If leaders are made and not born, then you should start making changes right now if you want to become a leader someday. Becoming a leader is a process you’ll have to undergo by grabbing opportunities that give you a shot at taking a lead role. Here’s how you can turn the cards in your favor.
Volunteer, raise your hand, have your say. People won’t notice your potential to become a leader if you perpetuate the image of a shrinking violet. Be available for activities that show off your skills and what you can do well.
Don’t wait to be told.
If you see an opportunity where your service, skill or talent can be put to good use, don’t wait for an invitation. Roll up your sleeves and dig in. People appreciate a person who doesn’t have to be told what to do.
There’s one thing you should remember when volunteering and that is proper positioning. Try to assume roles that will be great stepping stones towards opportunities that will offer more responsibilities and potential for leadership in the future.
If you get stuck and become associated with positions that offer no advancement, it could take you a long time to become a leader, if at all. Go for opportunities that will expand your role and expose you to more challenging tasks.
You can’t be your own island if you want to grab opportunities to become a leader. Go out there, meet people and seek out the ones you can learn from. Leaders are great at picking their relationships so you should learn early on how to pick the right people who can help you assume a leadership role in the future. Learn from a mentor, if you must.
Create your own opportunities.
You can’t hope to grab opportunities as a leader by simply sitting on your desk within the four corners of your room each day of the week. Go out there and find out where the action is. Be in the thick of things. If you have the right kind of exposure, you create a buzz about your leadership potential so next time there’s a need to elect the head of a team, your name will be recognizable to more people.
By exposing yourself to opportunities, you increase your chances of learning new things and finding out about changes. This will help you keep track of new developments and let you impose immediate changes should they be necessary. Don’t let these great opportunities to become a leader pass you by.
If you’ve ever studied philosophers and political scientists, you might have encountered many thought leaders. These were learned scholars and speakers in their fields who espoused a new thought, encouraged change, and actually altered the ways that people perceived the world. In this world so well-wired and steeped in technology, you might think that we no longer need thought leaders to guide us on our way.
As long as there are humans to think, however; and as long as human nature remains the way it is, thought leaders will always be needed. In fact, the world of Web 2.0 encourages thought leaders to thrive: blogs, online diaries, and the ease of making one’s own website to reach out to the world can further foster the spirit of camaraderie and communication that can give birth to great thought leaders. The spirit of free speech and welcome opinion-giving online, moreover, can help thought leaders rise to the top faster.
You may be dreaming of being such a leader: one who can change the world with his or her thoughts, and one who can espouse a new mode of thinking that can help people get through this wired world. If you dream about being such a leader, then you will need to get all your writing materials together because you have a lot of documenting to do!
Being a thought leader begins with a thought; and getting a good thought in your head means that you should observe society in general. Go through as many resources as you can: read the newspaper, read news on the Internet, observe how people write or express their opinions, observe stock market trends, and stay updated on current literature.
There are many ways for you to go right in observing society, but there is only one way to go wrong. Never isolate yourself from it. You might think that a personal treat can help you see the situation from the outside, but this shouldn’t stop you from being a part of society and understanding what makes it tick.
Carry a notebook and pen with you wherever you go. Great ideas can strike you at the least predictable times, so be ready to document the ideas. You may also need to keep a blog so that you can write your ideas down. A blog can also give people access to your ideas, so make sure that you market your blog relentlessly. Post ideas on other blogs that espouse your own ideas, and join groups or forums that you can participate in and share your blog with.
Lastly, engage in idea discussions offline. There’s no better way to get more ideas than by stimulating your brain.
Respect is something most people pursue but don’t always get. Sometimes it’s imposed upon certain individuals by virtue of their birth, circumstance or authority but for the rest of us, respect is something we have to earn. If this is one of your goals, here are ways you can use to gain other people’s respect and improve your leadership:
You sow what you reap.
If you must earn other people’s respect, show them respect. It’s easy for professional and personal relationships to crumble when the foundation isn’t built on mutual respect. If you want to gain respect but don’t want to give it, forget your dream. You can only lead people on for a short while, after which you will have to show that you truly deserve the respect they give you.
Maintain a good set of values.
Despite appearances, people still admire and applaud values. Values stand for what you believe in and what you’re willing to fight for. Strong values indicate strong leadership.
If and when things don’t come out the way you planned, don’t be quick to point fingers and place blame. Analyze the events that contributed to the situation and impose corrective action. By rolling up your sleeves and focusing on what can be done, you come across as a take-charge leader, not a small-time snitch.
