Friday, January 28, 2011

Blooming where you are planted

Blessed day all ~

This is a wonderful message worth sharing from a dear friend, leadership, image, etiquette and branding specialist - Roz Usheroff. She reminds us that true leaders emerge. That leadership has more to do with how you support and inspire, and less to do with your job title. Great nuggets of inspiration can be found in her message. After reading, write down how it relates to you and inspires you to change/improve upon your better self.

Blessings and Namaste,

Dawn Lang, MA


“It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” – Charles Darwin

One challenge many professionals face as the economy recovers is finding themselves in new roles in new jobs. Often, the corner office has been replaced by a middle cubicle and giving orders has morphed into taking them. Or, they now operate from a makeshift home office. If you find yourself now part of a work unit instead of managing one, are you no longer a leader? Not necessarily.

True leaders emerge. Leadership has more to do with how you support and inspire those around you and less to do with your job title. Let’s look at two examples.


When I first met Jonathan, he was an executive vice president at a large software company. Now he is an analyst at a small firm. His management experience exceeded his boss Jerry’s by a generation. After getting the lay of the land and mastering his new job, Jonathan started offering himself to Jerry as a sounding board. After Jonathan helped Jerry solve a couple of sticky problems, Jerry stopped seeing him as a threat and started giving him higher profile assignments and more latitude to contribute in ways beyond his “analyst” role.


As an associate editor, Sally was at the bottom of the food chain at the magazine where she works. Her online savvy, however, eclipsed her older colleagues’ who readily agreed when she offered to take over developing a Twitter presence for the publication. Sally also enjoyed teaching her colleagues how to use faster, more reliable online tools. Before long, they sought her input and invited her into digital strategy meetings. Sally is now in charge of the publication’s social media strategy.

Both Jonathan and Sally are leaders in ways that have nothing to do with their titles. Importantly, their leadership behaviors did not in any way usurp the managerial authority of their bosses.

While a department might have only one manager, anyone can emerge as a leader in their area of expertise. You can brand yourself as a leader by practicing leadership behaviors and making sure everything about you projects consistency, integrity and authenticity.

True leaders:
• Look for and see the big picture. This means asking questions and picking brains until you understand where the company wants to go and how your job function fits. Sally saw social media as a hole in her magazine’s strategy and she filled it.

• Understand the difference between leading and managing. Warren Bennis says the difference between leaders and managers is that managers do things right but leaders do the right thing. It isn’t about trying to do your boss’ job. It’s about helping your boss and the team succeed.

• Understand their own strengths and offer them to the team. No one succeeds by playing to their own weaknesses. Be honest with yourself about what you do well and volunteer for projects that lend themselves to your gifts.

• Take the time to build professional relationships. All business relationships are built on trust. We trust those who take the time to get to know us and understand what we are trying to achieve. In person, eating lunch with a colleague can be the most important hour of your day. Virtually, reach out through email and social media, but also pick up the phone.

• Communicate clearly, honestly and often. Many a misunderstanding is averted by reflecting back (in person, on the phone, or by email or text) what you believe the two of you just agreed. Leaders make sure they aren’t leading down the wrong path.

• Identify problems and opportunities, then offer solutions. It is easier to identify a problem than to offer a solution. The latter separates leaders from the pack.

• Initiate difficult conversations. This is where bravery and emotional maturity brand you as a leader. Patrick Lencioni, in “The Five Temptations of a CEO” suggests you must act on clarity, not certainty, rather than pay the price for procrastinating.

• Take both personal responsibility and the actions necessary to rectify mistakes. Leaders take risks knowing they won’t all work. Even the best baseball players only hit the ball a third of the time.

• Seek feedback and make course corrections accordingly. A true leader knows that she has blind spots. Those with the courage to capitalize on others’ perspectives are destined for greatness.

Checklist for thinking like a leader:

 Do I attract followers when I present new ideas? If not, how can I become a more compelling communicator?
 Do I understand the needs of my organization and the problems it is trying to solve? If not, where can I learn about them so I can offer my strengths as part of a solution?
 Do colleagues and senior management seek out my expertise? If not, what can I do to promote my capabilities?
 Do I have a strategy for keeping my knowledge fresh and up to date? If not, where can I access external courses to add value to my role?
 Do I manage relationships and serve as a role model? If not, how can I engage others to connect with me?
 Do I hold my head high even when things are uncertain? If not, what do I need to do to demonstrate calmness and confidence?

Over the years, I have had the privilege of working with amazing leaders. The ones who most impressed me were those who, regardless of their titles, inspired others because of what they stood for.

At the Usheroff Institute, we believe the business need for true leadership has never been greater. We also know that leadership and personal branding work hand in hand. For more information, visit

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