The leader for today and the future will be focused on how to be — how to develop quality, character, mind-set, values, principles, and courage.
– Frances Hesselbein, President and CEO of the Frances Hesselbein Leadership Institute
Do you have what it takes to be a true leader?
As Frances Hesselbein said, for people who aim to lead, the focus should be more on how to be a true leader rather than on merely thinking about what they do. As the CEO and President of the Girl Scouts of the USA for 13 years, and having penned two books on leadership, Frances is certainly on to something.
Being a true leader is not an easy task. It requires leadership skills that will elevate not just yourself, but the people around you as well. It is not about bossing people around. Rather, it is about making people better that even when you are no longer around, your contribution to the organization – and even the members’ personal lives – will still have a positive impact.
The Leader Within
True leadership stems from within. However, just like a seed, it should be nurtured so it can blossom and flourish. Your leadership potential must be cultivated so you can become the best version of a leader that you can be.
Whether in corporate or social situations, leaders are always needed. A leader’s vision is crucial, but more importantly, it is a leader’s actions that would actually make a difference. What a leader does will influence how he will think, feel, and act to achieve the goals that have been set.
It is worth noting, however, that leaders are not always those who are in lofty positions or in seats of power. Leaders can be found even in the lowest of ranks, in a crowd of nameless faces, or even in the silence of the masses. There are leaders who work quietly, shepherding followers to do what must be done. As the ancient philosopher Lao-Tzu said, “A leader is best when people barely know he exists…when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will all say: We did it ourselves.”
That is why, whether you aim to be a better leader for work or for your own personal development, it is never too late to enhance your leadership qualities. Here are three simple yet effective ways to elevate your leadership potential:
1. Know Yourself
Self-awareness is critical in harnessing your leadership potential. You need to know who you are, where you stand, and what you want to be able to map out your leadership journey.
Are you a person of integrity? Do you value honesty? Where does your moral compass lie? These are just some of the questions that can help you evaluate yourself. The answers can then lead you to ways that can help improve yourself.
Another factor about self-awareness is also about how people perceive you. Do you come across as arrogant or cold? Do you have work habits that can be off-putting for some? You can ask your close colleagues or human resources for help when it comes to your personality assessment. This way, you can also change if that is what it needs to be more productive in what you do.
2. Create Connections
How do you communicate with others? Do your social interactions bring about affirmative change? Do you know how to effectively bring your message across?
You need to be able to establish rapport with your team or with the people that you need to work with. Creating positive connections will ensure that you share a common thread and that you can work together towards the same direction or goal.
You can offer to help someone out. You could lend a hand to other colleagues outside of your department. Share your knowledge that will make the team’s work easier and more productive. If you have any particular hobbies or talents, volunteer to use them during social occasions or company events. Get out there and create valuable connections that will be beneficial not only to you, but to the whole group.
Effective communication is also key when you want to create connections. Check how you express yourself and see how you can improve your communication skills. Being a good leader is not just about talking and giving directions. It is also about being able to really listen and taking other people’s ideas into consideration to come up with a unified and effective solution.
3. Go for Your Goals
Have you ever wondered why you seem to be working so hard, but you still aren’t getting the plum positions? Could it be that you aim to be a leader, but are not putting in the necessary work to be considered as one?
When you have your sights set on leadership roles, then you have to go and grab opportunities that will highlight your leadership qualities. In this fast-paced world, you cannot just sit around and wait. Do something that will show how passionate you are in your work, take on new tasks that will show your leadership qualities, or spearhead projects that can contribute to the greater good.
Do not just wait for chances to be handed to you. Create opportunities for growth. Look for professional short courses or training programs that can improve your leadership or management skills. There are a variety of professional development programs that can also give certifications, and these will add value to your career portfolio.
Lead the Way
If you want to be a good leader, you cannot just twiddle your thumbs waiting for the opportunity to arise. You have to nurture it within you so your leadership potential will grow and bear fruit.
Continually find ways to improve yourself. Think like a leader, have a heart of a good leader, and act how a true leader should – with compassion for others, as someone who lifts people up or bring them together. Find your footing and start leading the way.
Get in touch with us at REI today to begin your leadership development journey.