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Becoming a Leader... with Identity

Our focus determines our behaviors. This much is clear. What determines our focus? Well, that is the million-dollar question that all leaders have sought to answer over the years. In our book, IMBAR: The Pathway of Transformation, we provide a simple formula that starts with designing an Identity and Mindset to create this focus which will then, in turn, create the behaviors, actions, and results that you desire.

For individual contributors, understanding, adopting, and leveraging this formula can provide strategic steps to create the career you desire. By specifically identifying the results you want and working backward through the IMBAR pathway, you can put the necessary steps in place to achieve them. Below is that formula:

Define your desired “R.”

  • What is the result that you want? Is there a role or position on the team that you are seeking? Define this result with specific clarity.

Define your necessary “A” to deliver the “R.”

  • What actions will produce the result? These are the actions you must deliver and actions that others need to provide. This could be getting recognized for delivering a quality product or service or being known as a mentor or leader within your peer group.

Define your necessary “B” to deliver the “A.”

  • What behaviors will produce the actions? These are the specific things you must do that will create the actions of those around you. This could be leading special projects, heading up team calls, organizing team activities, or taking the initiative to provide feedback and coaching to those on your team who are less experienced.

Define your necessary “M” to deliver the “B.”

  • What mindset will you need to possess that will create the behaviors? Thinking and feeling like a leader is an initial step that is needed to drive the behaviors of a leader. Often, you will feel apprehensive and doubtful about your skills, so start small to deliver initial successes and build positive momentum.

Define your necessary “I” to deliver the “M.”

  • Define the identity to create the mindset. Be very clear in your own mind that you are a leader. Official titles have nothing to do with being a leader. Set your bar higher than the boss sets for you. Look at yourself as the “top leader in the company.” That identity will give you a specific lens to view your role and, in turn, will establish the mindset and behaviors that you will need.

IMBAR provides a simple pathway to create your future, starting with being fully aware of your current and desired future state. It takes strategic and consistent focus, which begins by defining and executing these steps. Aligning your identity with the result you seek is critical to producing the result you want. If you want to move into a leadership role, you must "become" the leader... before you "are" the leader. It needs to be your identity to your core, and your mindset must reflect it in everything you do.

Put a plan in place to gain the help of others. Be open to feedback from your supervisor and peers. Ask for guidance and listen openly to the coaching. Take time to process that feedback and use it to build your IMBAR. Being honest with yourself is critical to your evolution and growth in your career. And then... go for it!

*Listen to our podcast discussion on this topic here:


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