I recently had the honor of participating on a graduate school alumni panel. This was my chance to give back, by sharing some advice with the incoming students of the various graduate programs offered by the business school. Standing in front of a room full of future M-somethings, I answered questions about why I pursued an MBA, how I made the most of the program, and how my degree prepared me for the role I have today.
Most of these questions were shared with me in advance, so that means I had prep time to craft what I hoped would be thoughtful answers. Half way into it, I thought things were going well.
But then, the discussion moderator, Peter, threw the panel members a curve-ball. He announced that he had an impromptu question for each of us. What was he thinking?! There’s nothing quite like a little improvisation in front of a few dozen eager graduate students, with their eyes locked on your position.
Leaving me very little time to produce a response, Peter asked, “Alan, what advice do you have for aspiring leaders?” Peter directed this question at me in particular, because he knows that I spend a lot of my time thinking about, talking about, and trying to teach leadership to both students in an academic environment and business leaders in a corporate setting. Surely one should expect me to have a great answer, right!?
I jokingly responded, “That’s a great question, Peter. Do we have an hour to really dig into it?” I hoped it was not obvious to the audience that I was only buying time with this initial response while I thought up my real answer. With a straight face, Peter said, “I’ll give you two minutes.” This was serious business.
In my favor, everyone laughed. But, when the laughter died down, they just stared at me, waiting for an answer. My mind churned quickly.
Advice for Aspiring Leaders
In three seconds, here’s what I came up with:
– Be the best follower you can be
– Be authentic
– Learn how to get work done through others
1. To be a great leader, one must first be a great follower. I say this because I believe many of the qualities that are desirable in a leader are the very same qualities we look for in our followers. So, there is a thin line separating the two, and if you can’t be a great follower, you may ultimately struggle as a leader.
Read the rest here: http://leadchangegroup.com/3-secrets-of-great-leadership-in-3-seconds/