In my last post, I shared several reasons why you don’t have to wait until later to be a leadership expert. You can begin 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.
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. Leadership isn’t always about sharing what you know with others. In fact, that’s never the right place to start. The better you become at encouraging others to talk about themselves, listening to them and truly understanding their situation, it is uncanny how much you will grow as a leadership expert in their eyes.
Share what you’ve observed
No matter how much or how 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 process 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. For better or worse, you are always the expert on your own experience. 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 your progress, don’t keep from sharing your ideas with others who could use them, whether it’s on a napkin at a restaurant or publishing a white paper. Even scientists have to start with a hypothesis in order find the solutions they are looking for. (You’ll need to get your own peer-reviews just like they do!) 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 shared. Another perk is that you benefit from the association. On top of that, if people don’t like what you’ve passed along, they aren’t disagreeing with you but with the person you referenced!
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. (Disclaimer: I’m not sure these instruments actually exist.) Reconciling humility and leadership can be difficult for some of us. Learn to subtly self-promote around your areas of competence. If you don’t, not only will you miss a huge opportunity to share your influence, more importantly, those around you could end up following second-rate (or just plain terrible) leadership ideas instead of yours.
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 setting a good leadership example. Leadership is about putting others first and working toward the success of something bigger than yourself. There is no better way to earn the opportunity to influence others than to be 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.