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How to Stop Worrying About Leadership and Start Leading

        posted by , August 01, 2013

You'd be surprised how many people fear leadership.

Leadership in an intimidating skill to acquire. After all, leadership is often portrayed as an almost superhero quality.

Leaders define history. Leaders change the world. It's a lot to live up to.

A Welsh Victory at the National Sporting Club

Don't let leadership scare you. The fact is that we all demonstrate leadership regularly.

Even minor improvements in your leadership skills can pay huge dividends for your career and personal life.

Think incremental improvement. You may not be John F Kennedy or Napoleon tomorrow but you can work towards leadership each day of your life.

These 7 habits will help you improve your leadership capabilities:

1. Lead Small to Lead Big

The single biggest mistake that up-and-coming leaders make is to only practice leadership in critical situations (e.g. at work).

Why not practice all the time? In your personal life. In your hobbies. At your school. Standing in line at a grocery store.

Demonstrate leadership in every small way you can think of. It will build your confidence, skills and presence as a leader.

2. Face Fear

Fear of being in a leadership position is fairly common. Critical leadership skills such as public speaking are amongst the most common fears.

You may even have fears and not realize it.

It's common to make excuses to avoid situations that make you nervous — even if you're not conscious of your underlying fear. That's why it's important to do something that makes you nervous everyday.

Introduce yourself to someone. Volunteer to do some public speaking. Take on responsibilities that are slightly over your head. Make a bold statement in a meeting. Any positive actions that make you a little nervous are usually good for you.

3. Add to Your Responsibilities

Motivational speakers sometimes make leadership sound easy.

Just believe in yourself and impart words of wisdom every once in a while and everyone will follow you. If only it were that easy.

The reality is that leadership is about responsibility. To put it plainly, everyone is full of good ideas. Good ideas are cheap. It's the ability to make ideas happen that define leadership.

Some leaders do manage to be hands-off thought leaders. However, the vast majority of successful leaders don't hesitate to take on responsibility.

Take worthy action items in meetings and deliver them. Take on big projects (that scare everyone else) if you believe in them.

4. Seek Leadership Roles

Leaders have an atmosphere. That certain indescribable quality that effortlessly draws social influence.

You can't improve your leadership abilities with book smarts alone. You need to establish your indescribable leadership atmosphere. You can only do that by leading.

Find as many leadership roles as you can dig up. Volunteer to coach. Teach at your local community college. View yourself as a leader at work. Volunteer for work assignments that have a leadership component.

5. Aim for Leadership Bliss

Think about what kind of leader you want to be. If you only emulate the leaders around you — you'll miss the chance to jump way past them.

6. Build Leaders Around You

Leadership is often portrayed as a back-stabbing, heartless competition. There's some truth to this. You'll face office politics and diplomatic challenges as a leader. You'll need to be tough.

That being said, leadership isn't a selfish pursuit.

Ask any highly successful leader, most will tell you that they helped others to become leaders. Many will swear it was the key to their success.

7. Focus on Key Skills

Leadership isn't a skill — it's a whole bunch of skills that together make you a leader. Work on your skills.

Look at yourself in a realistic light and lead with your strengths, while working on your weaknesses.

This is the 5th in a 9-part series of posts called how to win at leadership.

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