You’ve identified yourself as a leader. Take the next step, and become an extraordinary leader.
Bear with me, and ignore that little voice saying “you can’t.” Hear me out. This is about how you frame your contribution as a leader in the moment, and looking forward. Forget the successes and especially the failings of the past.
John Quincy Adams wrote, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” An extraordinary leader does these same things to the next higher level. It might be about influencing more people, or resolving a more complex situation. It might be a single moment of powerful courage in a pivotal event.
The key to the path to the extraordinary is to trust yourself to answer this question:
“What would an extraordinary leader do?”
Don’t answer in a general way. Ask and answer in specific context:
- What question would an extraordinary leader ask in this meeting?
- How would an extraordinary leader prepare this presentation?
- How would an extraordinary leader manage this ticklish personnel situation?
- Would an extraordinary leader hire this person? If so, how would an extraordinary leader help them get started in the role?
- How would an extraordinary leader define this problem in a way it could be solved?
- Would an extraordinary leader see an opportunity here?
- What two things would an extraordinary leader pay attention to today?
- What would an extraordinary leader stop doing?
- How would an extraordinary leader provide feedback to this employee?
- Would an extraordinary leader persevere in this situation, or find another way?
You probably noticed that I wrote you had to trust yourself to answer the question. We’re most likely to falter at the point of trusting ourselves to know the right thing to do – and then do it. You’re not perfect, you’re going to make a few mistakes. But you must learn to trust yourself.
Crucial insight: The “extraordinary leadership” answer nearly always requires you to choose the harder path.
Follow this three-step process, actively directing your future from the inside out:
- Ask the question: What would an extraordinary leader do?
- Listen to your answer.
- Choose the harder path.
That’s how you’ll become an extraordinary leader.