Sometimes back I met a guy in a senior position in leading a large team of professionals selling technical solutions to large clients. His job required that he coach and mentor his team on regular basis. However, this guy had a feeling that his communication skills were not as good as his peers and he had the feeling that because of this gap he was not able to exert or demonstrate ‘leadership’. He was under strong impression that he was not being considered a good leader by his peers, bosses and his subordinates and had further apprehension that he would not grow further unless he fix his gaps in communication skills. When I asked him why he thought so, he replied that ever since he joined university, he was taught only one thing that the great leaders must be great communicators to strike their influence on others. Then I asked him if he wad putting any deliberate effort to improve upon it. He apparently using several different ways to hone his skills. I asked him one thing- is this the one thing he could do best? He replied “no”. Then I asked him “What is that one thing you can do best or better than your peers?” For a while he did not have an answer. He kept on pondering over it and he kept on thinking about it for several days before he met me again and told me that the one thing he was best at was matching customer needs with the exact technical solution. This was the single big reason for his promotion to his current level. By doing it for several years in his job, he had became so good at this that he progressed to his current level. That’s it. That realization was enough. He did not need any further coaching or guidance. He went back and some months later he told me how he was exerting his “leadership” in coaching his own guys to map solutions to client needs and all of sudden he started seeing himself as leader and other started giving him that space. He did not need to and could probably never become good at communication skills with which he originally associated the leadership to.
Let me break a common belief here. To become a leader, you don’t have to be outstanding speaker, you don’t have to have the ability to lead teams, you don’t have to be diplomatic, you don’t have to outshine other all the time in all the things. Interesting thing is that you don’t have to present yoursekf as aggressive or dominating. All those characteristics which have been associated with leadership are just the outer envelope and have been making the understanding about leadership so complex for a common day-to-day professional.
All of us are not Martin Luther King. We are just common professionals. And we need simple rules of this game. This one rule of leadership always intrigued me throughout my life -RULE OF SPECIALIZATION TO LEADERSHIP. This fundamental rule starts with “the one thing”. Don’t we all professional do same thing day in and day out for years and years? Don’t we have some “one thing” which we become best at over the time and become specialists? We do. And that’s the door to personal leadership. This is the way a common professional can achieve leadership.
It takes time and focused energy to identify that “one thing” which you know resonate well with your natural talents and your inner personality. You need to identify that ONE THING you are best at- something no one around you could do better than you. You ought to create that distiction. This one thing could be knowledge, could be a skill, could be a passion and this one thing could be a feeling and it could simply be the way you think about things. It does not have to be a skill.
This is THE one thing you would want to invest your energy, time and focus upon moving forward. The day you achieve specialization in ONE THING, you achieve leadership.
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Raman K. Attri is a Training Transformational Consultant, Learning Strategist and Researcher with rare experience in shortening time-to-proficiency of employees performing complex jobs at complex organizations. Strong believer in personal performance as the starting point of any world-class leadership, he developed a scientific model Personal Resonance© to achieve peal personal performance and self-leadership. Additionally he helps trainers, learning specialists, instructional designers and training professionals with articles on proven techniques to transition successfully into training and learning management role.
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