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Focus on what you CAN do. You CAN be a leader.

We too often obsess over what we can’t do. That blinds us to what we can do. And each and every one of us can––and should be a leader.

When I do an 8 STRATEGIES for ASPIRING LEADERS workshop I can almost guarantee that I’ll hear some form of one of the following lament:

“I’d do more, but I just don’t have the power!”

And for good measure we can add: “And even when I do––nobody notices!”

My stock answer is: “Knock it off!”

It’s time to step up. Stop worrying about what you can’t do and start focusing on what you can do.

There are many things an aspiring or emerging leader can do to help the organization and advance your career no matter what it says on the nameplate on your office door––and even if you don’t yet have your own office.

#1 Work first on being a good follower.

Leadership and "followership" are not fixed positions, but rather interchangeable roles. The best leaders are those who understand this dynamic and can make the switch when needed.

It’s important to learn when to consider and implement the ideas of people around you, even those who might technically be your subordinates. Most of the working experiential capital resides on the front lines, not in the c-suite and some of the most powerful solutions and innovations will come from the bottom up––if you’re willing to pay attention.

Before you accept your first official leadership position, being a good follower means practicing respect and deference to the people who have proven themselves. None of us usually understands all the factors that go into any particular decision, but it’s important to respect and support those decisions, not undermine them. (Providing they’re ethical––of course!)

#2 Find the right Master.