“Everyone can exercise leadership by being an individual contributor at any level of an organization. What does that mean? Ultimately it comes down to looking for opportunities to make the world a better place. That sounds grand, but when people apply that idea to their work situations, it means having a vision of how your unit, or you as an individual, can be more effective and creative, go beyond day-to-day requirements, and energize others around that vision.” ~ Helen Handfield-Jones
If you follow this blog, you know that I believe every person at every level of the organization can be a leader, that leaders are made, not born, and that each one us is responsible for our personal leadership development. Knowledge at Wharton’s and The McKinsey Quarterly’s report called “Why Everyone in an Enterprise Can—and Should—Be a Leader” on the University of Pennsylvania’s Knowledge at Wharton’s Leadership and Change website supports my position as well as provides other great information about leadership at all levels. (I suggest you read the entire report.)
In a culture of decreasing budgets, slashed programs, and a wave of retirements within the federal workforce, no better time exists than now to develop your leadership skills. Leadership capabilities are valuable and transferable. If you are finding that your organization lacks the funds to invest in you, invest in yourself.
What can the organization do in a time of financial constraint? To adapt content from the report, organizations can help managers and employees become leaders in a variety of ways.”
- Encouraging people to read histories and study biographies – Check out the Staff Ride Library and “Leaders We Would Like to Meet.”
- Carefully observe leaders around them.
- Engage in lifelong education.
“Organizations can also mentor people and help them discover, in their own way, how they can improve. Perhaps the most important thing organizations can do is encourage people to get out of their “comfort zones” and take on new tasks and challenges.”
My husband and I saw a sign recently that we have used in various discussions to spur others to action: “If you don’t do it, who will?” You hold the key to your leadership destiny.