10 Ways to Develop Your Latent Leader
latent (adj.) – Not visible or apparent, but capable of developing or being expressed; dormant.
Everyone has leadership qualities. The visible difference lies in the degree those qualities are developed. Each individual chooses their own path and determines to what degree skills are developed and how those skills or qualities will be expressed. There are born leaders, but even those people evolve their approach to leadership over time.
Leadership skills are valuable in every crack and crevice of life. You could be the most successful person in your field and you will still face an endless stream of problems and situations that require you to seek new and innovative strategies for dealing with them. A leader approaches problem-solving with an eye on the future. Whether you’re leading yourself, your family, or a vast enterprise, it is important to develop the skills necessary to move forward with confidence.
I have included here what I consider to be the Top 10 Ways to Develop Your Latent Leader.
1. Know your purpose.
Everyone has a unique purpose in life. Too often, people settle for what life brings them rather than creating the life of their dreams. You can design your life around purpose if you have a clear vision of what that purpose is and where you are headed by pursuing it. No matter what your current situation, there is a way to bring it purpose and meaning, building from there.
2. Commit to goals.
With a clear vision and purpose, goals can be established that provide the road map to be used when implementing plans. There will be regular forks in the road presented to help you refine your vision and goals. Unless you have your road map ready to refer to, there is a good chance you will continually end up in the weeds trying to find your way back to the path of choice.
3. Manage your reputation.
Your reputation is one of your most valuable assets. Effectively managing that reputation requires an understanding of how the reputation was built and how it is best maintained or enhanced. The effective leader sets an example to follow and that contributes to their reputation. Your reputation can be parlayed into tremendous success if it is managed and used wisely.
Leaders know that they don’t have all the answers. In the book by Jim Collins “Good to Great”, the first quality demonstrated by leaders of the most successful companies in the study was humility. These leaders were open to suggestions and knew that their success was dependent on a group effort. To have sustained success, you have to be open to all possibilities.
5. Continuous improvement/innovation.
Along the same lines, leaders are in a never-ending cycle of improving themselves and whatever they touch. They read the latest material in their field of study expanding their territory in whatever ways they’re lead; provide a wealth of information as a resource for others; are continually educating themselves; and seek innovative ways to expand their horizons.
6. Demonstrate collaborative problem-solving.
The master-mind experience can be very powerful. The process of collaboration transcends the concept of “two heads are better than one”. When a leader begins to employ the ideas of people outside of their familiar decision-making track, innovation becomes commonplace. Collaboration can be applied in every area of life.
7. Grow other leaders.
The best way to develop leadership skills is to teach others to be leaders. It is easy to get bogged down in daily activities and inhibit your own growth and the growth of those you lead. When a person begins to develop their latent leader, there is a change in their thought process. It is no longer enough to just get the job done – it must be done right with awareness of consequences.
8. Be decisive.
As a leader, others will look to you for direction. You must weigh your options using the resources you have to work with and make the best decision. Sure you will make mistakes and, in hindsight, see that a different decision might have produced better results. Remember that there is tremendous value in those errors in judgment as long as you take the time to learn from them.
9. Learn from mistakes.
The leader takes responsibility for mistakes made. Period! Mistakes are an enormous investment of resources and should be used for all of their value. If you take mistakes seriously, spending the time necessary to determine the root cause that created the opportunity for the mistake to be made, you have turned a costly mistake into a potential gold mine. This is where innovation lives.
10. Realize your full potential.
In every individual there are untapped resources. The human potential has only scratched the surface. Each of us has a “sweet spot” where the lines between work and play merge. We have bordered on genius. Our job is to design life so that we spend increasing amounts of our time in excellence. The leader accepts nothing less than the best from themselves and others.
Leadership styles are as varied as the leaders that employ them. In order to begin to develop your latent leader, start anywhere on this list. Determine how you might use a new or different approach to a situation or problem you’re facing. Once you have experienced a bit of success, it will get easier to use a more innovative and creative approach to problem-solving. The leader will no longer be latent!