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Learn to Lead Cheat Sheet by

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Even on day one at a new job, an entry-­level employee can lead. Leadership is a quality that everyone has, but only some wield. Business authors and deans at Santa Clara Univer­sity, Barry Posner and James Kouzes, say it best: "The truth is the best leaders are the best learne­rs."­ And we are all learners.

In their new book, Learning Leader­ship: The Five Fundam­entals of Becoming an Exemplary Leader (Wiley, 2016), the authors topple the myth that some people are leadership material while others are not. "­Lea­dership is a set of abilities, and like any other skill-set it can be learned and improv­ed."­

Because leading is a fundam­ental, democratic skill, we're outlining a few key insights from establ­ished leaders about how to forge ahead within the next generation of leaders.
Credit: Katie Sherman is a Brooklyn based freelance writer.


1. Tap Into the Power of Humility
That means swallowing your pride, say Posner and Kouzes. In lieu of deferring your opinion, be conscious of the weight of your opinion balanced against the thoughts and ideas of others. Rememb­ering that no one is better than another levels the playing field and makes a leader more open-m­inded.
2. Listen Twice as Much As You Talk
Another leadership icon takes humility to the next level. As the Chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase, Jamie Dimon once shared, "It's not just that you are recogn­izing other people. At the heart of recogn­ition is, you're acknow­ledging you don't know it all. You're acknow­ledging other people are really good. You're applauding other people for their contri­but­ions. You're telling them that you want to hear what they have to say."

Indeed, the truest way to discern your opinion is by gathering inform­ation and actively listening to subject matter experts, among them collea­gues, partners, market thought leaders and—most import­ant­ly—your fellow employees. Rely on your own ability to work strate­gic­ally, and then improvise, learn and grow your way into making memorable contri­but­ions.
3. Be Open to Taking Career Risks
Listening doesn't mean taking a back seat. Tech executive and leadership activist Sheryl Sandberg tackles the idea of collab­orating and prompts her audience of future leaders (mainly, women) to skip the people­-pl­easing in her buzzed­-about book . One key takeaway from Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead (Deckle Edge, 2013) was to jump for a leadership opport­unity even if you are only 60 percent certain you have the skills. Rely on your own ability to work strate­gic­ally, and then improvise, learn and grow your way into making memorable contri­but­ions.
4. Draw Assurance From Life Experi­ence
While leadership confidence comes partly from experi­ence, that doesn't mean having little to none makes a lesser leader. Most millen­nials have already demons­trated aspects of leadership whether they have realized it or not. Recent graduates can—and should­—le­verage their experience working in teams, within their families and/or in their commun­ities, applying acquired strategies in the workplace. Confidence can help us all take the steps required to be great leaders.
5. Invest In Your Streng­ths
Another confidence booster is uncovering your personal strengths, as well as those of who you influence. Leadership consultant Barry Conchie and New York Times best-s­elling author Tom Rath share that this is something most effective leaders do. After all, leader­s—and their teams—­aren't made the same; each have different strengths, from influe­ncing and relati­ons­hip­-bu­ilding to strategic thinking and executing.

Leadership & Learning

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