There are a few defining characteristics of leadership that will help you stand out and excel. These apply to leaders at all career stages – from the aspiring manager all the way up to the CEO. Good leadership is the same at all levels.
Be a master communicator
If there’s one aspect of communication that can really help set you apart from others – it’s your ability to listen. While talking is relatively easy, being a good listener takes more skill. Listening allows you to evaluate a situation from another perspective, to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, and understand a different point of view. It gives you time to reflect on what’s being said and formulate a productive response.
Master the art of communication in all of its forms – speaking, writing, and virtual. You have to be confident in your ability to deliver a message face to face, over a conference or video call, email or messaging. Pay as much attention to the delivery of your message as well as the way it’s received.
Be an expert
Being a leader isn’t about knowing everything. In fact, it’s pretty much the opposite. It’s about having expertise in a particular field or skillset. There’s a reason that teams are made up of multiple people, each one serving a different role. Every team member brings their expertise, and together they are powerful.
Share your knowledge so people know that you’re the person to go to for advice. Become the person known for delivering solutions. Focus on the results, and do what is necessary to achieve them. Think outside the box and be creative. Allow yourself to be flexible in your mindset, and try multiple approaches until you find the best one.
The best leaders are always learning. Learning comes in a multitude of ways, from formal training to reading articles like this one. Look at every situation as a learning opportunity. Ask powerful questions that invoke thought and invite change. Seek out knowledge in as many ways as you can. The more you know, the more prepared you’ll be for whatever comes your way.
Be a teacher, not a boss
The best way to demonstrate your expertise is by teaching others. A leader establishes themselves and gains respect by sharing knowledge, not by being a dictator. By being a teacher, you’re able to inspire others – perhaps to lead, to learn, or simply to participate more.
There are many ways to share your knowledge. Volunteer to be a mentor or give a presentation at a monthly meeting. Reach out to your supervisors and let them know that you have something of value to contribute.
Ask for help when you need it
Great leaders know when to turn to someone for help. You can’t lead alone. Asking for help does not make you any less of an expert or a leader. You will gain more respect by asking for help when you need it, than if you were to try it single-handedly and not succeed. It’s also important to give credit where credit is due. Never try to hide the fact that you got help. By owning it, you’ll show maturity and willingness to be a team player.
Don’t be afraid of failure
It’s okay not to succeed 100 per cent of the time. Rather, it’s encouraged! Some of the best products from the biggest brands were the result of failures. To quote Henry Ford, “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” Those are words to live by – and a great motto to adopt to establish yourself as an insightful leader.
Making mistakes is one of the best ways to learn and grow, and failure should be looked at as a stepping stone to success. Athletes spend thousands of hours practicing and perfecting their skills. Business can be approached in much the same way, as a skill that needs to be honed through practice.