L eaders are all around us, without realizing they play a part in our everyday lives. They come disguised in many different names and titles; manager, director, vice president, consultant, and the list goes on. The truth is simply this – the path towards leadership comes in the form of a pyramid. That’s because leadership is not only a title, it is an acquired skill. Like any skill, in order to master it, you must be shown the ropes and put in the required practice. It is my belief that learning and leadership are indispensible to each other; therefore, you must take on other forms such as that of a volunteer, intern, or mentee, as a means of preparing for leadership. You should never lose sight of the fact that the importance of preparing is extremely crucial, because the experience will follow you throughout your career. Therefore, I would submit to you that each step towards attaining leadership must be carefully selected and taken seriously, even at the earliest stages of the process.
O nward and forward: Volunteering and internship are excellent ways to jumpstart your career in leadership. When you commit yourself to a cause for little or no pay, that, in and of itself, demonstrates that you are serious about learning and also willing to sacrifice in order to get ahead. This type of exposure could potentially lead you to a critical professional relationship. Just think, when you carry yourself with such determination, people will want to mentor you and or give you opportunities.
V alue opportunities: One such opportunity could be an offer to become a mentee. If a chance like this ever comes knocking at your door, you should definitely welcome the opportunity with gratitude. With someone to take you under their wings to show you the ins and outs, and dos and don’ts, would be priceless and a big short cut to your leadership learning curve. Keep in mind however, a mentorship is a relationship and relationships evolve; therefore you must commit to honoring your role as the mentee; just as the mentor commits to honoring their role as the mentor. It’s true – a relationship must be healthy in order to evolve. It is also important to note – even though you may have a mentor, you should always be positive and open towards other professionals who are interested in being a part of your career success.
E very good leader gives back; therefore, once you have received help as a mentee, it would be a great career move to “pay it forward” by being a mentor to others. Just think – by paying it forward and mentoring others, you will continue opening doors toward your success, and the success of others.