Regardless of what we call it – Leadership – Managing – Being in charge – Supervising – the fact is when we assemble more than 1 person, there is someone who is leading the effort. For many of us, that is the goal we pursue. For some of us it simply happens whether it’s a goal we sought or not. The thing that is generally common is that in order to assume the role of a leader to people and their work efforts, there are traits that must be present in order to be effective. Leadership qualities can seem illusive to some despite their desires or positions. Just because someone has been put in charge doesn’t necessarily mean that those traits exist. I think that group we might call “bad bosses”.
The good news is that you can develop those leadership traits even if they were not something you were born with. While attending management classes and reading books can all help, the best path to building those qualities is to observe great role models and exhibit those same behaviors.
Here are the leadership qualities that you can begin modeling today:
- Leaders don’t hang back. You will never notice a leader being half committed or reluctant to participate. These people get quickly immersed into whatever the effort is, get knowledgeable and are generous with their skills and knowledge. This means you need to take an active role with the work your group is doing. Look for ways to contribute at a greater level. You may think your existing leader has to do something to “anoint” you with more. Don’t wait: ask.
- Leaders take responsibility. These people are willing to be responsible not only for their work but also for helping others to be successful. When things go wrong, they will step up and own their role and look to the future as an opportunity to improve. Be clear on what the expectations are and then go one step further.
- Leaders have initiative. They don’t wait for someone to figure out what to do. They look to see what needs to be done and do it. Words like self starter come to mind. Can you imagine the president of the US waiting to be told what to do? Look around your work area and find things that need improvement. Take it upon yourself to solve problems that will positively impact the business or create efficiency for your group. It won’t go unnoticed.
- Leaders communicate openly and honestly. Even leaders who are known to be introverts leave nothing to chance or guess. They communicate in various ways in all directions within their group. This trait, perhaps more than others, characterizes all great leaders, because it is within their communication that they can lay out their vision to others. That clarity and consistency can unite people and cause them to lay down their life. The next time someone you admire speaks to you or your group, pay attention to what they say and how they say it. Check yourself for your reactions to what they say and what it is that causes that. There is a thought that you can’t over communicate – start with that premise today.
- Leaders believe in what’s possible. You rarely hear a leader gripe or talk in depressed terms. They tend to think that they and others will succeed. Even in the face of defeat, they learn from it and move forward still with the belief that with enough drive, will and knowledge eventually they will prevail. This isn’t being unrealistic; in fact it’s very founded on good judgment. The secret that some people don’t realize is that failure in business is usually created by not starting, giving up and not seeing options. Today you can start recreating a habit of how you view things. This may be the hardest thing to change or do differently, but positive attitudes truly are powerful.
If you’re eager to be promoted or obtain more responsibility, keep these things in mind and add them to your personal brand. Over time, you will be “seen” as a leader and those opportunities will come your way.