You instinctively know the difference between authority and leadership. An authoritative person is the person in charge, the guy with the degrees. He is the person above you on the org chart. A leader is a person you willingly follow. A leader is sought for his opinion, passion, and the strengths he brings out of his teammates. Numerous studies, articles, and books have been written about how not all authority figures are leaders, and not all leaders are authority figures.
Most professionals I have met would prefer to be viewed as leaders, but most go about becoming leaders by chasing titles, prestige, and organizational power.
To become a leader, you must follow the old sales adage, ABC, Always Be Closing. In sales, this means the salesman should always be driving a conversation towards concluding with a sale. The salesman should never forget it is his job to close with more business for his company.
For leaders, we must change the context of the ABC phrase. Every organization has gaps – resource gaps, knowledge gaps, passion gaps, and vision gaps, to name a few. To become a leader, you must close the gaps in your organization. You must find the gaps, communicate them, and close them. Along the way, you may accumulate titles, prestige, and organizational power, but you might not.
You will, however, gain credibility as a leader.
Author Note: This was originally posted on May 26, 2010.
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