Be the example.
Be the role model for whatever it is you expect from your people. Start with simple things – come early to work if you want people to do the same or be enthusiastic about projects if you want people to feel the same way.
By loyalty, we don’t refer to blind obedience. Loyalty is about nurturing sincerity, honesty and dedication to something, whether it’s a person, a group, an organization or an ideal. Loyalty isn’t about clinging to the ship as it sinks; it’s about sticking around to do your best to help it stay afloat. Even if it does sink, you should at least avoid talking against it.
Acknowledge your weaknesses and mistakes, but move on.
Everybody makes mistakes and when you do, accept that you have, apologize if it’s necessary and then seek to improve yourself. Never dwell on a mistake or weakness because it will only waste your precious time and encourage you to concentrate on your bad points. Not only that, your mistakes and weaknesses will be the only things your team will see.
Appreciate your team’s efforts.
Show your team you appreciate their hard work. It’s part of human nature to want to be acknowledged and made to feel important. Make it a sincere act to give compliments when they’re due.
Being a leader can be both a wonderful and difficult thing. You have the power to change things, but you don’t have the power to change people. You can change how a government is run, how a company manages its funds, and how people manage their debts; but you can’t make lazy people work harder, nor can you turn dull people into geniuses. What you can do, however, is encourage people to do better, and this is a task you can accomplish only if you are a strict leader.
Never mind the myths of soft bosses or kind-hearted leaders who stoop down to save an ant from being trampled. In this highly competitive world, people need to be managed firmly; they need to be told what to do. Being strict, however, doesn’t mean that you should be a dictator and lord it over your minions. Being strict means that you won’t tolerate haphazard techniques or half-baked output; being strict means that you will command responsibility, and make sure that all your followers work responsibly and successfully.
Commanding responsibility means that you will take all the blame if anything goes wrong, and share the success with your followers if things go right. This should be enough to make you strict, so start off by being strict on yourself. Consistency is the key to good leadership: if you show your followers that you are firm at the outset, they won’t be surprised if you suddenly become strict in the middle of work.
Second, don’t take strictness to mean stiffness. All projects are open to suggestions, and being the leader doesn’t give you the right to monopolize ideas. Don’t be afraid to take suggestions from your employees, and be approachable. If you have time, have weekly hour-long brainstorming sessions with your employees or followers, but have a moderator facilitate the exchange of ideas. The tendency of such brainstorming sessions is to veer into joking and ridiculousness, so you need a good referee to watch over your team’s progress.
Third, set a good example. If you preach high quality work, make sure that your own work is of high quality. If you preach working long hours to finish a project, work long hours as well. If your employees see that you are working as hard as they are, then they can be inspired to work and they will naturally look up to you as their leader.
Fourth, and last, acknowledge mistakes. A good leader is human, so admit your mistakes, but move on. True success happens when you rise again from failure.
Try watching “The Manchurian Candidate.” It’s this film starring Hollywood greats Meryl Streep, Denzel Washington, Jon Voight and Liev Schreiber. All of them play political and military figures. They may just be acting but that is why you have to watch them closely. They know how to speak with authority.
In the corporate world, it is important that you know how to carry himself well. This includes the way of walking and most importantly, the manner of speaking. If the person of authority sounds doubtful of what he is saying, then why should the people listening believe him?
Take for example Marilyn Monroe. Why do you think Hollywood had a hard time taking her seriously? Her breathy, soft, raspy voice didn’t help her in her career or her off-cam dealings with people.
If the your voice lulls people to sleep when you talk, don’t expect the company to give you a promotion. Giving an employee a promotion means that the employee will also have more responsibilities. If your voice isn’t authoritative enough then the company won’t be secure in sending you out to represent the business.
When conversing with your superiors as well as those from other companies, use a tone that is strong and projects integrity and believability. You should ooze confidence, power and credibility. You should represent strength and not weakness.
Speech and voice can be learned. If a child can do it, so can an adult. We can tell a lot about the person by watching their mannerisms and actions. A person of authority knows exactly how to move and speak in order to get the attention of others.
If a person shrieks “Listen”, “Quiet please!” or “Alright”, chances are he will only be ignored. But if he merely makes casual greetings here and there, give off a little smile and wave, he will be able to reach out to the entire room. As long as he remembers to make direct eye contact whenever he converses with someone and say his sentiments loud enough for everyone to hear then he’s doing good.
Also, some people are receptive to distinctly cadenced and low timbered with moderately volume voice. Examples are that of Charlton Heston (Moses) and James Earl Jones (Darth Vader).
