Six tactics of natural leaders

In this week's Leadership Blog, our coach John M McKee shares six tactics you can use to move up the ladder more quickly.

Ever notice that some people seem to be "natural leaders"? For them, leadership is like wearing clothes that were custom-made.  But most people struggle with the role of leader.  The "fit" isn't comfortable. It shows in their actions, their results and, ultimately, in their careers.

Natural leaders share a secret: They recognize that they need to adjust every time they get new assignments or additional responsibilities. They've learned that "acting" like the leader in their new role will actually help them morph into it. This is one reason why some people move up the food chain quickly. Others, perhaps even those who are even smarter or more devoted, get left behind.

Here are six tactics you can use to improve your career success while building a reputation as a "natural leader":

1. Be clear about your end game - and don't allow anyone to derail you. The best leaders I've worked with always knew what they wanted throughout their careers.  Once they made it to the next step, they readjusted for their "new" end game. 2. First things first - Determine what it's going to take to achieve your end game. Consider assets (human or material), education/training, allies, mentors and liabilities that need to be worked around.  Doing this early on reduces the likelihood of unexpected slowdowns or, worse, derailment. 3. Be proactive. And reactive - As much as possible you want to be in control of your destiny.  Knowing what needs to be done but not having the resources is frustrating and can be a deal killer.  That said, obstacles will be thrown in your way. Be ready with options already contemplated. 4. Think "abundance" - Where some managers see insufficient resources, others see ample.  If you're focused on land grabs or getting even, it will ultimately backfire.  Natural leaders recognize that there is always enough, but some resources may need to be reallocated for the success of their end game. 5. Ask, don't tell - In all aspects of life, the "best" are often described as having great listening skills and also being clear about giving direction. That's not a contradiction in style. Learn it. 6. Continuous renewal - The fastest processor in 2005 looks pretty slow today. It's simply not up to today's expectations.  Don't allow yourself to be seen in that light.  And when you do upgrade yourself, make sure the decision makers are aware of it.

Here's to your future!


Executive leadership coach


John M. McKee is the founder and CEO of, an international consulting and coaching practice with subscribers in 43 countries. One of the founding senior executives of DIRECTV, his hands-on experience includes leading billion d...


No one wants to follow someone who is going to stab them in the back. Being honest with people builds respect that can follow you long after you leave.


The advice sounds a bit like thinking a few moves ahead and being able to react to a change without losing the ability to be proactive in pursuit of goals.


Of course, honesty is a value that we should all hold up as preferable, but I remember reading a study a long, long time ago that showed that children who figured out how to lie early in their lives turned out to be natural leaders in their peer groups. The study theorized that these children were more perceptive of the nature of reality. They'd essentially tasted of the fruit of the knowledge of and evil at a very early age, or they'd reached the age of reason, or, well, you get my point.

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