Success as a Leader is a Journey of Multiple Small Steps at the Right Time

Leaders are not born, they are made. Ask any successful leader about how they got to where they are today, and they will tell you that it was a long journey through multiple roles in their career. Gradually morphing into who they are today vs who they were when they started.

Very often we delve in self-doubt and assume great leaders have something we don’t that got them to their success. Truth is the only difference between you and that leader is effort, patience, and experience.

All leaders start with no prior experience of being one. They become better over time through everyday experiences of handling situations, people, and problems. Every challenge is an experience, every experience is a learning for growth and continuous growth evolves an individual into that strong leader you see in others.

So how can you get on this path of growing into a leader? First, assess your competency in your current role and know when you are ready to take a step forward.

Throughout working life, you would circle between 3 phases that exist quite universally across jobs and industries. Even if you a practicing as a medical doctor, from one posting to another, you will experience these phases. These 3 phases are Learning, Thriving and Transforming.

Learning

Learning is when you are sharpening skills to meet expectations on the job. This is at the start of a new job, a promotion or expansion of responsibilities within your current role. This phase lasts between 3 months to a year depending on how much of the work is new to you and how quickly you learn.

The goal is to gather enough skills to be able to deliver the minimum of what is expected on the job, consistently and without supervision. Once ready, your manager too should feel that you have achieved competence at the role and there isn’t much left to teach you on the job anymore. This brings us to the next phase of Thriving.

Thriving

Thriving is about performing above expectations with a yearning for further challenge. A thriving individual regularly exceeds expectations, brings unique value to the role and gains recognition as the ‘go-to’ person in the team.

Some individuals are comfortable at this stage and choose to remain in the role inevitably. These individuals are experts in this role. They are motivated by the impact they create with the good work they do and teaching others in the role. In medical practice this could be a long serving senior medical officer perhaps. In corporate careers this could be a manager of a small team. Both individuals have achieved a level of strong leadership of their work and are leading others through their experience.

Alternately, if you are thriving but feel you need more challenges to stay energized in your role or career then you are ready to for the next stage of Transforming.

Transforming

Transforming is about eagerly seeking a significant change. The motivator for change here stems from boredom as a result of being great at what you do. The value of teaching others of this expertise you possess no longer fulfils your sense of satisfaction at work. You are yearning for a greater challenge that will fulfil your desire to learn, grow and progress.

The key to transformation is knowing what you are looking in your next step and knowing the gaps you need to be close to successfully achieve that next move. Thereafter, build a development plan to close these gaps perhaps through volunteering for projects within your current role, taking up a course or finding a coach for skillset development.

In conclusion, everyone passes through all of these phases during their career. Recognizing where you are in this cycle can be a great guide to knowing the right time and next step in your career. How fast you progress depends on your ability to learn, be proactive at work and show persistence to overcoming obstacles. All great leaders travel a similar journey of learning, thriving, and then transforming with every role to move forward.


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