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So You’re Not The Boss? Here’s How You Can Still Be A Leader.

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So You’re Not The Boss? Here’s How You Can Still Be A Leader.

Are leaders born or are they developed? It’s a subject that’s long been debated.

And in the workplace, can an employee who holds no supervisory job title be an effective leader — before being entrusted with managing people? 

Grant Parr, a mental sports performance coach, says yes — and adds that it’s almost mandatory if someone hopes to be ready as a leader when promoted to a bigger role in an organization.

“Leadership is a choice,” says Parr (www.gameperformance.com), author of The Next One Up Mindset: How To Prepare For The Unknown. “It’s not a title, position, or rank. You don’t have to be a department head, manager or CEO to be a leader.”

“Leadership is a group of characteristics, and you can acquire them even if you’re not the boss. You’ll never be a leader when you assume that prime time role unless you have developed the qualities of leadership as part of your preparation for the next big step.”

Parr offers five ways to become a leader at a company without holding a leadership-type position:

Listen to others’ ideas. “Leadership is about others, not about the self, and it starts with listening,” Parr says. “Being a leader isn’t putting yourself above others, interrupting them, or acting like your ideas are more important than anyone else’s. True leadership brings out the best in others and your culture, and you do that by making them feel valued and giving them a voice.”

Be accountable for mistakes. “Own your errors,” Parr says. “It sets an example of accountability that is good for the culture. Too many people, when told of a mistake, assign blame and make excuses. A leader corrects constructively and surveys for solutions. As a subordinate, staying positive and offering ways to fix your mistake, and showing the humility of asking for help, is a path toward being a leader people can trust.”

Learn flexibility. “This applies in so many ways,” Parr says. “If you’re stuck on doing something one certain way, you’re headed toward being a micromanager who few would like and fewer would want to work under. Leadership is about tapping into your broad base of workplace talent, expanding knowledge, improving systems and raising the ceiling.”

Interact and network. Networking isn’t only about finding jobs, it’s about connecting with people in a way that enhances important relationships and the work environment. “As you learn to interact with different types in the workplace,” Parr says, “you’ll learn which relationships are most effective, how to help those people with their career, and show your ability to direct and lead.” 

Develop a thick skin. To become a leader, Parr says it’s vital to rise above annoyances and petty slights from others and let them roll off your back. “HR isn’t the principal’s office,” he says, “and if you vent every time about someone doing something irritating, you’ll get the reputation of being a whiner. Don’t complain behind closed doors, gossip, or criticize people behind their backs. No one who does those things can be viewed as a leader.”

“People want to be led,” Parr says. “But they don’t want to be bossed around. Great leaders can learn this as underlings on their way to a management position. Then when they get there, they’re ahead of the game — and everyone’s in step with them.”

Grant Parr (www.gameperformance.com) is a mental sports performance coach and the author of The Next One Up Mindset: How To Prepare For The Unknown. Parr owns and runs GAMEFACE PERFORMANCE, a consulting firm that enhances mental skills for athletes and coaches. A recruiter and sales leader in the corporate world for 17 years, he now works with a wide variety of athletes including Olympians, professionals, collegians and high school athletes. His podcast, 90% Mental, provides a window into a broad range of athletes’ and coaches’ mental games and shares their insights around mental performance.

5 Tips For Going From Bench Player To Star In The Business World

Sports history is filled with the heroics of substitute players coming off the bench and playing a big role in a victory.

Likewise, in the working world, being a dedicated and consistent role player can prepare someone for a promotion that entails bigger responsibilities. The key, as in sports, is being ready when called upon.

“Understanding and fulfilling your role as you await your opportunity is a critical aspect of truly growing so you are prepared to make good on that opportunity when it happens,” says Grant Parr (www.gameperformance.com), a mental sports performance coach and the author of The Next One Up Mindset: How To Prepare For The Unknown.

“Athletics is filled with role players ready to meet the demands and the game speed of competition. The mental preparation is equally important in the workplace for those aspiring to climb the ladder and be continually successful.”

Parr offers five ways to spend time wisely while waiting in the wings and how to be well-prepared for the next, bigger opportunity:

Maximize your role. The path to promotion, Parr says, starts with the right mindset in lower positions. “Training the mind for success is essential,”  Parr says. “It begins with fully understanding and embracing your role. Doing that consistently gets you ready for the next one. Your role will be what you make of it — a launchpad for future success and a support to others while you learn, or a holding pattern leading toward stagnation and frozen development.”

Set achievable goals and commit. “How you approach your goals matters,” Parr says. “You need to write them down, including all the tasks required to accomplish them, and you need to visualize the feeling of reaching them.”

Remove negatives. “These invariably come up,” Parr says. “Be aware of the obstacles, people, and thought processes that can derail you, demotivate and distract you from making the most of your opportunity. That way, when those things appear, you are prepared to manage them and stay on track.”

