Posted on: March 29th, 2017 by Jen Mueller

I love making to-do lists.

Sometimes I write things on my list so that I’ll be able to cross them off.

​​I’m a do-er. It’s how I measure a successful day. I’m really good at getting things done.

What ​I could use is more situational awareness to see what I’m missing around me. Perhaps you’re in the same boat.

I know that sometimes you’ve got to put your head down and work, but if you get too caught up in yourself and your to-do list, you won’t recognize what’s going on around you – including the messages your colleagues are sending.

Before you take that the wrong way and assume they’d only talk to you if they had a problem, consider this – what if they’re actually encouraging you to pursue larger roles? What if they’re trying to tell you they’d like to hear more from you, not less?

One of the guys I work with dealt with this problem a couple years ago. He didn’t lack situational awareness, as much as he let his insecurities drown out the message his colleagues were sending. They wanted him to step up, to be the leader. His colleagues saw potential that he didn’t recognize in himself. He ignored it. Until he finally had to acknowledge it.

“In 2014 I embraced it and it wasn’t just because I started to feel it and embrace it. It was because my team mates were telling me. They were calling me the leader, “The Enforcer.” If you’re a Seattle Seahawks football fan, you might recognize the nickname that belongs to Pro-Bowl Safety Kam Chancellor. His situational awareness on the field is unmatched, but in the locker room it took a little while.

​He can say ‘No’ all he wants, but if he was chosen to be a leader he’s just fighting the inevitable,” said Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner.

Situational awareness doesn’t make you egotistical. It makes you cognizant of what colleagues want from you.

“It’s hard for me to call myself things,” Chancellor said. “I don’t like to do it because it feels like I’m boasting even though it’s not. I just don’t like to do that, but to hear them say over and over I knew it was time to embrace it.”

“If you carry yourself in a way that attracts the right people you’re naturally going to be a leader because people are going to look up to you, be interested in the things you’re doing, and want to imitate and ask questions,” Wagner said. “In that sense that is what leaders are. They’ve got a lot of people who look up to them and want them to help, and I feel that’s really what leaders do, they help.”

Leaders not only need the qualities that draw people to them, but the situational awareness to know when it’s time to step up.

If colleagues are asking you to step into a larger role – get out of your own head and do it. Acknowledge your talent and lead.Kam Chancellor spent years, going back to his middle school days, ignoring the pleas of his teammates and coaches to be a leader. In the end it only delayed becoming becoming one of the most-respected voices in the locker room.

What about you? What kind of feedback have you received from colleagues recently? What comments or compliments have you brushed off in an effort to stay humble? What insecurity keeps you from stepping into larger roles?

​If you want to develop your leadership skills and step into larger rolls, listen to the people around you and take action.

​This is one sports example that translates to a business conversation. I can help you find lots more. Make sure you leave your name in the box marked “Let’s Do This!” to get business communication tips and sports #ConvoStarters delivered right to your inbox.

​Jen Mueller, America’s Expert Talker, serves as the Seattle Seahawks sideline radio reporter and is a member of the Seattle Mariners television broadcast team. She founded Talk Sporty to Me in 2009 and advocates using sports conversations as a business tool. Hire Jen to speak to your company Jen@TalkSportytoMe.com