Now that you got the tone, the next step is the words. Think about what you will say before you actually speak it. Speakers who have a message easily get their listener’s attention. You should also maintain eye contact with the person who is focused on what you are saying. You should add a little bass to your tone.
Team leaders are responsible for making their employees feel supported. They have an enormous impact, be it positive or negative, on the entire team. He or she must interact with each member of the team. This interaction determines the whole team’s performance.
A team leader must engage in five kinds of behavior that have been proven to be effective in the working environment.
1.) Monitors the team’s work effectively and gives feedback and reactions to the problems at work by understanding the root.
2.) Provides support to a team member’s decision-making and actions
3.) Helps lessen the stressful situations for those working under him and socializes with the team members.
4.) Recognizes good works of the individual and knows whether this should be regarded privately or publicly.
5.) Consults subordinates about their work and is open to the ideas and opinions of each.
A team’s interaction with one another is negative when the leader is engaged in the three kinds of ineffective actions which are:
1.) ineffectively monitors the work and displays an inadequate comprehension of his team’s capabilities and provides negative and non-constructive feedback and delay on the checking of the status of work.
2.) failure to clarify objectives and roles by giving assignments that aren’t the responsibilities of a team member and
3.) ineffectively dealing with problems at hand.
Therefore, a team leader must be on top of his game when it comes to the responsibilities of each team member. By being updated on the situation, he will have an easier time coming up with a solution when a problem arises. This makes it easier for the team and the leader as well.
A team leader must also be charismatic enough to be liked by his members. At the same time, he should show them that he isn’t one to be pushed. He should have authority but at the same time he should be able to put himself in his subordinates’ shoes.
Empathy is a key character of any team leader. By supporting each individual member, he will be able to reach out to them in ways that they would like from a leader. By sympathizing with each member, the team leader gets to know him and her on both a personal and professional level that will be beneficial to the team.
The popular notion about being a leader is that of being tough and firm. Being strict with a number of rules and policies is often prioritized, and the need to be consistent with displaying authority is thought to be uncompromised. Despite the need to be tough, good leaders are also known to be gentle and forgiving.
No one said it was easy to become a leader, and being both tough and gentle can actually be a challenge especially since it can be quite a confusing and ironic task. There are ways to do both however, and it is said to be all about balance.
A balancing act
Perhaps the best way to learn how to be a gentle leader is to know exactly what being gentle means and how it is important in leadership. Being gentle means that you are able to assert yourself and the things you want to enforce on your people in a manner that isn’t harsh or threatening. You don’t go around screaming like a banshee as you give our orders and you certainly don’t try to frighten your people.
After all, how can you expect your people to function well if they are actually shaking from fear of you? Then again, fear of the boss or the leader isn’t a bad thing but there is a certain level of fear that is considered good and any excess may be considered bad and ineffective in people management.
To know the difference between the two, you must be able to develop a personal relationship with your people but at the same time maintain a distance where it is clear to your people that you mean business and you won’t tolerate any disrespect or mediocrity at work.
Kindness in being gentle
Often, being gentle is displayed with a certain humane quality known as kindness. You are gentle when you are kind and just. You don’t enforce any rule or law that may offend any of your people nor do you go out of your way to make their lives miserable. Be sure that you know where to draw the line of being firm and strict, and that it is merely on a professional level.
It is all about instilling discipline in your people and you must be able to do this without resorting to drastic measures. Remember, you are an effective leader if your people continue to do as they are told despite your absence.
There will always be a person in an organization that stands out among the group. A natural born leader, he will always be looked upon as a mentor or as a role model. While there are natural born leaders, there are those who are struggling just to get some attention.
A good leader won’t have a hard time influencing others; naturally, people will follow an effective leader. One who demonstrated a passion on his work will inspire others to attain a vision. Lee Lacocca is a classic example of this determination. During the 1980’s, Chrysler’s fortune reached its lowest. To show his confidence that the company would regain its footing, Lacocca cut his salary to only $1! Obviously, the company survived and continues to flourish at present.
Aside from the sheer determination exhibited by Lee, there are many other characteristics that a leader should possess. Some are innate to an individual while others can be learned and developed. Some of these important qualities are:
1. Humility. Definitely, humility is one of the most important attributes to be a leader. In spite of enormous accomplishments, a manager who remains to be humble will ultimately win the trust and respect of his subordinates.
