How to Establish Yourself as a Leadership Expert, Part 2

November 5, 2012

In my last post, I gave several reasons why you don’t have to wait until later to be a leadership expert. You can begin to be one right here, right now, no matter who you are. If you’ve bought that idea, then let me share several practical ways you use your leadership expertise to benefit others.

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Engage others in leadership conversations and listen well.

I recently shared the three leadership questions I always ask, no matter if I am talking to someone for the first time or to my best friend.  They actually don’t feel like “leadership” questions at all, but by the end of the conversation, I have a good understanding of the basic leadership situation they are dealing with. I know what’s working and what’s not working. Leadership isn’t always about sharing what you know with others. In fact, that’s never where you start. The better you become at encouraging others to talk about themselves, listening to them, and truly being able to understand their situation, it is simply uncanny how much you will grow as a leadership expert in their eyes.

Share what you’ve observed.

No matter how much or little “real world” experience you have, you’ve observed leadership in action. You’ve seen things that have worked well and you’ve seen things that haven’t worked at all. You’ve seen things that started out well but ended up poorly. Always pay attention to the leadership mindsets, decision-making, and execution that happens around you. Use those learning points to inform what you know about leadership, and then share them with others. Learning from the successes and failures of others is as free a leadership education as it gets. (Click to Tweet that).

Share the things you’ve learned through experience.

It’s hard to learn how to lead people if you never do it yourself. Therefore, your own experiences in leading others can be quickest and sharpest developmental points you get. It won’t take long before you have a list of what works well and what doesn’t work at all. Don’t keep this to yourself! Help others go further faster by sharing what you’ve learned through experience. And incidentally, don’t be afraid to share your mistakes – sometimes people relate to them much more than to your successes.

Share the ideas you’ve developed.

As a student of leadership, you’re probably on the lookout for ways to lead more effectively. At the beginning, all you have are untested theories. Keep it up and eventually you may discover the Higgs Boson of leadership. (Hey, it’s possible!) But regardless of where you are in your progress, don’t hesitate to share your ideas with others who could use them, whether it’s on a napkin at a restaurant or publishing a paper. Even scientists have to start with a hypothesis in order find the solutions they are looking for. So just like a scientist, make sure to get your own peer-reviews. Even if your ideas aren’t perfect, they are better than none, and often a great place to start.

Share what other experts are saying.

Don’t just develop your own ideas in isolation. Even the top leadership experts pull from what others have said about leadership. You can use the best of the incredible things you’ve found that others have said. Another perk is that you benefit from the association. On top of that, if people don’t like what you’ve shared, it’s not you they don’t agree with, it’s the expert!

Subtly self-promote around areas of competence.

Depending on your personality, you could be the most competent leadership expert available but still have a hard time tooting your own leadership horn. (Okay, I’ve never actually seen a leadership horn.) Reconciling humility and leadership can sometimes be difficult. Learn to subtly self-promote around your areas of competence. If you don’t, not only do you miss a huge opportunity to increase your influence, but more importantly, those around you could end up following second-best (or just plain terrible) leadership ideas instead of yours.

Serve.

I mentioned this in my last post as well, but it bears repeating. You are never too unqualified to set a good example, and that includes a good leadership example. Leadership is about putting others first and working toward the success of something bigger than yourself. We cannot earn the opportunity to influence others unless we are willing to serve them.

What other ways would you include to establish yourself as a leadership expert?

Nathan Magnuson is a leadership consultant, coach, trainer and thought leader.  Receive his ebook Trusted Leadership Advisor by subscribing to his website or   follow him on Twitter.