By: Leisa Bulow – December 2015
Is leadership based on charisma or skill? Generally, a little bit of both.
Of course, we can’t all be flamboyant with magnetic personalities, constantly smiling and with nifty motivational quotes to hand all the time. Quite frankly, I think that could be exhausting! But exhibiting self-confidence and not giving up when faced with obstacles does encourage others to look at you in a positive light, and be inspired to try harder themselves.
Don’t get me wrong, not everyone is cut out to lead, and not everyone wants to! But if you feel that this is something you want to work towards, here are a few things to think about, which may give you a boost. Let’s break it down into three main categories – what you know, how you look, and how you act.
The font of all knowledge
Are you an expert in your field? If you are looking to move up in the organisation, I’d bet you probably are. Having a thorough understanding of your role, and how it fits into the business is essential. A strong knowledge of the other roles in your team doesn’t hurt either.
Being able to help others understand how they fit into the scheme of things within the organisation and recognise their worth and contribution will make them see you in a positive light and help you to stand out as a leader. Remember though, you are boosting the person’s view of themselves, not giving the impression you are just toting the company line. Be truthful and excited about the difference they make every day.
Share your knowledge freely. If someone comes to you with questions, be willing to share your understanding and experience. Don’t hoard your knowledge in the fear that by sharing, someone will know as much as you and you will no longer be indispensable, or hold your knowledge over them as a measure of supremacy. Coach and share with those who are truly interested. However, don’t let someone take advantage of you and just use you instead of doing the work themselves. Helping those who are grateful is one thing, doing the work of someone calculating or lazy is another.
Be a role model and demonstrate, not just tell.
Dress for success
We’ve all heard the term “dress for the job you want”, but this needs to be in moderation. Coming to work in a three piece suit tie and polished loafers (because you want to be a CEO) is great, unless you work in the mail room where the standard dress is jeans, t-shirts and sneakers. That doesn’t mean you have to grunge or dress down. You can dress just that little bit more professionally, demonstrating that you are ready to take the next step up, not aggressively take over the masthead (unless you are at that sort of executive level, of course…). A happy medium is not so intimidating to your workmates, but still shows you are ready to advance and still look after their interests.
Walk the talk
Speak up in groups or meetings and make reasonable suggestions. Look for potential answers, and don’t just ask questions or make unreasonable demands, just because you think it makes you look good in the eyes of your peers.
Be approachable when others are looking for your assistance. Snapping at others or being “too busy” will not endear you to anyone. If you have something urgent to complete, ask them if you can talk to them in a half hour (or however long you need) because of your deadline, or give some direction where they may be able to research or find the information in the mean time, then check in with them a bit later to see how they went.
Work on your self-confidence. You need to make a good impression and demonstrate that you believe in yourself and your ideas to have others do the same. This can often be a tough one. However, speak confidently – fake it ‘til you make it if needed – and you’ll earn respect.
Turn negative speech into positive. A leader needs to be inspirational, not a drag. Think about the language you normally use and see if you can practice phrasing it in a different way to bring out a more positive feel and you will see how that makes a difference.
You don’t have to be Tony Robbins or a world renowned motivational speaker, in front of crowds of hundreds or thousands of people; you just have to impress the people that are important to you.
About the Author:
Leisa Bulow is a Learning & Development specialist, with over 25 years’ experience in customer service, sales, training, and leadership and management roles in a diverse range of industries, including retail, banking and finance, government departments and government projects (both state and national), and various corporate private enterprises.
Leisa currently contracts to (or consults in) businesses in her role as a Learning & Development Specialist/Manager and Instructional Designer, providing written and delivered training solutions and online training modules in technical systems training, leadership, customer service, sales, effective communication, team-building, and time management, and other courseware customised to the organisation she is working for.
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