Landing a job as a manager is great.
You get a nice boost in your paycheck and more responsibility.
But landing a job as a manager and turning out to be a leader is even better.
Leadership is rare. It’s a trait that you find in very few but a trait that every professional should strive to attain. It’s a trait that differentiates the most successful managers, CEOs, executives and people in general from the rest of the pack.
Leaders are those who we admire.
Leaders are those who inspire change.
To become a leader you must be intentional with your actions and recognize how your behaviors impact those around you. Whether it’s how you interact with colleagues during a crisis or how you carry yourself during moments of uncertainty – it’s your habits that will define your ability to lead.
As Aristotle once said,
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.
In this blog post, I’m going to share some of the key traits that some of the best leaders have. If you can incorporate these approaches in your work and life, you will quickly grow into a leader.
Be Authentic In Your Interactions
A lot of people talk about the importance of being authentic without actually knowing what it means. Some people assume that it means being nice to people all the time and others assume that it means giving more than you get.
While both of those thoughts are nice, they’re not at the core of what authenticity is.
Authenticity starts with accepting yourself and embracing it.
Authenticity means realizing that you’re going to have good days and bad days without being bothered by it. It means telling people what you feel and not holding back because you don’t want to come off as being overpowering or a perfectionist.
If you’re seeing a colleague or peer mess something up, don’t wait until they’re fired to bring it up. Go up to them and let them know that they could improve by making a few minor changes. Be real with people and be honest with them when they ask you questions or for feedback.
Take Ownership Of Mistakes
Over the course of your career, you’ll make mistakes.
Some mistakes will be small and some mistakes will be big. The key is to step up and admit when you’ve made mistakes and have the ability to shift your focus and attention on a solution or process that will ensure it never happens again.
For me, when I was first starting my career, I sent out way too many documents with spelling mistakes. It wasn’t a huge issue but it was something I knew wasn’t acceptable.
Instead of sitting back and allowing the mistake to happen time and time again, I chatted with a colleague and set up a process where we would proof each other’s work before sending it to clients. Over time, the process worked so well that the company started to enforce that approach across the board with everyone being assigned a proofing partner.
Strive To Inspire Action
Communication is a process that cannot be undervalued when talking about leadership.
To be a leader, you must open up channels of communication that can arm you with the best chance to inspire action. Whether it’s setting up a weekly one-on-one with your team or simply using a channel like Slack – communication goes a long way.
The more you interact with your team, the closer you will become. Your team will start to look at you as someone who they can trust and someone they can rely on when things get challenging.
You should always be looking for ways to strengthen your connection with your team as those connections will lead to your team going above the status quo.
Always Be Curious
The best leaders are those who can inspire through their own curiosity. What I mean by that is, the best leaders are so curious that they often have insights and knowledge to pass along to their team that they’ve gather from their extra-curricular activities or readings.
Some of the best leaders I know have found a sincere interest in things like philosophy or psychology. In finding these interests, they have the ability to share unique perspectives and thoughts with their team and help them get through challenging moments.
Beyond the interpersonal curiosity, you should be curious as it relates to your industry and how you can improve your team. Spend time reading books that will help you level up or take an online course that will offer you new skills.
Curiosity breeds curiosity.
Inspire Others Through Your Hustle
It’s easy to have high expectations. Most managers and CEOs have high expectations of those around them as it relates to working hard and showing commitment.
If those are your expectations for your team, you should hold yourself to the same. If you’re expecting your team to put in late nights, you need to show them that you’re willing to go with them into battle.
You might not be able to be with your team into the evenings every single night but it’s your job to show them through action that you’re there to help them be successful. If you’re pushing them to meet a deadline, you need to answer when they call for help.
If you’re striving to be a leader in the workplace, remember that your interactions with colleagues matter more than anything.
It’s not enough to put your head down, drink coffee, turn on some gangster rap and get things done to be seen as a leader.
True leadership comes from your ability to help your team grow professionally, it comes from your ability to connect with them personally and the way you inspire them to achieve results.
Finally, consider investing in some of the soft skills that most great leaders have such as the ability to network or speak in public. If you can nurture these skills, maintain a deep understanding of your role/industry and constantly embrace the key traits we’ve discussed, you’ll be well on your way to being a leader.