“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” — John C. Maxwell
How can you become a leader in your field? A colleague shared a link to How to Be a Leader, which I found interesting. I think the key takeaway is that to be a leader in your field, you help move the ball forward.
You Need More Than the Skills You Got In School
“To succeed in your career, you need more than the skills that you got in school — you need to be the world expert in something. Knowledge is global, it’s growing exponentially, and nobody can pack all of the necessary knowledge into their head. So everyone’s going to specialize. I think there’s a lot to be said for focus and specialization. The trick is picking what to specialize in. Personally, I like to specialize in skills that compound over time versus flavor of the day.”
I think that’s a great reminder that your grow in your career by spending time in it. You don’t just learn it all up front.
Summary of Steps
In the article, Philip E. Agre presents a six step recipe for becoming a leader in your field:
- Step 1. Pick an issue.
- Step 2. Having chosen your issue, start a project to study it.
- Step 3. Find relevant people and talk to them.
- Step 4. Pull together what you’ve heard.
- Step 5. Circulate the result.
- Step 6. Build on your work.
Step 1. Pick an issue
For this step, I would recommend picking something that is underserved. It should be a meaningful problem that solving would have a significant impact and move the ball forward. In the article, Philip gives an A-Z list of how to pick which ball to move forward.
In this step, pick an area in your field that is underserved.
Step 2. Having chosen your issue, start a project to study it.
A project is a great way to focus. A simple recipe for a project is to have a vision of the end in mind, and chunk up the outcomes you want to accomplish, and the steps and actions to get there. Having a project will help keep you on track.
Step 3. Find relevant people and talk to them.
Involve the right people. You need a sounding board for your ideas and to help you find the right issues and focus. Every domain has a pocket of experts that are in the know. For your work to be credible, you need to be inclusive of existing work, and including the voices of the experts in your field, adds to your credibility. Being connected in your field takes you further.
Step 4. Pull together what you’ve heard.
Consolidate and synthesize your learnings into a useful artifact.
Step 5. Circulate the result.
Share your work with people in the field.
Step 6. Build on your work.
Use the feedback to improve your work, and to take it further. Building on your work will help turn good ideas into a strong foundation and platform for additional work.
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