One of the important qualities employers are looking for in their employees, from entry level to upper management, is leadership. Employers want to know they can rely on you for new ideas, strategy, and the ability to lead your team to success.
Becoming a leader at work may seem like a daunting task. Truly, one of the most challenging aspects of becoming a good leader is knowing when and where you can start to develop some of those leadership skills.
So what are the first steps you should take to turn yourself into a strong leader?
Leadership starts with embracing what I call “the leadership state of mind.”
First of all, you need to maintain an unwavering dedication to excellence.
In other words, do not allow yourself to achieve average results. Leaders push themselves to the next level, demanding excellence from themselves and from those around them. If you are able to adopt this as one of your mantras, you will command respect from your colleagues and your employer.
Second, cultivate discipline.
Whenever I hear this word I am pulled immediately back to my grade school classroom where discipline was something to be scared of, inspiring me to finish my homework on time and share with others. The importance of discipline takes on a different form as my career grows; it has become a necessity to complete the goals and tasks set before me. If you can make an honest commitment to discipline, you will be able to lead those around you and keep projects, goals, etc on track.
Be open to change.
Leadership inherently requires a certain level of flexibility. The ability to understand new processes and approaches is a quality every leader should uphold. If you are unable to be flexible, colleagues will feel as though they are fighting with a brick wall whenever they try to instigate change or develop a new process. This stubbornness does not inspire movement and will quickly dictate a lack of progression in your career.
Embrace new ideas. This goes hand-in-hand with maintaining some sense of flexibility. To show that you are a leader in the workplace, you have to learn to welcome new ideas. This doesn’t mean listening to new ideas and brushing them off as useless or inadequate, rather, embracing new ideas means taking the time to logically examine each idea presented (unless radically and wildly out of line with your business strategy, of course) to determine whether it is beneficial to pursue. This critical thinking is something employers (and colleagues) will recognize and value.
Learn to delegate responsibility.
Out of all the tips I outline in this post, delegating responsibility is the one I personally struggle the most with. As an extremely driven employee, I am not used to delegating responsibility to others since I take on the I-should-be-able-to-do-it-all mentality. As I’ve learned, this is not a beneficial line of thought for anyone if you have the opportunity to delegate tasks to others as you tend to have too much on your plate to tackle the “big picture” tasks of strategic thinking and decision making. By delegating responsibility that you specifically do not have to address, you will free up your time, allowing you to perform at a much higher level for the important tasks.
Utilizing skills like these to become a strong leader in the workplace is one of the best ways to accelerate your career. However, it is easy to forget that leadership is something that must be earned. Regardless of your current position, continuing to strive to be an excellent leader is a quality that all employees should exemplify. It will help you move your career forward, no matter what your focus is.