Guest Author: Emily Bennington is the author of Effective Immediately: How to Fit In, Stand Out, and Move Up at Your First Real Job. She hosts a popular blog for career newbies at www.professionalstudio365.com and can be found on Twitter @EmilyBennington or via email at ebennington @ msn dot com.
Inspired by Seth Godin’s recent e-book “What Matters Now”, I decided to give the topic some thought myself. What better time to ponder these questions than at the start of a new year, right? If I had been invited to participate in Seth’s book (I wasn’t), I would have written about something that is curiously absent from an otherwise comprehensive list.
And let’s be honest, 2009 was not a time of great leadership. So as we turn the page on a new year, here are a few ways to build your own leadership muscle in 2010 and beyond:
1.) Volunteer. Not only is it just the right thing to do, but volunteering gives you an opportunity to lead a team outside your office. It’s a great way to hone your skills in a safe environment, and the lessons you learn will certainly translate to the workforce.
2.) Study. Make a resolution to read at least one business book per month in 2010. This will take some discipline, but the resulting education is guaranteed to sharpen your skills. (Tip: Buy a Moleskine journal and keep notes on items of interest. This will enable you to have all of your best business advice in one place.)
3.) Control. By control, I mean really take charge of everything in your life and your career. Be intentional about how you present yourself in person and online, knowing what kind of impression you want to make in advance. For example, if your goal is to be promoted from associate to senior associate in the next 12 months, you’ll want to show that you have the makings of an up-and-coming executive right now. This means arriving on time every day, dressing for the job you want (not the one you have), offering to take the lead on new projects, and so on.
It’s never too early to start thinking about what kind of leader you want to become. And if you prove you have what it takes now, people will follow regardless of your age. That’s because leadership matters – and there simply isn’t enough of it out there these days.
Will 2010 be the year you go from rank-and-file employee to emerging leader?