“I’m looking to grow my career. What advice can you give me to help me get to where you are?” If you have been leading people for any modest period of time, then you have had someone ask you this question. I have made it a point over the last few years to get involved in speaking to college students and new leaders, and this is probably the number one question I am asked.
I recently asked a dozen Executives what advice they would give new or developing leaders and all of them said that either a vision of success or your attitude will dictate your results. At first I was kind of surprised that they were fairly consistent across the board, but at the same time, I absolutely agree.
As a new leader you are generally focused more on what you have to do each day or week, versus what your long term vision of success looks like. You may tell yourself that you want to move to the next level, but you don’t hold on to the vision that you want to be a General Manager or a VP of Marketing. Instead you adjust your vision with each step. In many cases you wind up doing a number of jobs that don’t get you any closer to where you want to be, and most of the time you are miserable doing them. Taking the time to create a vision of success will help you to define where you want to go, while needing then to only determine how to get there. At that point, engaging a mentor, coach, or strong influence in your field would give you the wisdom you need to achieve your vision.
Your attitude will dictate your results. I love this piece of advice. Leaders that are able to maintain a positive mental attitude will see that reflected in their teams, and results. Leaders that always focus on problems and what is wrong, will always find something wrong. Growth comes from the belief that you have not reached your capacity, and that opportunity is simply waiting for you to realize it. Unfortunately I frequently see leaders that develop what I call a “martyr syndrome”. If they work late, you know it. If they do anything outside of the “scope of their duties” you know. Their negative attitudes simply don’t allow them to see the opportunities around them. The great thing about attitude is that you are in 100% control of it. No one but you dictates your attitude.
I have given these two pieces of advice to many new leaders myself. The other piece of advice that I have recently given college students and new leaders alike, is to create a system of learning for yourself. Regardless of how great your organizations training programs are, they aren’t tailored to you, and generally only include a scope that benefits them. Find time to read, listen to podcasts, or consult your mentor regularly to start and grow your base of knowledge. I frequently will listen to Audible books on my drive in to work, and then use my first few minutes at my desk to take a few notes and reflect on what I have heard. I also find a great deal of value in things like the Harvard Business Review, Blinkist, and the Read to Lead podcast. There are hundreds of variables, and you can choose whatever resonates with you. Don’t expect others to grow for you, seek the wisdom of others and apply it to your life.
I am sure that everyone has given, or received a piece of advice that was a catalyst for growth in your life or the lives of others. I would love to hear your answer to the question:
What advice would you give a new or developing leader?