater reward in developing yourself as a person than you will in any one particular job.
It begins with examining your own personal identity. You need to consider the leadership style, skills, behavioral traits and values you want to be known for—and then begin to cultivate them.
We are all born with certain traits that we don’t choose. Each child has different genetic makeup. Our personalities are then shaped by our experiences, and the lessons we learn from our parents about who we are and what we should aspire to. No two people go through these things the same way. The second part of personality is what we decide we want to learn in life, what we want to master. We are all unique in expertise and interest.
The first portion is something we didn’t choose; it was given to us. The second is what we select. Sometimes we can fall into it by accident, in a way that is serendipitous. Sometimes we generate a conscious plan of what we want to create in our lives by going to school for a certain profession and seeking out specific opportunities.
There are many ways to cultivate leadership skills in everyday life. You can utilize opportunities such as the volunteer work you do, boards and groups you are involved with, or even the way you parent. Most people don’t think as intentionally as they could to develop these opportunities.
I certainly didn’t do that in my own career. Like many, I worked hard and took the opportunities that came along. Most of the opportunities given to me were roles that I could do well, so I spent many years doing work I was good at, but somehow I felt like I was falling short of my potential. You’ve probably heard it said, “Good is often the enemy of best.” If I could have worked in areas where I was having the greatest impact, I would have done things differently.
It wasn’t until I started thinking about the kind of leader I could become that I started to consider which opportunities I should say yes and say no to. And I started to become more strategic about where I could best spend my time to be the most effective. My mistake was trying to do too much in the organizations I led. I was good, but I wasn’t as great as I could have been if I had focused my energy on doing what I was best at.
This is the reason I wrote my latest book, Growing Influence—to stockpile the lessons I’ve learned and mistakes I’ve made as I developed as a leader from the inside out.
I’ve come to the conclusion that the clearer we are about who we are and who we want to become, the more apt we are to be recognized for our chosen abilities and to ultimately receive invitations to utilize them. In doing this, we can become the best versions of ourselves.
Growing Influence: A Story of How to Lead with Character, Expertise and Impact by Ron Price and Stacy Ennis is a business fable full of practical advice. It is due to be released September 2018, and can be preordered on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.