• Jumpstart Your Leadership by JP Kho


    Leadership has been a big word for the past decade, but more so now. Social media and platforms such as TED Talk have increased awareness in this field. But more than that, they have created leaders, speakers, and bestselling authors out of everyday people that would not have been possible ten years ago. 

    All these awareness and even hype about leadership happens for a good reason – our society is changing at a rapid pace. At every point of change, we need leaders to pave the way. 

    You might be thinking, that’s all good for them. They have voices; they have results; they have networks. How about me? How do I find my voice? How can I create my message? How can I start my leadership journey? 

    If you check the profiles of these influencers, you will find that most, if not all of them, have spent the necessary time doing the dirty work of everyday leadership for years. These men and women have developed their leadership day in and day out in the trenches of the real world, with real people, solving real problems. 

    They are earned the right to be called a ‘leader’. You can do it as well. The following steps will help you jumpstart your leadership journey from point A – a point of absolutely no influence, to point B – the point where you can be recognized as a voice of influence in your community. 

    1. ENGAGE (VOLUNTEER)

    Everything great begins with a first step. The same is true for leadership. Somebody once said “To be great, you have to be good. To be good, you have to be bad. To be bad, you have to be the worst first, To be the worst, you first have to try." Leaders experience failures.

    To jumpstart your leadership journey, you have to set up your life in such a way that you will have no choice but to take on a leadership role. 

    Are you part of a company? Volunteer to help out in company activities and events. For example, you can volunteer to help out in your Christmas party event. You can volunteer to help out in your church’s Christmas drive. 

    Are you part of a team? Volunteer to take on additional responsibilities and work – even with work that you’re a beginner of. 

    Are you part of a family? Volunteer to do the dirty work. Volunteer to help out in the grocery or in taking charge of the laundry. 

    Did you see the common word? Volunteer. 

    When you begin to put yourself in a position to serve others, you are gaining not just experience, but respect and influence as well.

    2. REFLECT (FEEDBACK)

    If you actively engage with people, you will surely be able to hone your leadership qualities. However, reflection is the ingredient that will propel your leadership from linear improvements to exponential ones. Think about it this way: 

    Experience x Repetition = Linear Learning
    Experience x Repetition x Reflection = Exponential Learning

    I will never forget what my mentor Dennis Ong used to say – “be busy doing the work that needs to be done, but never too busy that you can’t stop and reflect on what you’ve done”. 

    To grow your leadership qualities, you have to be intentional. Reflection is one of the key things you need to find time to do.

    Reflect on the following questions after every engagement you make:

    • Did I make an impact?
    • What was my vision before the engagement and after the engagement? Did I achieve my original vision and objective?
    • What areas of my engagement did I have difficulty with? People? Time / Energy Management? Communication?
    • Who can mentor me on these areas?
    • What areas of my engagement did I experienced ease with? 
    • How can make my next engagement better?

    Seek feedback. This is one of the keys that successful leaders constantly do. Seek people who have had more success and failure than you and who you can see as an epitome or model of the leader you would want to be. Consider them to be your mentor. 

    Walk them through your life and leadership journey. Allow them to give you constructive feedback and criticism. Use these guide questions:

    • What can you say about my engagement?
    • What did I do well?
    • What can I improve on?
    • If you were me, what would your thinking process be about this engagement?
    • If you were me, how would you do things similarly or differently?

    3. REPEAT

    Repetition will always push you towards perfection. You may not achieve it, and certainly, leadership has dozens of aspects you can practice and work on. However, if you are dedicated to be a great leader, never stop engaging and never stop the reflection. That's the feedback process.

    4. GROWTH

    When you have participated in several engagements and when you have already gained improvements based on your reflection and feedback, it’s time for you to create what John Maxwell may say as a personal growth plan. 

    Again, this is one aspect of leadership that is heavily intentional. After getting the insights from your feedback sessions, can you spot a trend? What are your glaring strengths? What can you work on to complement your strengths? Create a growth plan that:

    Focuses on improving your strengths
    Focuses on improving your weaknesses THAT WILL complement your strengths

    Your growth plan may include planning future engagements or a learning plan that may include books and seminars that focus on the two items above.

    Jumpstarting your leadership journey is not easy, but it is doable. Focus not on being a leader at first, but on being engaged. Don’t neglect taking valuable time out to reflect on your experience, and get trusted mentors to help you see your blind spots. Continue your exposure to leadership experiences. Make sure that along the way, you have a growth path that you will follow to guide you to become the leader you have been designed to be. - JP KHO, 2018
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    JP KHO is an IT Professional for more than 10 years and currently involved with projects that involve multi-national companies such as UNILAB. He's a bookworm as he also sells various books online as a business. Now, he is one of the speakers of Mzone Training under the Underdog Leadership Program. He is a husband and dad of two.

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