Ouch. I keep reading about personal branding being a tool that sets you up to be tomorrow’s leaders. Why do old people always say this to young people? And, why do young people repeat it?
Does anyone wake up in the morning and say, “I hope I’ll be tomorrow’s leader.” When they wake up the next day, they a) discover that hope is not a strategy, and b) that tomorrow is yet another day away.
Don’t be fooled by anyone who says you can’t lead today. Truth is: if you’re not leading something today, someone else is. And, they aren’t waiting for you to wake up and say, “Thanks for keeping my spot warm, move over, I’m leading now.”
They will look down at you from their perch of leadership (no matter how minor) and kick you back down among the crowd of followers. (They probably won’t actually kick you. What they will do is more covert: steal your ideas, not pass along a great concept you offered up or just talk you down to their leader.)
Personal brands of earth: wake up. It’s today. Lead today. Whenever it turns out to be tomorrow, you just keep on leading. Don’t be fooled by that “tomorrow’s leader” ambition killer Kool Aid, even if it they say it’s good for you. It’s not. It’s good for them.
Seth Godin famously says that you belong to a tribe (maybe several) and within that tribe you can step up and lead it. Maybe you’ll lead a particular sub-group or lead on a particular project.
I’m sure you can think of something in every segment of your life, where you can initiate a plan, project or program and lead. Consider your work, social life, community, worship group, family, sports club, hobby… the places where you can exercise leadership is almost infinite.
When leaders above you and around you see you leading by virtue of your own initiative, you’ll be promoted as a leader of greater and greater authority. Your sphere of influence and control will widen. You’ll meet other leaders. You’ll recommend each other for choice assignments. You’ll invent. Become CEO of your life and probably others.
Study leadership, and make that part of your personal brand. Remember you take on responsibility for the people you lead, just as much as the outcome from their actions.
The sooner you take leadership roles, the better.
Right now would be good.
Nance Rosen is the author of Speak Up! & Succeed. She speaks to business audiences around the world and is a resource for press, including print, broadcast and online journalists and bloggers covering social media and careers. Read more at NanceRosenBlog. Twitter name: nancerosen.