Executive author and engineer Jack Welch once said, “Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.”
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It takes a special set of skills to be an impactful and productive leader. While some people are born with special strengths in these areas, others hone their skills through hard work and continued self-reflection.
Whether you’re a leader now who is seeking to grow within this role or you just aspire to be a leader in the future, developing leadership qualities is the key to ultimately being successful. Develop the leader inside of you by actively working to embody these qualities.
People won’t follow you if you don’t believe they will. It is critical for leaders to be confident in both their ability to lead and their ability to create sound plans and solutions. This quality can be a difficult one to get just right, however, as excessive confidence can come across as arrogance, which will cause those who would follow you to disengage.
To retain just the right level of confidence, you must continually evaluate people’s response to your projected confidence level and adjust accordingly.
People won’t willingly follow someone they don’t respect. Yes, employees may follow your lead out of a fear of losing their jobs even if they don’t see you are a reasonable and likable person, but they won’t truly commit to following your lead.
One important part of getting employees to like and follow you is to be honest. If those following you come to see that you can’t be trusted, they’ll disengage from you as a leader.
No matter how amazing you are, not everyone will like you. If you want to be a respected leader, however, it’s helpful if most people like you. People are naturally predisposed to follow those who they like and respect.
By remaining likable and approachable, you naturally encourage the development of bonds and relationships. The more endeared your followers become to you as a person, the more committed they will be to you and your mission.
To be a successful leader, you have to be keenly aware of what is going on in the organization that you’re leading. It is easy to get overwhelmed and bury your head in the sand, assuming that everything is going well just because you haven’t heard any voiced complaints.
Following this path is dangerous, however. Even though it can be painful, you need to remain highly aware of what is happening within your organization – good, bad or ugly. Not only does remaining aware allow you to respond more appropriately and quickly, it also shows employees that you’re intelligent, involved and attuned.
To be a successful leader, you have to know what you’re talking about. Employees don’t want to follow someone who they feel is intellectually inferior. If you appear to be less capable than those under your charge, they won’t be as willing to buy in to your ideas or follow through with your plans. Retaining competence takes continued effort.
Skills that make you competent today won’t make you competent tomorrow. As a leader, you must always stay abreast of new changes in your industry to ensure that you’re as knowledgeable as the just-out-of-college individuals who join your team.
Leading is busy business. Often times, there will seem to be an almost insurmountable pile of things to which you need to attend. As a leader, you must possess the ability to focus on the most important things.
If you allow yourself to become overwhelmed, you participate in the establishment of a culture of panic, which will naturally lead to inefficiency and disorganization. By remaining cool, confident and focused, you can make the tasks seem manageable no matter how large in number and size they may be.
Regardless of how hard you try, you won’t be able to make everyone happy all the time. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t put yourself in the shoes of your employees. By developing your ability to empathize, you give yourself amazing power.
When you’re a highly responsive empathizer, you can not only evaluate potential changes more effectively – by clearly considering the impact on your employees – but you can also better anticipate problems that may arise when changes occur because you’ll have already considered the situation from the perspective of your employees.
The strongest leaders are naturally innovative. By developing a strong sense of curiosity, you encourage yourself and those who are following you to seek out new ideas, solutions and processes. This is critical to growing a strong business, creating a meaningful change and producing an innovative product.
It is most vital that you work to maintain your curiosity when you become exceptionally busy. When you’re overwhelmed, it becomes easy to just do what needs to be done and not seek to innovate or improve. If you give in to this, you create a situation in which you and those who follow you stagnate.
If you want people to adopt and follow your vision, you need to communicate it effectively. By developing your communication skills, you’ll be able to make your point understood and effectively persuade people who might have initially be hesitant to follow you.
The most adept communicators are continually monitoring their audience and adjusting their message in response to their audiences’ apparent opinions about the message. When you develop the ability to do this, you’ll truly be able to control a room.
It is almost certain that all is going to seem lost at some point in time. The way you handle yourself as a leader in these times is absolutely critical. Even though it may seem that everything is falling down around you, you must retain optimism and confidence.
The example you set for those under you will have a major impact on the way in which they behave in these situations. By remaining optimistic, you can send a positive message that makes those following you truly believe that things will turn around for the better.
Even though some people might not like to admit it, being a leader is scary. As a leader, you’ll be tasked with making critical decisions. You’ll have to walk on a tightrope, knowing that just one misstep could lead to imminent disaster. You will be scared from time to time, but you can’t allow this fear to influence your decisions or lead you to opt for inaction over innovation.
To truly be a transformative and impactful leader, you must possess the courage to overcome this natural fear. You must be willing to lead your followers down the path that you think is best, knowing all the while that the other path you left unexplored might have been just as effective.