Not everyone in the world is fortunate enough to be able to attend high quality leadership training programs. This is an absolutely interesting kind of leadership skills training and quite often in life, it is also the kind of leadership training program that anyone who has a keen interest in any kind of self-development ends up doing anyway. The first step of this self-development approach is to identify leaders who you can relate to and more importantly ensure that they are the kind of leaders you actually want to become. These could be people from you work place, your superiors, your clients, the CEO of some company that you admire, etc. The leader who you identify could either be a person you know in real life or even someone who you just know of.
The next step of this assessment is to be able to watch them lead. If you work for an organization and the leader you chose was your manager, you should ideally be able to watch him demonstrate some leadership qualities. Be aware at this point that leadership is made up of a number of smaller elements. So even if you were to work closely with a leader, what you might see him do on a daily basis are likely to be activities like plan, communicate, organize, have discussions, etc. So, going back to the example of your manager being your ideal leader, you will watch him while he is demonstrating some kind of leadership.
Let’s say his leadership skills are really showcased well when he conducts meetings. For this step, you should ideally be a part of his meetings or at least be able to watch him conduct meetings. If for example the leader you have identified is Bill Clinton and as we all know, one of the most talked about dimensions of his leadership is his incredible style of communication. For you to be able to do this step of the process, you should watch Bill Clinton communicate. This can even be done by watching a video of one of his talks. This is also a very useful method for corporate leadership training that can be used in organizations of any size.
The next step is to watch what this leader is doing differently, that you are not doing. For example, you might watch Bill Clinton speak and realize that he has a much better vocabulary than you do; he is much more aware of what’s happening in the world and he is also excellent when it comes to using his voice in front of an audience. The list can be endless and there are several leadership training programs that use this approach. The last step of the process is for you to start consciously practicing those skills or work towards gaining that knowledge or even start building those abilities that you see your ideal leader demonstrating but you lack. This is called modeling. It is a great way to build different dimensions of your own leadership and become a better leader.
Finally, it is important to use what you have and get what you need. We all have certain in born characteristics of good leadership that we carry with us. In our leadership development journey, none of us starts from zero. The default level of leadership that we carry with us is something that we need to capitalize on and in parallel, look at what are the real gaps in our persona as leaders and consciously work towards bridging those gaps. If you can do this through the dedicated practice of the exercises outlined in this chapter, superior leadership is a guaranteed result.