Lead and set an example. “In sports, always being one of the first to practice and among the last to leave, and being the one who always encourages others — all those qualities stick in your teammates’ minds as a disciplined, winning example they can count on,” Parr says. “In the business world, your chances of reaching the next level are greatly enhanced when you exemplify a team-first, cheerful attitude on a daily basis, always being helpful to the levels above you as well as your own team, and going the extra mile.”

Study good examples/role models. It certainly helps in sports, and the corporate office is no different, Parr says, when it comes to the benefits of learning from mentors or reading up on achievers who had humble beginnings. “Watch, listen to, read, and learn from the advice and experiences of those who have excelled,” Parr says.

“Moving up in the world entails lots of things that can knock you down,” Parr says. “Embracing your role, whatever it is, means embracing the struggle to get where you want to go. You are working toward something higher, preparing for the unknown, and it requires diligence and commitment.”

Grant Parr (www.gameperformance.com) is a mental sports performance coach and the author of The Next One Up Mindset: How To Prepare For The Unknown. Parr owns and runs GAMEFACE PERFORMANCE, a consulting firm that enhances mental skills for athletes and coaches. A recruiter and sales leader in the corporate world for 17 years, he now works with a wide variety of athletes including Olympians, professionals, collegians and high school athletes. His podcast, 90% Mental, provides a window into a broad range of athletes’ and coaches’ mental games and shares their insights around mental performance. 

Score a Workplace Win with These 5 Traits of Successful Athletes

When Tiger Woods thrilled the sports world by winning The Masters golf tournament, many golf experts and fans viewed his triumph as inspirational.

After all, the 43-year-old Woods demonstrated not just athletic skills, but also mental strength that allowed him to overcome declining physical prowess and years of adversity that included a sex scandal, divorce and numerous back and knee surgeries.

For high-performing athletes, that’s not so unusual because mental attitude is often critical to success in sports. But the same can be true in the workplace for those willing to learn from the practices of athletes and apply them in their own lives, says Grant Parr (www.gameperformance.com), a mental sports performance coach and the author of The Next One Up Mindset: How To Prepare For The Unknown.

The key, Parr says, is to be prepared when big opportunities arrive – sometimes unexpectedly, as it did for Woods.

“Many of the demands we face at work are not so different than those faced by high-caliber athletes,” Parr says.“The need for mental toughness in the face of chaos and adversity is similar.

“But what happens when a big moment is at hand, like a promotion, and people aren’t ready for it? What did they not do to be properly prepared? The world is filled with unexpected opportunities for greatness, and there are processes that athletes and people in all types of positions can execute to get prepared for that moment.”

Parr focuses on five areas where athletic examples can be applied toward readiness and success in the workplace:

Applying grit in the face of adversity. “Handling adversity starts with being flexible,” Parr says. “Take difficult people you have to deal with; you must be able to adapt and adjust, know when to let things roll off your back and when to stand your ground. Or when you’ve missed your sales quota, you lose key people, etc., the stress can be enormous. These are times you have to rely on your inner warrior and draw on your past examples of strong mental performance.” 

Turning crisis into opportunity. Some athletes are summoned to a bigger role because the performer in front of them is ineffective or hurt. “Can you see opportunity when everyone else sees uncertainty?” Parr asks. “When others react with fright, you can choose mental might.”

Embracing your role.  Every team requires people who fulfill their roles. Part of embracing your role is recognizing that the team’s needs are bigger than your own. “Rock your role, and people will notice,” Parr says. “But keep aspiring, studying the practices of those in higher roles, and you’ll be fully prepared for advancement when it comes.” 

Visualizing success. So critical to success in sports, visualizing success is just as vital in business. “See the performance as you wish it to go,” Parr says. “See yourself performing with energy and confidence; pump yourself up with positive talk.” 

Assuming leadership. “Doing your best, showing enthusiasm and trustworthiness help establish a culture that lifts everyone up,” Parr says. “Showing leadership when you don’t have a formal title allows you to develop the skills you’ll need when an opportunity arises and offers evidence you’re the one to fulfill that opportunity.”

“You may wait 10 or more years for a big opportunity, or it may come suddenly,” Parr says. “But if you’re not ready mentally, that opportunity will pass you by.”

About Grant Parr 

Grant Parr (www.gameperformance.com) is a mental sports performance coach and the author of The Next One Up Mindset: How To Prepare For The Unknown. Parr owns and runs GAMEFACE PERFORMANCE, a consulting firm that enhances mental skills for athletes and coaches. A recruiter and sales leader in the corporate world for 17 years, he now works with a wide variety of athletes including Olympians, professionals, collegians and high school athletes. His podcast, 90% Mental, provides a window into a broad range of athletes’ and coaches’ mental games and shares their insights around mental performance.