If you truly want to develop your leadership skills, but can’t seem to find any opportunities to do so within your current position, then why not look for opportunities outside of your current position?
I’m not talking about looking for another job, I’m talking about getting involved in organizations outside your company that will give you the competitive advantage and skills you need ... skills you can easily transfer to your current job, future jobs, and in fact to every area of your life. I'm talking about people skills, speaking skills, organizational skills, risk-taking skills, and all kinds of other leadership skills.
Getting involved is an important investment in your professional development -- especially if you feel intimidated, believe you are not “a joiner,” or don’t have confidence in your leadership ability.
Great places to get involved include:
- Organizations your company is already involved in, such as the United Way, or any other charity they work with.
- Company teams -- i.e. the company softball team, golf team, etc.
- Professional associations-- either specific to your industry, or general, such as the Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Female Executives, etc.
- Community or charitable organizations -- like the PTA, your local homeowners' association, Rotary or Lions Clubs, and many more.
- Your church, synagogue or mosque (or any religious group) -— don’t just attend activities there, get involved.
Remember, it’s not about joining and simply showing up to meetings or sitting on the sidelines, listening. It’s about getting involved. Volunteer for committees. If you are asked to participate in a project, or be on a board, say yes. Aside from meeting interesting people who might very well be useful to your career, you will come out of your shell and grow.
I joined the Mid-Atlantic chapter of the National Speakers Association years ago. For a while, I simply attended meetings and listened, but after a while I was asked to work at the new membership table. I did, and over the years I was asked to do more and more. Eventually, I was asked to take over as president of the chapter.
Was I doubtful and uncomfortable? You bet!
Was I worried about how much of my time it would consume, and just what I was getting myself into? You know it!
Did I accept the position? Of course!
I discovered that I got much more from it than I ever expected, in terms of my personal and professional growth.
Although some people are born leaders, the rest of us need practice. Look for any opportunities to place yourself in a leadership role. Don’t be a shrinking violet when it comes to letting your bosses know what you are up to outside of the office. Even if your current position is not one of high responsibility, knowing that you are capable of -- and interested in -- taking on responsibility always makes a favorable impression in an employer’s mind.
After all, that old saying is so true: a good man (or woman) is hard to find.