2. A team player. Getting into the team isn’t just leading them but living with them. Knowing, meeting, training, inspiring, and growing with the team are essential acts that can be done to be a good team player. Cooperative moves can be instrumental to attaining success.
3. Punctual and visible. A good leader is always seen. Being punctual is one good reflection of the seriousness towards a job. Being seen also means regular visitation to each unit; not just to criticize or check the work but for some pleasantries. Listening to other’s points of views can inspire the employees and make them feel important.
4. Give trust and empower his subordinates. A leader empowers and gives other a say in minor decisions. Empowerment is a good sign that a leader is trusting. Delegation of work can lessen workloads and develop confidence among the work force.
5. Thinker. Continuous learning and acquisition of thoughts necessitates a leader’s everyday work. Good leadership encompasses mind boggling situations wherein a manager should think and draw his inferences.
Workplace can be analogous to a war zone with lots of problems and conflicts to solve but having a good leader can be one of the keys to resolving all of these. A leader, no matter how excellent carries some imperfections. Being a good leader at work not only needs managerial skills but the soft skills that include feelings and empathy among co-workers.
Many people dream about being the best in their field: fledgling architects dream about designing the best buildings that challenge gravity and rival imagination; young scientists dream about finding cures to diseases that haven’t even been described in full; starting writers dream about writing the next great novel or poem that will be studied and loved by generations to come. The advantage to being at the bottom of the ladder is that you can dream about rising to the top; the greatest disadvantage is that you can often stay at the bottom for a long time if you don’t take action toward achieving your dreams.
How can you be a great leader in your chosen field? First, you have to select your field. Many people make the mistake of dreaming about being leaders, but end up going from one career to the next without making any considerable progress in each one. If you know your field of specialty, then you can plan exactly where you want your career to go, and how you should achieve what you want.
Second, take steps toward being an expert in your field. Today’s wired world seems to advocate having multiple specialties and doing many things at once. Although this can seem easy with all your communication equipment in tow, you can lose focus along the way and end up tired – but without anything to show for it! Stick with one field and be an expert in it. The key to success is to hone your craft, so do whatever you can to be an expert in your field: attend workshops, join conferences, enroll in educational classes, and read as much as you can.
Third, network and make friends! As soon as you know your field well enough, you will understand that your expertise isn’t entirely self-dependent. Scientists need communicators to make lay people understand the importance of their findings. Architects need accountants to determine the feasibility of their projects. Writers need different experts to confirm the credibility of their work. Make friends, not only in your field, but in the fields of people who can help you in the future.
Fourth and last, set goals for yourself. A well-stated goal can help you achieve success quickly. If being an expert means you should have a PhD, then study for one. If you must publish your work, do so. If you need practice in your sport, practice, practice, practice! The best leaders in their fields not only worked toward greatness, but took the most effective steps in achieving success as soon as they could.
Celebrities aren’t always famous for being good actors or actresses, or great directors, or responsible leaders. Many celebrities are famous because they spotted something that would catch on, recognized it as a profitable trend, and proceeded to lead the world in adopting the trend. Being a trend leader won’t necessarily make you famous or allow you to walk the red carpet, but it can give you a sense of fulfillment like discovering a new species of animal and having it named after you.
The process of leading a trend begins with discovering one, and there are two ways by which you can do this successfully: research and observation. First, you need to find the field that you want to specialize in. All fields have their own trends: artists have their fashion and art styles; writers have their writing styles and settings and the occasional murder-mystery that involves famous artists hiding secret messages in their paintings; even architects have to contend with trends that dictate how homes and buildings should appear.
As soon as you know what field you want to specialize in, you can move into the realm of research. Look at the history of your chosen field, and see what major trends people in it have followed. As soon as you spot the trends, look at what might have pushed the trend to be popular. Everything in history happens for a reason: mini skirts weren’t simply a way to cool women’s legs, but also served as protest in favor of women’s rights. The current upsurge of scientific research didn’t happen because of better funding, but because we have better tools to carry out research.
If you know what can cause a trend to be adopted, then you can recognize a trend when you see it. You can now move into the realm of observation: look at the current events in your chosen field, and keep track of the latest news in other fields. As soon as you spot events that might push a trend to occur, be on the lookout.
If you spot a trend, what do you do? You write about it and you use it. For instance, if you are in fashion, write about that new revolution in skirts and why it will tick; couple your writing with an example, and wear the skirt yourself. If you preach that a trend will occur, then you have to be the first to follow it.
Lastly, admit defeat. Not all trends are destined for success. The key to being a great trend leader is to go back to research and observation, and to keep on trying.