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How can you make the transformation from “hard worker” to leader?

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Mary White,

Mary White is a very experienced Practice Manager based in Dublin, working for innovative Patent and Trade Mark specialist international law firm Hannah Moore + Curley – their website (and unique interior decor!) is well worth checking out. In her previous role as a GP Practice Manager she won a national award for Practice of the Year. And that’s  just some of her accolades – there are too many to list! Ben

Think big and positive! I used to be afraid to set out tough targets – in case I failed. However, (by failing at things often enough) it became apparent to me that “failing” is just another word for “practicing”.   By only setting small, easy goals, I was missing out on the experience of the genuine satisfaction of real improvement, and achieving something really difficult.  Have small goals too, sure – but do invest some serious thought and effort into wonderful, ambitious, difficult, long-term targets. Don’t sweat about the practice, just enjoy the journey!

Don’t wait for a senior job offer to land – develop leadership skills and influencing behaviors where ever you are.  As a workplace novice I assumed authority and power were synonyms – but as I noticed that many people in authoritative positions with well paid, senior-titled jobs are wastefully ineffective, failing to usefully employ their power to full effect. On the other hand, I was pleasantly surprised to find that pretty much anybody with the right behaviors can have a powerful influence — without any special title.

Cultivate good manners. They’re not an optional extra.

Be respectfully disruptive.  Showing innovation and creativity is a great way to show your sparkle. It’s always worth testing conventional wisdom by asking yourself questions like “What if?” and “Why not?”  Follow through the logic of your insights, though, and scrutinise your ideas before you blurt them out in a board meeting! Well-thought out improvements and useful solutions are more valuable than merely pointing potential problems.  Don’t just make noise for the sake of being disruptive; when your voice is heard, you should be talking about making things better.

Think for yourself. Form your opinions carefully. Base them on the full facts – beware assumptions and take popular opinion ‘with a grain of salt’.

Master conflict.  Everybody seems to be born with a propensity to err on one side or the other of conflict! Some folks (myself included) would prefer to avoid conflict, while others seek it out aggressively, thinking that this will make them powerful. It’s taken me a long time to recognize that conflict is a healthy part of life and the best way is to approach it directly, assertively, honestly, and constructively. Truly effective people can refrain from aggression, or from reacting defensively, when dealing with dissenting opinions—they simply welcome different opinions openly. Be humble enough to know that you may have missed something. Embrace helpful new ideas wholeheartedly, keeping in mind that you care more about the end result than you do about being right.

Know your own strengths and weaknesses.  Having a stern look at your strengths and your weaknesses is essential… if you don’t control them, they’ll control you!

Believe in yourself. Believe in your own power and capacity to achieve whatever you set your mind most firmly on. It might surprise you that other people will believe in you too!

Ask for help – and give help willingly.  Believing in yourself includes believing in your power to persuade others to help you!  Put your mission ahead of your ego. There’s enough success out there for everybody to have fair share! It’s a sign of both confidence and humility. Make friends, make connections, collaborate. Give back to your community. Generosity is inspiring and powerful. Share your knowledge, share the workload, and above all, share the feeling of achievement. Personal success is memorable – sharing it multiplies its significance and influence.

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5 thoughts on “How can you make the transformation from “hard worker” to leader?

  • PaulW
    June 8, 2016 at 10:57 am

    Very sound advice Mary, it is very easy to get swept up in the heat of the moment or when confronted with a difficult situation. I find that making sure that I am listening and seeing rather then just hearing and looking helps me to focus and respond in a positive way even if my response is not what the other party was wanting to hear – can make for a lonely day at the office though.

    • June 16, 2016 at 8:39 am

      Thanks for the kind comments Paul. I do a lot of training on listening skills, teaching people to read the non-verbal cues and tone of voice as well as the actual words so as to read the emotional context as much as the facts of the situation. Hopefully, if you continue to act compassionately and consistently in your team’s best interests, your colleagues will come to understand your integrity and positivity are qualities to be admired. Sometimes it’s lonely work to establish a reputation for being fair, objective, and always doing what you believe is the right thing — but in the long run, these are traits that earn respect.

  • June 15, 2016 at 7:43 am

    Mary, your opinion as posited above is inspiring . Failure they say is attimes the highway to success, as every discovery of what is failse makes one to earnestly seek for what is true. The approach of no taken any step is a dangerous one. My governor, when I served as a commissioner in my state encouraged us to take steps and make mistakes instead of not doing anything at all.

  • June 16, 2016 at 8:58 am

    Thank you for the kind comments and I agree that procrastination by a leader is very disheartening for his followers – so when you are wisely choosing silence, watchfully waiting, or just in an information gathering stage, communicating that effectively to people is very important. When choices are to be made or action is to be taken, decisive leadership is certainly very inspiring and powerful. Good luck in your endeavours!

  • June 28, 2016 at 10:51 pm

    Your article makes a good reading. To think big and positive is to exercise strong faith in ones potentials and abilities. But it is not easy. Good inspiration there!


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