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In his inspirational poem, What Will Matter, Michael Josephson makes a compelling argument that it’s “not your success but your significance… not your competence but your character” that will eventually define you and establish you as a leader. Visionaries change things for the better, from the position they are in at the moment, while looking daily for opportunities to extend their reach.

If you want to become a leader, focusing on your present role is your first step to achieving this goal and living up to your full potential. Delivering results today will instill confidence in your skill and integrity for an ambitious future. Your competence will develop your character and your ability to deliver results will ground you as a trustworthy and significant part of your organization’s team.

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Having a clear understanding of the vision, strategies, goals and culture of the organization as well as the industry that you’re in will keep you focused on working within that context. In her book, Designed for Success, leadership development expert Dondi Scumaci says, “Check for alignment between what you are doing and what matters most to the organization. The more aligned you are with the goals and priorities of the organization, the more valuable and relevant you become.”

Scumaci notes that the first person you must learn to lead is yourself. “Personal leadership and mastery speak to work ethic, integrity, consistency, initiative and discipline. It’s doing the right thing even when no one is looking. Strike that. It is doing the right thing, the effective thing, especially when no one is looking!”

You will need to execute on your boss’s priorities and help them to succeed as well. It’s always helpful to have a clear understanding of your boss’s working style, communication preferences, and even their weaknesses. Communicating with your boss on a regular basis for alignment between what you are doing and their expectations will curtail dysfunctionality and demonstrate your loyalty. Identity and volunteer for a “white space” project with measurable results that would require new thinking, testing and learning.

Let your “let me take that on” attitude extend beyond your relationship with your boss and raise your hand for new initiatives, especially ones that might be visible to those outside your circle of concern. It might be something as simple as facilitating a meeting or offering to find a solution to a conflict between peers. There are also opportunities outside of work, such as sitting on the board of a local nonprofit or assisting with the organizing of a community event, that send the signal that you aspire to community leadership potential.

Leaders draw on moral qualities to influence their interpersonal communications with co-workers and demonstrate their significance and character. They work effectively with others to achieve common goals. They create value by utilizing their strengths to deliver results in the most professional manner. Through effective communication, project execution and time management, persons in any role can be inspirational and persuasive. Involving others to build momentum around your ideas and recognizing your team’s accomplishments creates synergy and instills a sense that all are shareholders in the organization’s success.

There are several ways to lead from your current position and raise your organization’s standard.

  • Separate yourself from people who are unhappy or mediocre and cultivate an optimistic attitude.
  • Be an example to all and deliver your highest quality work.
  • Demonstrate loyalty to the organization
  • Volunteer for new projects.
  • Look and behave professionally.
  • Maintain a solutions-oriented attitude.
  • Invest in team accomplishments.

These simple tips will help you to become a leader among men and help you to achieve your full potential in this world. But in the end remember, it’s “not your success but your significance… not your competence but your character” that matters.

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