When building a CV and compiling examples to impress others at interview, we are taught to look for evidence of our leadership skills. Were we ever captain of a sports’ team, did we supervise others as part of our Saturday job, do we practice speeches in the college debating society?

As a young person, it can be a very real challenge to demonstrate evidence of leadership. There will always be ‘natural leaders’ who, by definition, are picked as team captains and popular in school. And there will always be those who never want to lead and who are not interested in the responsibilities.

Yet, for the majority of us, leadership is part of life and of work to come – at no matter what level. It is therefore so important to try to spot any opportunities to step forward and learn through practice.

To find out more, and to help you devise a strategy to learn and develop your leadership skills, we turned to Julie Nottage, former Sales Director at P&G and now CEO at Aquamarine Consultancy in Bristol. Julie is an expert trainer with a real passion for people and business, specialising in management consultancy. Here’s what she told us about leadership and how you can show it …

How can we define leadership?

Throughout our lives we hear people say things like “You need to show leadership” and “Make sure you lead a team or a project to show your leadership skills”, but how many of us can actually describe what leadership is?

This is what people have been known to say leadership is:

  • “It’s being able to tell people what to do and they just do it”
  • “It’s about shouting at people and telling them what to you”
  • “It’s a style thing: I could not be a leader I don’t shout or thump the table”
  • “You need the status to be a leader: it’s a position you are given e.g. Head teacher!”

If you look up the word ‘leadership’, you will get thousands of definitions. If you type ‘leadership’ in the search bar for any online bookstore, you’d find thousands of books on offer, but how would you know which one to buy? And if you were asked to write a definition of leadership in a single sentence, most of us would struggle.

The five steps to leadership

Let me try and demystify, and guide you through, what leadership is and how you can show it. I’ve simplified it into five steps …

Step 1. Have a vision – a goal or picture of what you want to achieve.

Step 2. Get others involved – get others to want to help you achieve the vision you have.

Step 3. Get people excited – energise those others to achieve the goal you have – motivate them.

Step 4. Make sure people are able – enable them either through training or by you removing barriers.

Step 5. Get it done! – execute the plan you had right at the beginning – with excellence!

An example of how to lead an idea

Based on these 5 steps, let’s imagine you want to get your friends to go on a holiday with you.

Step 1 – you show them the idea you have perhaps with a website of where you want to go, where you will stay and what you will do there. You show them the end goal – the vision.

Step 2 – get your friends together and make sure they are all keen on the idea and signed up to follow your vision.

Step 3 – get them excited with regular updates on social media including images of where you are going.

Step 4 – set up a budget plan that enables everyone to save to go, and know what the plan is.

Step 5 – book the holiday and go and have a GREAT time!

Simple!

You have shown great leadership resulting in a plan that is brilliantly executed!

Don’t leave out any step – especially getting others ‘bought into’ your idea – or you will fail!

If you follow this model in everything you do – be it a school project, a team sport, a Duke of Edinburgh expedition or getting your parents to allow you to do something – you will show leadership and succeed!

And finally …

To me this can be summed up in the following quote by Dwight D. Eisenhower, 34th President of the United States: “Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.”

Thank you, Julie. You can reach Julie at Aquamarine Consultancy in Bristol on [email protected]

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