Doug RiddleDid you play a sport growing up? Remember that feeling of wanting to play on the team, but being unsure of what to do when the ball came to you? Until you learned the fundamentals of the game, you couldn’t really play.

It’s the same with leadership. You need to know some basics just to get involved.

That’s why more organizations are looking to develop leaders at all levels, not just within their management pool. Individual contributors — experienced professionals as well as early-career employees — are part of the leadership process. They may not be playing at the same level as experienced managers, but as informal leaders they have tremendous impact.

Think about the engineers and designers, the sales and marketing professionals, the medical staff or the scientists who manage projects, serve on cross-functional teams and influence decisions. As they navigate their work and the organization, they have many opportunities to lead. They can also stall a process or fumble through important work.

CCL’s Leadership Fundamentals program introduces individual contributors to the basics of effective leadership — including self-awareness, learning agility, communication and influence — while allowing them to define and refine a personal leadership style. Four messages thread through the program and can help you today:

  1. Think “process,” not “position.” Rather than looking for someone else to be a leader, ask yourself: “What am I bringing to the leadership process?” and “How can I better facilitate effective leadership in my group or on my project team?”
  2. Understand your leadership brand. Everybody has a leadership brand. It is created by the ways people behave, react and interact — and it is linked to effectiveness on the job. How well do you know your own brand? What does it say about you?
  3. Take control. You are in charge of your leadership brand. What will you do to change or strengthen it? What do you need to learn, do or change to grow in your career? How can you make it happen? You will get guidance, suggestions and support — but nobody will do this for you.
  4. Know you can make a difference. Your employer needs you to be as effective as you can be. Your co-workers do, too. Your leadership abilities are critical to your own success … as well as your company’s. Don’t sit on the sidelines, wishing you had a chance to play in the game.

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