Sometimes it seems as if people are born leaders, but in reality, they're just well aware of skills that are necessary to demonstrate admirable leadership. Curious about how to sharpen your own leadership skills? Keep reading. As you'll soon see, it's certainly possible to become a leader worth following.
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1. Have A Clear Vision Of Goals
People are characteristically impressed when others have well-defined visions for the things they want to carry out.
Whether you're involved in leading a team at your workplace or are trying to unify people at a community center, ensure that you communicate to people in your sphere of influence that not only have you thought a lot about what it means to be a great leader, but you've got the skills to back up your ideas.
When in a leadership role, be prepared for people to ask questions about how you aim to accomplish things, and don't shy away when providing an answer. Also, try not to feel nervous if you aren't precisely sure of how to get from where you are to where you want to be. It's enough to have a clear vision of the outcome, even if you don't yet possess a firm idea of how to get there.
2. Be Open To Learning Every Day
Even the most well-established leaders know they aren't perfect. You'll be well on your way to becoming a great leader if you're not only aware of your strengths, but also your weaknesses. Approach every day with the mindset that you can potentially learn from any experience and every person you encounter.
Try to demonstrate an inquisitive attitude and be constantly educated by whatever life brings.
Also, don't be too discouraged by perceived failures. They may offer some of the hardest, but most valuable lessons you'll ever learn. If you need proof of that, get a few autobiographies from great leaders you admire.
Almost invariably, you'll find that those people encountered severe hardships in their quests to fulfill leadership roles. Something which initially seems like a failure may eventually translate into success.
After going through a particularly bad experience, you may find yourself feeling like the rug has been ripped out from under your feet and you're left picking up the pieces and wondering how to rebuild.
Later, when you're able to look back on what you went through, you may actually discover that what seemed like a tragedy at the time was actually a situation that taught you many lessons you wouldn't have been able to learn otherwise.
The point is that the more open you are to learning, the more leadership skills you can potentially develop naturally, and sometimes without even trying.
3. Set A Good Example
If you're keen to stand out from the crowd as a leader, one of the easiest ways to do that is to display leadership characteristics in almost everything you do and say. However, make sure they don't come across as forced. Consider, for example, that most leaders don't sit back idly when things need to get done.
Instead of waiting for others to take action, they boldly step in and start making plans to accomplish tasks.
Also, conduct yourself in a way that's worthy of praise. That may mean refusing to join in with gossip around your workplace or frequently going out of your way to mentor others.
Speaking of mentoring, setting a good example for others is an excellent way to empower people with leadership qualities you have learned. Sometimes without even realizing it, individuals copy the traits they notice in people they admire.
Maybe you're a supervisor of a youth group at a community center, and if you always strive to treat people equally, tell the truth and show kindness in your actions, people probably won't be able to help but take notice of your example, and mimic it.
4. Be Gentle With Yourself
There may be days, or even months, when it seems like you're totally failing as a leader. Maybe a major project you were heading up has just crumbled due to internal drama on your team, or perhaps you just got news that something you were looking forward to putting your energies towards in the coming weeks won't be going ahead after all due to a lack of funding.
During these difficult times, it's especially important to keep a healthy perspective.
As already mentioned, even the toughest times in your life can be invaluable opportunities to learn. In addition, realize that there are a lot of hard times that happen to people that aren't necessarily within their realms of control. That's why if there are ever periods in your life where you feel certain you're not cut out to be a leader after all, it's crucial to not listen to that voice in your head.
In most cases, you were probably working as hard as you could to behave as a strong leader, but there were probably factors that you could neither have controlled nor predicted. It's usually never a good idea to mentally beat yourself up about things, whether or not they were your fault.
Instead, use determination to will yourself to get back up, dust yourself off and try again. After all, the past is in the past, and you usually can't change it. Rather than putting yourself through significant distress by analyzing what you could or should have done to prevent certain situations, be kind to yourself and remember how tomorrow presents new opportunities to get back on track.
5. Remain Accountable For Your Actions
People appreciate when leaders hold themselves accountable for their actions and never waver. In some cases, your actions may lead to some outcomes you're not exactly proud of, but it's still important to admit your role in how things turned out.
People are more likely to respect you if you staunchly hold yourself accountable for the things you do rather than hiding in shame if things don't turn out well.
Of course, on the other hand, holding yourself accountable may also mean accepting compliments when things go well. If people give you pats on the back for good things you've done, try not to become arrogant.
Decent leaders know when to graciously accept good feedback, but they don't get snobbish about being in the spotlight. Simply accept the things that people say about you, and then move on.
Conversely, if people pull you aside and give honest input that your actions were probably not the best, don't get defensive, but show gratitude. It can be hard to take criticism, but your willingness to do so is in line with one of the defining characteristics of strong leadership.
Hopefully these actionable tips and examples give you good starting points for becoming a leader people can admire and follow.
In closing, remember that the act of being a leader is constant and not something you can achieve over a relatively short span of time.