Being a leader doesn’t mean you have to be the loudest person in the room, though it certainly helps if you are! Leading doesn’t mean that you always have to have all the answers, and leading isn’t something that can be accomplished by one person alone. If you want to truly succeed at leading others to greatness, then it’s vital that you know these 10 things first.
No. 1: It starts with being yourself
There’s no one right way to be a leader. The best leaders are authentic, and they adapt their styles based on their strengths, values and vision. As you grow as a leader, focus on becoming more of who you really are—not trying to emulate someone else. Remember: Our differences make us great!
No. 2: Don’t underestimate the power of gratitude
Gratitude is one of those things that everyone says makes them happier, but that few people practice. I started keeping a gratitude journal two years ago and it’s made a significant difference in my life. It sounds hokey, but when you regularly take time to count your blessings, you become more mindful of good things that happen every day. Your attitude becomes less pessimistic and your outlook on life is just more positive.
No. 3: Put people first
It’s easy for leaders to get so bogged down in systems and processes that they forget about their team members. Even if you have just one direct report, take time to show them how much you appreciate their efforts by giving individualized feedback on how they can grow. A little personal attention will go a long way. It will also give you an opportunity to find out what your employees want from you as their leader and make any necessary changes in your approach or leadership style.
No. 4: Stand out as yourself
There’s no such thing as my way or the highway. You can be kind without being phony and maintain high ethical standards without being obstinate. Know when it’s OK to share your opinion, but also when it’s best to just go with something if you disagree. It’s OK if not everyone likes you – what matters is how you treat others and getting results.
No. 5: Set personal goals and achieve them
Set personal goals for yourself that are not necessarily related to your career and try to achieve them. Achieve as many of these goals as possible and you will notice how much more motivated and confident you become. Also, make sure that once your goals are met, you set a new goal – don’t fall into a pattern of rest on past success!
No. 6: Have empathy
Empathy is being able to see and understand things from other people’s point of view. As a leader, it’s important to have empathy for others. One good way of developing your own empathy is by reading fiction. By doing so, you can feel what it feels like to be in someone else’s shoes, and see life from their perspective. Fiction also helps develop your imagination, which is essential for leadership. The best leaders are those who are imaginative enough to envision a new future for their organization or industry. It’s impossible to do that without first being able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes.
No. 7: Ask questions rather than give orders
I have always believed that great leaders are also great listeners. Instead of barking orders, ask questions and take note of what your employees tell you. After all, they know their jobs better than you do. So instead of dictating, find out what they really want and help them do it. They will appreciate your approachability more than anything else and so will your business!
No. 8: Look beyond your ego
Have you ever been in a meeting and thought, Ugh, I don’t want to share my opinion right now. More often than not, that type of reaction comes from an inflated ego. Your job as a leader is twofold: first, be open-minded; second, encourage others to speak up. Always focus on collaboration and try hard not to sound boastful or self-absorbed when talking about your accomplishments. Keep things positive by looking for ways to help others succeed. And remember: It’s okay if you make mistakes—as long as you learn from them.
No. 9: Create opportunities for learning
One of the biggest mistakes I see new leaders make is focusing only on their strengths and ignoring any weaknesses. The truth is, we all have areas in which we can improve, so be sure to create opportunities for learning. Not only will these opportunities allow you to become a better leader, but they’ll also help your employees learn new skills and take on new challenges within your organization.
No. 10 : Embrace change and be curious
Leadership is about continuously learning and adapting. Those who do not embrace change are soon left behind. It’s time for you to get curious and learn as much as you can. Read industry magazines, attend conferences, network with others in your field and always have an open mind about how things can be done better or differently. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and take risks – there will always be people around you that want to help.