chevron-down Created with Sketch Beta.

4 Mind Tricks That Transform Followers Into Leaders

By Avery Blank
Becoming a leader

Becoming a leader

This article was originally published on Forbes.


I help people advocate for themselves and leverage opportunities.

Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

A reader shared with me: “So far my whole life has been defined by getting good grades and how well I can follow instructions at work. I am ambitious and smart but still found myself last night panicking and thinking, ‘How do I make the switch from being a follower to a leader?’”

Leadership starts with how you think. That’s right. You can begin becoming a leader without saying or doing anything. When you start thinking like a leader, you start acting like one. These four steps will help you quickly move from follower to leader and advance in your career:

1. Be confident in what you know, and don’t sweat what you don’t know.

Leaders are confident. They believe in themselves. You do not have to know everything, but you need to be confident in what you know and do. First Lady Michelle Obama said, “your success will be determined by your own confidence and fortitude.”

Want to feel confident within a matter of minutes? Learn to strike what Harvard Business School Professor Amy Cuddy calls the “power pose.” Find a private place like a bathroom, your office or your room at home. Stand tall, and place your hands on your hips like Superwoman. This posture of confidence can influence how you feel about yourself and your success.

Embrace what you don’t know. Founder and CEO of Spanx Sara Blakely found out that “what you don’t know can be your greatest asset if you let it.” Blakely was confident in her hosiery idea but did not know industry practices, which led her to innovate and develop a first-in-class product.

2. Focus on the outcome, not the steps.

When it comes to completing projects, leaders focus on the outcome. They do not get hung up on the details or the steps to get there. If you make a mistake along the way, so be it. Leaders learn from their mistakes and use this information to achieve their goal.

Employees at Etsy, the online marketplace for crafts and handmade goods, are encouraged to share their mistakes with others so colleagues can learn from them. They are focused on the outcome and not worried about taking a misstep if the information or lessons learned help them get closer to their goal.

3. Think about what is wrong, not what is going right.

Leaders focus on solving problems and how to make things better. They are transformational and proactive. To increase retention, for example, stop focusing on how to enhance perks that are already great and focus on solutions to what might be a broken on-boarding process or insufficient training.

Don’t know of a problem to tackle? Consider your company’s goals. Are there any impediments that you notice or foresee? You might have the answer to streamlining a laborious process or cutting costs on what is becoming an expensive project.

4. Concentrate on what you want, not on what you have.

Leaders know what they want out of their careers and lives. Focusing on your aspirations will lead you to them. Think of a ouija board: How does the planchette (the heart shaped game piece) move? Cognitive scientist Tom Stafford says, “There is no supernatural force at work, just tiny movements you are making without realizing.” What directs your movements is your focus on a particular outcome. The planchette will move where you want it to move.

You make your own destiny.

What do you want to move towards? Do you aspire to start your own company, be a thought leader on innovation, run the engineering department of the company or be the President of the United States? Michael Dell, the founder and CEO of Dell says, “You don’t have to be a genius or a visionary or even a college graduate to be successful. You just need a framework and a dream.” Your dream will lead you to what you want to be.

How have you switched from follower to leader? Share with me your stories and thoughts in the comments section below or via Twitter or LinkedIn.

Avery Blank is a millennial strategist, lawyer, and women’s advocate who helps others to strategically position and advocate for themselves to achieve their individual and organization goals.