Act Like A Leader

Awhile back, Herminia Ibarra released her latest book, Act Like A Leader, Think Like A Leader.

Contrary to popular opinion, Ibarra argues that you have to act your way into a new type of leadership thinking instead of thinking your way into it. And to do this, you need to develop and practice outsight (versus insight).

To do that, you should:
  1. Redefine your job to make time for more strategic work and more work outside your function, unit and even organization.
  2. Diversify your network so that you connect to and learn from a bigger range of stakeholders.
  3. Get more playful with your sense of self so that you allow yourself to experiment with styles of behaving that go against your nature.
"Doing things -- rather than simply thinking about them -- will increase your outsight on what leadership is all about," explains Ibarra.

Here are three ways to do things at your office tomorrow:
  1. Sign up for one new project, task-force, professional association or extracurricular professional activity that takes you a bit outside your usual area of expertise.
  2. Reach out to three people in your company you always wanted to get to know and ask them for lunch or coffee.
  3. Identify two people whose leadership you admire and start watching them closely. What do they do especially well? Try to adopt some of what they do.
And, when you diversify your network, Ibarra explains that you will be using networking as an essential leadership tool by:
  • Sensing trends and seeing opportunities
  • Building ties to opinion leaders and talent in diverse areas
  • Working collaboratively across boundaries to create more value
  • Avoiding groupthink
  • Generating breakthrough ideas
  • Obtaining career opportunities
Finally, to act like a leader, Ibarra recommends you:
  • Let go of performance goals that can diminish how much we're willing to risk in the service of learning.
  • Allocate less time to what you do best to devote more time to learning other things that are also important.
Ibarra's book includes many useful self-assessments.

Ibarra is the Cora Chaired Professor of Leadership and Learning at INSEAD, and author of, Working Identity: Unconventional Strategies for Reinventing Your Career.


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