Whenever I’ve posited the question, “describe what a leader looks like to you,” the sum of responses I receive point to something curious. It’s as if age and other quantitative information serve as necessary determining factors. What would you say if I were to ask you?
There is absolutely something to be said for years of experience. That said, for me, being a leader has little-to-nothing to do with your age or title. And that inevitably holds true at every organizational level. It’s actually one main impetus behind why I chose to write Careering — so that young people can take charge of their own lives.
The truth? Being a leader means being accountable, responsible and willing to take action. Rest assured, that looks different for different people. Consider: It’s not always that assertive and authoritative person directing and delegating at the front of the room. Some people lead from “the back of the room,” so to speak. It means they lead by helping others achieve and fulfill on their goals.
In the workplace, these qualities — these character traits — are absolutely alive and well whether an individual is managing other people or a project.
The short of it is this: look within yourself and your work to see how and in which areas you’re able to apply, enhance and grow your accountability, responsibility and actionability for yourself, for your projects and/or for others.