This blog post was based on a Mindvalley Talks episode with Steve Farber, who’s been listed as one of Inc magazine’s global Top Leadership and Management Experts. He’s spoken in front of dozens of Fortune 500 companies and is the bestselling author of ‘The Radical Leap”, which has been considered as one of the 100 Best Business Books of All Time.
Do you believe that ‘leadership’ is something that only applies to people in positions of authority – those with a title or at the top of the organizational chart?
It’s a common misconception, but the truth is that being a leader is a character trait. Natural leaders are placed in positions of authority, not the other way around.
Steve Farber, leadership coach and author of ‘Love Is Just Damn Good Business’, says that anyone can change themselves from being a follower to a leader, even if they’re new to the company.
“Leadership has nothing to do with your position or title. It has everything to do with who you are, how you live, and your perspective on the world. It’s your ability to influence people around you and change things for the better.
“That is our job as leaders – whether it’s changing the world, or changing the media, the environment, our company, or even our team – it’s an opportunity open to all of us,” says Farber.
So how can you immediately work on your leadership? Farber recommends asking yourself these four powerful questions:
1) Why Can’t I Make Positive Changes Now?
This is a common mistake made especially by newbies in a company – they enter the workplace, and immediately see problems with the organization.
But instead of speaking their minds, they choose to keep quiet.
They think that someday, when they reach position X, or when they have a lot of money, or when they eventually land that leadership role, only THEN they’ll start making changes.
But the truth is, anyone and everyone can already change things for the better – it’s merely a matter of taking the initiative.
Of course, Farber says that not all of your suggestions will change things the way you expect to, and that’s normal.
But, by simply trying to make changes, your vision can spark an idea that wouldn’t have come up otherwise.
So it’s important to reframe your perspective – instead of waiting to make changes in the future, start working on making changes now.
That’s what distinguishes followers and leaders.
2) What Is It That I Love About This Work?
To be a leader means to be able to inspire those around you – which is why you must first be inspired.
Farber says you should find something you love about work, and let that enthusiasm take over.
This is essential, even if you don’t love every little thing about your job.
Farber cites himself as an example.
“I love my work. I run around the world and speak at conferences, I write books, we consult, we do the whole thing – I love all of that.
“But I’ll tell you what I don’t love – I don’t love airports. I don’t love the sales function. And I don’t love finances.
“But they are things I have to do to do the work that I love. And there’s a technical term for that – it’s called being an adult,” Farber says.
“You don’t have to love it all, but you’ve got to find something that lights you up. After all, there’s no way you can create a team that loves working if you don’t love it yourself first.”
Of course, this isn’t easy. Farber admits that on some days, it takes longer to answer this question.
“If you can’t find something you love about work, maybe you’re in the wrong career, and that’s entirely possible. Sometimes, the thing you love to do is not what you do to earn a paycheck.
“But even if it has nothing to do with your work, you owe it to the people you’re leading or will be leading, to do what you love for yourself. Because that’s where your juice comes from.
“Cultivating what you love to do outside of work is going to affect the way that you work and enhance your experience.”
The key takeaway? Be inspired, always.
Find what you love, and let that be the reason you do everything else. Your enthusiasm will infect those around you too.
3) How Well Do I Know The People I Work With?
Being a leader is realizing that it’s not just about you – you’ve got to know those you work with too.
Farber recommends that each of us build a ‘story inventory’ – a collection of stories of each of the people we work with.
The idea is that you want to establish a deeper connection with them.
“When you understand somebody’s stories, you learn what’s important about them. You learn about their dreams, their aspirations, their challenges, what they love, and what they struggle with.
“And the more you know, the more you can understand them and begin to help solve some of these things,”
~ Steve Farber
Knowing the stories of those you work with establishes a deep connection between the two of you.
This helps you create a good working relationship that can outlast the problems and challenges of work.
Followers are content with how things are – leaders take charge and understand the importance of teamwork.
4) What Can I Do Right Now Regardless Of What Anybody Else Around Here Is Doing To Change Things For The Better?
This last one is one of the most powerful leadership questions there is. Unfortunately, it’s also one that faces the most resistance from all levels and almost every company.
Many feel that they won’t be able to change anything – because of their boss, the company culture, the people in the company, etc.
It’s usually a variation of “someone won’t let them.”
But what they’re really saying is that they’ll only lead when the environment is right – or in other words, they’re choosing NOT to lead.
That’s a perfectly acceptable choice, but Farber says that people need to realize that it is a choice they’re making.
The truth is, leadership means being able to make positive changes right now, regardless of your title and position.
After all, there’s always a higher position to work up to. At what point does it become acceptable to finally make changes?
“If we’re always looking at that and waiting for that to happen, we’re never going to do anything”
~ Steve Farber
The key is to realize that leadership isn’t about titles or positions of authority – it’s being conscious about your ability to make positive changes at every stage of life.
These four questions help build a robust framework for leadership.
The first question helps you step into that leadership role from wherever you are.
The second question builds leadership from within – learning what it is that you love about the people, the place, or the work that you do.
The third question shifts the focus from yourself to the people around you – how well do you know the people you work with? How can you build stronger connections with them?
And finally, the fourth question helps you take action – given everything that you know so far, what steps can you take right now to change things for the better?
These four questions help develop transform anyone from being a follower to someone with powerful leadership qualities.
What’s the biggest hurdle stopping you from being a leader now? Tell us in the comments below!