I was asked this question on Quora:
I have never been in leadership but I want to be a leader. How can I achieve this target?
Though straight-forward, your question has some depth of thinking…
Two things to start:
- Be a leader where you are. Demonstrate leadership, empathy, support, advocacy for others, etc. wherever you are. Leadership, in its true form, doesn’t need a business card.
- Make sure your boss, and others in the food chain, are aware you would like to advance and at some time move into leadership. It’s important for them to know—the floors are littered with employees who were expecting someone to just “recognize their potential” and promote them extemporaneously. It happens, but don’t live your life expecting it. Take action and let someone know.
Now, to be promoted, I tell people to be mindful of the Three P’s for promotion… for you to be promoted:
- Performance. Yours must be top-notch. Maybe not the best, but certainly well above satisfactory. You’ve got to demonstrate discretionary effort, above just doing your job.
- Potential. You’ll need to demonstrate that you can do more. By doing more, by asking to do more, by accepting almost anything that comes your way, by requesting and embracing any learning opportunity, etc.
- Position. You can knock #1 and #2 out of the park, but there still must be a position to promote to, or you cannot move. This is where your patience will be tested, and you simply must rise to the challenge. If someone is promoted “over” you, your performance, attitude, etc. cannot falter. Even if you were unjustly skipped. Keep the performance top-notch, and your behaviors positive.