Being a leader is a challenge. It means taking risks, overachieving, taking responsibly for your team and, oftentimes, carrying an enormous amount of weight on your shoulders.
Still, for most of us, being a leader has a certain draw that cannot be ignored. When you’re a leader, you’re the strong one, the one everyone goes to for help, the person in charge– but how does one go about becoming a leader?
There are many ways, but listed below are 7 tried and true steps to becoming a great leader. Use these actions to position yourself as a leader at work without stumbling too much along the way.
1. TAKE RESPONSIBILITY.
One of the unavoidable cornerstones of becoming a great leader is taking responsibility. You’re not just taking responsibility for yourself either. As a LEADer, you are responsible for everything that your team or department or company does, and the results. Have you ever noticed that everyone wants to take responsibility for success, but never for failure? They don’t understand that when you own the problem you own the solution. Besides, how much does a person learn by never admitting a mistake? Leaders tend to be highly experienced and knowledgeable, and everyone knows that you cannot learn if you have not made any mistakes.
2. BE FIRM BUT KIND.
The world may pigeonhole all leaders as heartless, manipulative vampires, but it’s just not true. My father always said “kill them with kindness” and he’s right. People want to listen and help those who treat them like humans, not cattle. Give direction and check up on progress, but always be courteous. You are more likely to get a positive result when you offer encouragement rather than browbeat a coworker or employee into submission. People want to be appreciated and acknowledged, and, in my experience, they are willing to work on living up to higher expectations when they are encouraged by positive reinforcement. The power of positive influence is the power to inspire those around you to greater heights.
3. STAY ON THE CUTTING EDGE.
If you’re uncomfortable, you’re probably doing something right. In order to be a leader, you have to be willing to actually LEAD your team into the future. That means you have to be constantly trying new things. Be willing to risk looking foolish – what do you have to lose? All leaders take risks. They are not without fear, but they are able to move past that fear to do what they believe in. Try taking simple risks like taking on the project no one wants.
4. WALK THE WALK.
The world is full of people who talk too much and never actually do anything. If you want to be a leader, action is an important step. People look up to and respect those who take action, even when they make a mistake.
Keep yourself accountable by writing down any ideas that might be simmering in your mind. If you don’t write it down your ideas and goals, and there is no one present to record the idea. How will it get accomplished? If you want to be a leader, practice accountability.
5. LEARN TO SEE OPPORTUNITIES EVERYWHERE.
How many jobs have you had where the manager or even CEO didn’t lead? Where there’s confusion and inefficiency, there’s need for a leader. The key is learning to see these opportunities and exploit them. Take on a project no one wants, get a head start on a new project or point out an inefficiency at work and propose a solution. If you don’t see opportunities everywhere, you’re not looking.
6. GET FEEDBACK.
It is important to be open to criticism, as it is the best way to understand what kind of an impact your actions are having from an outside perspective. Plus, feedback is a great way to gather ideas from others that are free. Sometimes, these ideas come from people who are smarter than you and can offer tips on how to be more effective. If you learn how to use it, criticism can be an excellent tool! Remember, with no new ideas, a leader dries up.
7. GIVE MORE.
Give it all away. Show your coworkers, your boss, and the world your ideas, thoughts, and plans. No great leaders are shy. You have to feel the vulnerability and learn to like it. Plus, when you pour all your ideas out, it forces you to constantly be generating new ideas. That’s the great thing about creativity, the more you use, the more you have. It enriches you.
Now go forth into the world and become a great leader. Use these 7 steps to conquer your work space and rise up the corporate ladder.
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