Leadership is not a destination. Stop waiting till you drive to it.
Two years ago, I met a high school student Jerry who at best I can say is an average student. When it comes to Mathematics, I may not be wrong to say that he is a below average student. It happened that he decided that he would attend the Cowbell Mathematics competition for his school. At first, it was laughable hearing him say that. “Is it not Jerry?” Some teachers remarked. No one would want him to embarrass the school in the name of going for competition.
Jerry was not relenting in his ambition. He began training himself by attending extra lessons. The school mathematics teacher volunteered o he helping him out, not with the intention of taking him to the competition anyway. Jerry would spend night and nights solving numerous maths problems. He cut out time for his games and other social activities just to give more time to his ambition.
Jerry’s maths teacher began noticing a great improvement in his participation. This made his teacher get more interested in giving him extra lessons. It was not long, the school had a mock competition amongst classes to help them select those that might be representing them in the regional cowbell competition. Surprisingly, Jerry became the best in his class and then was selected to be among those who will practice more against the competition.
Jerry did not relent. He went as far as staying back in school during mid-term break t enable him to have more time for mathematics. By the time the rest of the students came back, Jerry has improved greatly and solve maths problems in seconds. The school conducted another mock completion and Jerry was selected amongst the three representatives of the school. They went to the regional competition and Jerry held the first position. It was a big surprise for the school that Jerry will rise from a nobody to a celebrity in school.
We can see leadership in the same way. If you want to succeed in positional leadership, you need to learn it. You need to learn how to become a positional leader even before that position is given to you. It is not something you have to begin to learn while you are in that position. You surely would make terrible mistakes that may not be repairable. It is not that you will get perfect in leadership in a day, no. It is rather a lifetime process.
You have to try out your leadership skill and decision leading process now when the stakes are small and probably the risk of mistakes is low. You might get into trouble when you occupy a positional leadership. By then the risk and the cost are high and the impact w\would be far reaching? Mistakes made as a class perfect can be ignored, mistakes made as a principal can be far-reaching and difficult to be overlooked.
It is a mistake to daydream that one day you will reach the leadership destination when you will be at the top. You have to start now to think like a leader, talk like a leader, act like a leader and carry yourself about like a leader. Remember, by the time opportunity would come, it might be too late to start preparing for it.
The bottom line is this, if you want to be a successful positional leader, you have to learn to lead before the position comes. Leadership is not a position that you have to occupy before you begin to act like a leader. Leadership is not a destination that you need to arrive before you become a leader. It is influence – no more, no less.