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Lead First – Ask Later

decision-decisions-direction-choicesA roadmap for increasing your influence at work.

Ask people what they would change about their organizations, and you are likely to get an earful. The company website is clunky; it’s past time to rethink that tired growth strategy; and why oh why does the sales team continue to neglect potential customers in South America?

Someone should really do something. But who?

“There’s some magical group of people called ‘those guys,’ who are men and women we have to wait for,” says Harry Kraemer, a clinical professor of strategy at the Kellogg School. But the better path, he says, is to lose the shroud of magic around this group and simply become part of it. “The people who are really the leaders—the real, true leaders—are the people who literally say, ‘Well wait a minute. I am one of ‘those guys.’”

He offers the following roadmap to future leaders looking to change their organizations right now.

1. Lead from where you are. If you work for an organization, no matter your role, you already have all the clout you need to begin leading, Kraemer says.

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“When I bring up this topic, very often younger people will say, ‘I really want to be a leader, but I’ve got this one slight problem: I don’t have anybody reporting to me. When I get the phone call that I’ve now got a couple of people reporting to me, I’m going to shove this thing into fifth gear and start leading.’”

But leadership doesn’t require direct reports, or a long tenure at an organization, says Kraemer. You are equally capable of leading “whether you’ve got 50,000 people reporting to you or nobody.”

Read more: Don’t Wait to Be Asked: Lead – A roadmap for increasing your influence at work.

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