You have people skills. You were bossy as a kid and that has translated into self-confidence. You are bold and assertive – unafraid to speak up. You don’t seek the approval of others. You are good at being in control and it’s easy for you to step in where you are needed. You want to lead people to be successful, but…you’re not the boss. So now what?
With intention, dedication and practice, you can develop and hone your natural leadership skills to empower your inner CEO and open up a world of career (and life) possibilities!
Be your own best example.
Closely watch people in positions of authority whom you respect and want to emulate. What are their values? What are their habits? How do they treat people around them? Decide what being a leader looks like, and start doing those things.
Put your people skills to use. If you work in an office environment, get to know everyone you come into contact with. The door man, the security guard, parking lot attendants — all the way up to the executive level. Be visible and be authentic in your interest and care for people.
If you work remotely, get out of your space. Attend networking events and grow your circle of influence. Introduce people you meet to others and help them grow their circles, too.
Find a mentor.
Reach out to someone within your organization that you look up to – preferably someone who can introduce you to people at the top. Take an interest in them and ask them questions about their careers and ambitions. Ask them about the struggles they’ve had and how they have overcome. Share with them your goals and ask for feedback and suggestions.
Become an expert.
No matter what your job or task is, do it exceptionally. Be the person that others go to when they need help. Change with your environment and stay ahead of trends by learning from leaders in your field. Read books, listen to podcasts and practice new and better ways to get your job done.
Be an encourager.
Make a decision not to talk about people. Earn trust and respect by not participating in gossip. Have a positive impact on your company culture.
Observe the people around you and compliment them when you see them doing something well. Highlight their skills and talents to their peers and their supervisors.
Collaborate with individuals and teams rather than competing over tasks, projects, and accounts.
Commit to better communication.
In a modern world full of jargon and emoticons where people struggle more and more to connect with one another, make it a point to communicate well. Take time to think about what you want to say in a way it will be well received. Listen with the intent to understand the perspective of others. In person, make eye contact and avoid distractions (emails, texts, social media notifications). If what you have to say is written, read it several times before hitting send. Read it as though you are on the receiving end.
Confront conflict well.
In every situation, remain grounded, calm and in control (of your reactions). Breathe before you speak – it will almost always slow things down and diffuse volatile situations. Have a sense of humor and be able to see the brevity in everything. Remember not to take things personally!
Be brave enough to hear feedback.
Be brave enough to offer feedback, as long as it’s helpful.
Own your mistakes.
Be a person who can be held accountable. If you make a mistake, own up to it. Not only admit to the fault, but apologize authentically and do what it takes to make up for it. If you can correct something, do it. If you can’t, work hard to earn back any trust you have lost.
Growth as a leader, if you are serious about it and committed to it, never stops.
“Before you become a leader, success is all about growing yourself. After you become a leader, success is about growing others.” – Jack Welch (CEO, General Electric)
Over time, people will see that you are set apart. They will see that you are focused, consistent and go out of your way for the good of the organization and those around you. Step up, step out and lead.