One of the most important ways you can grow in your leadership is by building a relationship with a leader you admire. An experienced leader can provide you with insightful feedback, intelligent advice and a different perspective. The value of such a relationship can be priceless—but how do you get started? Here are some steps you can take:.
Be willing to take the first step. It’s easy to think about how good something could be, but the only way to turn a dream into achievement is to make a plan and take action. Start by drawing up a list of leaders you admire who might be good candidates for a relationship.
Test your own assumptions. If you have someone in mind, don’t assume that they’re too important or too busy or too distracted to be interested. Most top leaders are committed to using what they’ve learned to help others, and you never know what’s possible until you try.
Make your request: Once you’ve decided which leader you want to approach, find a way to reach out to them—in person if possible, or by email or phone or letter. You don’t have to treat it as a formal request, but be clear about what you’re asking—especially if you don’t know the person well.
Speak from the heart. I’m a big believer in the principle that it’s not so much what you say but how you say it that matters most. If you speak from the heart, it’s likely to be appreciated. Let them know why you admire and respect them.
Combine vulnerability and confidence. Make sure your request and early communications don’t sound either too needy or overly confident. Let the person know that you’re eager to learn and want to improve.
Be gracious. If the person says yes, thank them warmly and follow up with a handwritten thank-you note. Schedule your first meeting promptly to get the momentum going. Keep your tone both enthusiastic and professional.
Treat rejection as a lesson too. If you get rejected don’t take it personally. If you have a chance, ask why they chose not to accept. The answer may help you improve your next attempt, or it may be just a question of overcommitment or bad timing. Whatever the response, know that you were courageous enough to ask. Be proud of yourself and find someone else to ask.
Make it a two-way relationship. As you work with the other person, keep your desire to learn and grow at the forefront to make good use of your time together. At the same time, look for ways you can benefit them—there may be times when your own perspective or background will be helpful.
Lead from within: Learning how to build a relationship with someone you admire is a skill that is both worthy and meaningful. This type of connection is a valuable investment, so treat it with care.
#1 N A T I O N A L B E S T S E L L E R
The Leadership Gap
What Gets Between You and Your Greatness
After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.
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Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR, Inc.com, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.