Building a Foundation for Leadership

 
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Technology has changed the way we live and work. Today, the lines between our personal and professional lives are blurred, resulting in an “always-on” world. As technology continues to advance, the workforce will continue to transform, and information and demands in this global economy will continue to increase. As a leader in today’s fast-paced world, you need a career plan that leverages your strengths to advance your business, team and career. Effective leaders formulate their own foundation for leadership that is built on a passion that is contagious, a brand of both how they are perceived in the organization, and how they are prioritizing their resources, and a vision for how they will lead. This foundation helps to keep an effective leader grounded and focused, and
helps their team and business thrive in times of change.

BE PASSIONATE

Work is not a place, but a thing we do. It’s a part of our lives. When you are passionate about your work and career, it shows, and is a critical differentiation in today’s hyper-competitive world. People often ask what it takes to have a successful career. Working-hard, being resultsdriven, having organizational agility, being strategic, etc.…. those are all table-stakes. If two people possess all those qualities, the one who is more passionate will win every time. Why? Because passion is powerful. It will motivate you to always go the extra mile, not because you must, but because you are excited to see the impact it will drive. 

And when you are passionate, everyone around you will know it, and be motivated by it. Your team will be excited, and customers will feel valued. But best of all, you will love what you do. 

Ask yourself, what is my why? What drives you and pushes you forward. Whatever it is, that is your why. Its why you do what you do. Your why should be used as a guidepost to decide what companies and roles to take next. If you’re like me, your why may be multiple things. Your why could be that you whole heartedly believe in the work you are doing and how technology is enabling human potential. Your why could be that you want to build a better world for your children or the community around you. Whatever your why is; knowing it is important. Your why will fuel your passion and your career. 

BUILD YOUR BRAND

News flash – you already have a brand. Whether you have created it or not, people already have an opinion about you. Your brand represents who you are at home, in your company and in your community. A good brand conveys credibility, quality and experience, and can open doors for you. A bad or mis-informed brand, on the other hand, can severely limit your possibilities. So why not take control of your brand instead of letting your brand control you and your career?

When it comes to leadership, knowing your brand is critically important. Possessing the self-awareness to recognize what works for you and where you need to make some changes is equally important. Identify the three areas that you want to be known for; establish areas of expertise; prioritize your time and resources; and consistently demonstrate your capabilities and commitment in those areas. Being true to your brand helps people know what to expect from you and can inspire and drive confidence in your team.

HAVE A VISION

Develop a big picture vision for where you want your career to go. Focus not only on your next role, but also on two to three roles ahead. Take roles that both leverage skills you already have, enabling a fast start, and allow you to gain new skills to continue to grow and develop. And when a job takes you off your path, or a role no longer sparks your passion, then consider changing roles. It’s easier to succeed when you know what success looks like for you and the path you must take to get there.

Regardless of where you are in your career journey, your vision should also include a focus on how you will lead. At Dell Technologies we look at seven categories of leadership that include relationships, drive, judgement, vision, optimism, humility, and selflessness. Through regular surveys, we measure our leadership team on these characteristics. We do this to better understand which characteristics a successful leader possesses. There’s good news. Our studies shows that you do not need to master all these skills. However, a successful leader must be exceptional at one of these skills.

Once you know how you will lead, build upon it; be authentic and true to your leadership style. For example, if you know that building relationships is one of your strengths, leverage that to build your team and customer loyalty, and to drive differentiated high-performing interactions.

A well thought-through foundation for leadership will morph over the course of your career. I encourage you to adjust and build upon it. Stay true to your goals and let your foundation serve as your guide to success as a leader. 

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