If not now, when? If not you, who?

This old adage is the birth point of a leader. Leadership is not just about helming big ticket companies or rallying political change, it is about taking charge of any situation however small or big. But how do you train your mind to do that?

1. Listen first

‘Listening’ isn’t just doing what everybody else tells you to do. It is about listening intently in any situation what the involved parties are saying, having your ear to the ground, and then forming your own plan of action. Being present and mindful in every situation will help you spot the risks, and also the possible solutions. If you have a team, never shut down exchange of ideas and opinions.

2. Have your skin in the game

This carries forward from being mindful. Don’t just give out instructions and orders, get your hands dirty. Contribute to the situation with any skill that might be suitable – writing, number crunching, rationalizing, even simply talking. When you are leading, it is crucial that you invest your time, energy and presence in the job or situation you are handling.

3. Learn to delegate responsibilities

While it is important that you do something, it is also crucial to remember that you cannot do everything. If you try to steer every aspect of a project single-handedly, that could jeopardize the whole project. There’s bound to be someone who would do that particular job faster and better. Recognize that person, give them the job and make them accountable for it.

4. Embrace change

Our brains love habits. The thoughts and actions we perform everyday fall into a pattern, and after a point we start doing things automatically, without thinking. But things can go wrong in a million ways; paradigm shifts like technological disruptors can change the game overnight. Our habit-induced brains are often slow to adapt, and that’s how mistakes happen.

As a leader therefore, you have to be prepared for change. Start noting each action you take, right from brushing your teeth to parking your car. Train your mind to take cognizance of every step you take. When it is time to make a change – be it your brushing pattern or some software in your office – you will know exactly what to do.

5. Have an abundance mindset

Everybody can complain about not having enough to go on with. Truth is, you will never have everything exactly to your satisfaction. You may have less money, or people, or less time than you’d like. But freaking out about that won’t help you get things done. Learn to appreciate what you have, instead of mourning what you have not. Train your mind to think of everything in terms of abundance. You’ll be surprised how creatively you can use your available resources to get the results you need, if you are determined and positive about them.

6. Learn continuously

Keeping your knowledge base updated is crucial to leadership. Keep re-inventing yourself. Hone your old skills, learn a new one, and read about anything and everything. It prepares you for eventualities, gives your ideas a sharper edge, and makes you more adaptive – all of which are crucial for leadership.

7. Be humble and grateful

Say ‘thank you’. Send out gratitude notes. Verbally appreciate your teammates for their work. These all matter. You might be the leader but you are not in this alone. You know that, you feel grateful, now make sure to show it. To be a leader you have to be selfless; think as the team rather than as individual.

8. Lift others up

Competitions within teammates hurt the entire team’s morale and the negativity can spell doom for the project itself. As a leader, your mindset should be that of helping your colleagues and clients, not competing with them. When you help others find their excellence it builds trust and camaraderie within the team. And the better an individual does for themselves, the bigger contribution they make to the team effort. Lifting people up will always benefit you, sooner or later.

Leadership is not something people are born with. With the right mindset, everybody can become a leader, in any situation. If you want to become one, these tips should help!

Free 3-Part Brain Training by Jim Kwik:

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