How to Excel As an Emerging Leader

by | Leadership

The verb “emerge” has more than one meaning. Emerge can mean simply to surface as a sea mammal surfaces from the ocean for breath and then returns. On the other hand, emerge can equal a moving out front, a soaring far beyond the surface. The challenge within law enforcement is to develop emerging leaders who do not merely surface, but soar in relationship to leadership skills. For some emerging leaders, all that occurs is a surfacing. Often this looks like one who has task experience but no leadership experience. This emerging leader feels awkward, and views a new leadership position from a puzzling perspective. The emerging leader who excels enters new leadership opportunities with confidence, clarity, and preparation.
​Emerging leaders are more likely to excel when they function with a power of three: a beneficial direction of thinking, a firm discipline in approach, and a genuine delight in journey. With over 30 years of experience, I have isolated 10 traits that will be found in emerging leaders who excel:

1. The acceptance of responsibility for their growth. They hold themselves accountable.
2. Emerging leaders pay the preparation price.
3. Emerging leaders turn to an army of allies for support.
4. They benefit of an arsenal of resources.
5. They understand that learning is a process involving the gaining, application, and sharing of knowledge.
6. They discover, early on, the power of example – that expectation minus example equals exasperation.
7. They celebrate incremental “finished-ness.” If they are working on impatience, they celebrate one moment when they chose to be patient rather than impatient.
8. There is a passion within them. They consider themselves difference-makers. Work is not something they have to endure. Work is to be enjoyed.
9. Emerging leaders who excel recognize that they continue to grow. Their past performance does not have to indicate their future results.
10. They perceive themselves as a choice-people. They believe that choices create circumstances, change circumstances, and confirm circumstances.

​Several years ago I wrote Like a Pelican in the Desert: Beyond Awkwardness: Leadership Redefined. This book states that if emerging leaders do not continue to study and evolve, if they are not supported by the example of established leaders, they may feel like a pelican in the desert – like a waterbird in a dry barren spans of land. Emerging leaders do not have to feel out of place. Awkwardness and anxiety need not be their habitat. The world in which they live can be filled with clarity and anticipation. They have to take it to the power of three: direction, discipline, and delight.

Stephen is the best-selling author of 26 books, including What Do They See When They See You Coming? He has also written countless articles for a variety of publications and has produced multiple audio books and video programs. He has appeared on PBS Television and XM Sirius Satellite Radio. He continues to hold one of the highest invite-back ratios in the speaking profession.