This may or may not resonate with you but I'm going to give this a try. Think back to one of your favorite sports teams/players growing up or favorite TV shows. I am going to use basketball but one of my favorite sports is actually tennis. For you it could be football, rugby, soccer, golf, take your pick. Maybe it was a show like Frasier or “Survivor. " But there was something there somewhere that you saw and thought to yourself “if I could just get . . . . . (your item/activity/trait here) I would be a better basketball player, rugby player, CEO, dancer, you get the point. So we go out and buy things that will help us become more like that person.
Many of us treat leadership the same way. “I will be more punctual when I become a manager, " “I will buy this brand of clothing and become a better leader, " “If I could get those shoes I will have a better vertical. " You then watch a show on TV where a character does something different and decided that if you could just emulate what they do you will have better results so you move on to the next thing.
The sad truth is that leadership, just like in sports and all other areas of life, has no magic pill. There is no one thing that you can do to overcome certain hurdles. In my online classes I always tell people that leadership is a series of small steps. It's a matter of mastering a few simple things and doing them so well that people take notice. Coupled with your character, integrity, and willingness to help others you can quickly gain the credibility you need to really start making some headway.
So how do you really step into a bigger leadership role? The first step is having a realistic expectation. What makes an athlete good, a CEO good, or a character on TV good is their ability to do something extraordinarily well and bring other people along with them. They will have spent hours and hours mastering their trade. Learn your skill better than other people so that you stick out. If your boss gives you 2 responsibilities make it rise head and shoulders above the rest. Then take your understanding of how to do a good job and bring other people on board with you, let those above you see your ability to influence and those with you or below you see your interest in them. As you become the professional in your area you will make yourself attractive to people.
Unfortunately TV does a great job of marketing false hopes and unrealistic expectations. There is no short cut to great leadership and there are so many complex tools, methods, and styles out there it can make your head spin. The simple fact of the matter is that I have rarely seen exceptional leaders who haven't spent hours at their craft with realistic expectations. The basics in leadership just like life are always the same.
Mikhail Hutton is owner of The HIL Group, a leadership think tank that helps people and organizations manage the change associated with growth and transition. Their mission is to help organizations create better results through strong vision, communication, and simple leadership. He runs classes, speaking events, and workshops dealing with the above topics.
More from his blog at http://www.thehilgroup.typepad.com