Does experience make you a leader?

Does experience make you a leader?

Generation Y would answer this question with a stern “no”. On the contrary, some, if not most of the Baby Boomer and X Generations would believe that experience is essential and earned and that is what makes you a leader. I, on the other hand, believe that experience shapes leadership, but it does not make you a leader.

So what does make you a leader?

I have recently just finished reading the world’s best selling book by Paul Arden“It’s not how good you are, It’s how good you want to be”.

For those of you that are unfamiliar, Paul was Executive Creative Director at Saatchi & Saatchi in the late 70s, 80s and early 90s. Paul was responsible for some of Britain’s most successful advertising campaigns including British Airways, Silk Cut, Intercity and Fuji and some famous slogans for Toyota and The Independent.

Last week, I attended Firebrand’s CEO, Greg Savage’ presentation to the Ogilvy Young Turk’s Melbourne Chapter. The chapter is a group of young communications professionals who have been identified as potential leaders in the group.

The list below reflects points made in Arden’s book and from Savage’s presentation on the “fundamentals” to point you in the right direction to becoming the leader that you want to be.

1. Energy. It’s 75% of the job. If you haven’t got it, be nice.
2. Lead by example through your actions and words. Set the tone.
3. Always seek to improve yourself and others around you.
4. Take responsibility. Do not promise what you can’t deliver.
5. Be open and share your knowledge and ideas. Do not covet your ideas.
6. Take risks. Be open to change. The person who doesn’t make mistakes is unlikely to make anything.
7. Accentuate the positive. Eliminate the negative.

Now you may be thinking that you tick all of the above. If you are, then you are in a great position to becoming a leader. But please remember these are the foundations to being a leader and being a leader does not necessarily mean that you will be a successful leader.

Experience doesn’t mean that you are a leader either. Experience correlates with seniority in a business. Savage says “Seniority brings with it a level of responsibility and it is a state of mind and level of maturity. This is the foundation to achieving career and financial progress in a business”.

Arden says “Your vision of where and who you want to be is the greatest asset you have“. In your vision, are you a leader?


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