Remember the kid on the playground who created and enforced the rules or the one who marched around with a stream of loyal followers in tow? Even at a young age, in-born leadership qualities surface just as characteristics of followers also become evident.
Leadership qualities come in two varieties: the innate characteristics tied to an individual’s personality and natural strengths and secondly, the skills that are learned through observation and experience. While some people are born with a surplus of leadership skills, hard work can impact their leadership success, pushing them to greater heights. People who possess fewer leadership characteristics can, through diligent effort, training, determination and practice, also enjoy success in leadership positions.
You can build a portfolio of leadership skills regardless of the qualities you possess naturally or via the position you currently hold.
Be a Thinker, not merely a doer
Seek opportunities to contribute beyond simply doing the job you are assigned. “Don’t just be a doer; be a thinker,” advises Michele Tillis Lederman.1 “If you’re asked to crunch the numbers, go the extra step and analyze them. Think about the implications of the results and what may be important to highlight.”
Take proactive action
Your boss’s primary focus is not your career development. That task falls to you. So, ask for feedback on your work and seek ways to further develop your skills. Step up to volunteer for those tasks that routinely get pushed aside. “Volunteering allows you to get outside your comfort zone and hone your skills in new areas,” says Alaina Levine; 2 it also gets you noticed.
Ask questions and listen for wisdom
No one has all the answers. By asking questions, you demonstrate a desire to learn from your co-workers, and that will get their attention in a positive way.
As you build skills and gain leadership experience, maximize your potential with attention to these areas.
- Passion – “I have found it to be true in life that passion and enthusiasm have consistently taken my performance to higher levels,” notes Andrew F. Ortiz, J.D., M.P.A.3 “The energy that you bring to your work infuses you with a spirit that motivates you to always give your level best.” Put your heart and soul into your work, remembering Ralph Waldo Emerson’s advice: “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.”
- Vision – Visionary leaders take their followers from the here and now to the next level. “Vision is the ability to create a picture of the future that inspires followership. Keep your eyes on your environment and seek to anticipate the trends in your fields of endeavor,” says Ortiz.4 He cites a Japanese proverb that speaks to the power of vision. “A vision without action is just a dream. Action without vision is just a nightmare.”
- Knowledge – A continual thirst for information and knowledge that is then put into action has enormous potential to lead to successful achievements. Learn from those wiser than yourself as you gain a reputation as a credible source in your own right. Remember the words of Herbert Spencer, “The great end of education is not knowledge, but action.”
Take every opportunity to build and maximize your leadership skills to be prepared for the career advancements and challenges that come your way.
Allow Thomas Byrne Associates the opportunity to assist you in achieving your career goals.