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Josh Linkner

May 7, 2014 by Speakers' Spotlight

If You Want To Be A Leader, Start Acting Like One

Award-Winning Entrepreneur and Creativity Expert Josh Linkner is on a mission to make the world more creative. Named the “Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year” and as a “President Barack Obama Champion of Change” award recipient, Linkner both inspires and entertains: in speeches and workshops alike, he provides powerful and practical techniques to jumpstart creativity, getting people thinking out of the box in business and at home. Josh recently wrote about how to become a leader, even without the title, for Forbes:

People are constantly asking me for advice on how to get promoted. They want to move up the ranks at their company, take on more leadership work, and be held responsible for more moving parts. While the notion of being a leader seems nice (but far off), you’ve got it backward. It’s not suddenly that you’re anointed as a leader and with that, you’re bestowed responsibility – quite the opposite, actually.

Leadership isn’t about your title, nor is it about bossing others around. Being a strong leader means thinking about the teams’ needs before your own, helping other people to grow and maximize their own full potential, and sharing credit when it’s due (and shouldering blame as needed, too). Why do you need to wait to get a promotion to start doing any of this? You don’t – that’s the good news, so start today. The more qualities of a leader that you begin to exhibit, the more obvious a choice you’ll be for the actual promotion down the road. By positioning yourself as someone who’s ready to take on more (after having proven yourself over a longer period of time), you’ll be hard to ignore. Plus, over time, you’ll have benefited your overall team with your efforts – this makes it a personal and collective win.

Let’s say you’re a salesperson striving to one day be a sales manager. While it’d be inappropriate to ask your peer-level colleagues for their numbers or hold them accountable to a certain quota, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t start doing other things that a leader would typically start. For example, if a teammate struggled with his last demo, ask if he wants to shadow your next couple of them and have a discussion over lunch about what went well on those calls and what didn’t, so you can help him improve his game.

If it’s the end of the month and you know the crew will be there working late each day, be the one to show up with snacks and some music – by boosting morale and encouraging others to give all they have, you’ve helped the greater good. If you lose a big client and your current manager asks the group what went wrong, be the first person to vocalize how you personally could have done better – without casting any fault toward anyone else. Vice versa, if something is a big win, be the first to talk about what an awesome job that someone else did on a particular project – by giving praise to a teammate, or shouldering a difficult burden, you’re positioning yourself as a true team player.

If you start acting like one, you’re already a leader, with or without title.

By Josh Linkner/Forbes.com/May, 2014