A leadership role is the most pivotal positon in a business. A leader has the power to sink their company or make them soar. Contrary to the popular belief, no one is born a leader. Leaders are made. It takes years of hard work, determination and sacrifice to be a great leader.
What makes a great leader and how can you get ready for a leadership role?
Here are our top tips to get you started.
1. Embrace Failure, But Learn From It
Failure is a stepping stone towards success. Knowing why you failed is even more important as this will help you in the future to avoid or handle such situations. As a leader, failure is your guide to success and the trigger that forces you to become more diligent about your overall approach to better preparation. Preparation can never guarantee success, but the lack of preparation can certainly increase the probability of failure.
"My attitude has always been, if you fall flat on your face, at least you're moving forward. All you have to do is get back up and try again."
"Do not be embarrassed by your failures, learn from them and start again."
- Richard Branson
2. Put Your Hands Up
Initiative is the word here. As a leader, you are never told what to do, but to get things done. You need to assume responsibility and lead your team in the right direction. Most groups have far more work than manpower to perform it all. Take on the responsibility and be the person your company can count on to get things done.
"Only the guy who isn't rowing has time to rock the boat."
- Jean-Paul Sartre
3. Follow in the Footsteps of Great Leaders
Over the years, talented leaders have been setting examples in various fields. Observe the people who manage and find someone who you believe is both a great manager and is successful. Your role model doesn’t have to be someone famous. It could be the boss of your previous company or somebody in the family, if they have the qualities of a leader, imitate them. Ask for them to be your mentor and observe how they perform their management job.
"I know of no single formula for success. But over the years I have observed that some attributes of leadership are universal and are often about finding ways of encouraging people to combine their efforts, their talents, their insights, their enthusiasm and their inspiration to work together."
- Queen Elizabeth II
4. Educate Yourself
Management classes and books are available in plenty. Look for ones that are oriented toward the basics and the initial stages of management. This will outline what you need to do in these early days. Online courses are an affordable solution that you can fit around your life and timing. Higher level materials, while interesting, will assume you know these things and won’t go into much detail.
"Today a reader, tomorrow a leader."
- Margaret Fuller
5. Practice Makes Perfect
The boss will go on vacation or business travel. While bosses take holidays, work doesn’t. They have work to be done while they’re away and you can volunteer to cover for them or minimally to pick up some tasks of theirs. This will give you the chance of getting a feel of running things as a manager. This temporary stint will also help in demonstrating your ability to take on higher-level responsibilities.
"Leadership is practiced not so much in words as in attitude and in actions."
- Harold S. Geneen
6. Seek Leadership Roles
A great way to get started in management is to take on the role of project management or leader. Many of the needed management skills are used in these situations. You are facilitating a group of people to get something accomplished. To do that you will exercise such things as: planning, directing, communicating, gaining agreement, following up, and so on. Projects are a key way for business to get done and someone needs to lead the effort – that can be you. If you prepare yourself well, your first management position it can be the element that will catapult you into higher levels and greater impact to your business.
"If a window of opportunity appears, don't pull down the shade."
- Tom Peters
7. Be Accountable
Webster’s dictionary defines preparation as “the activity or process of making something ready or of becoming ready for something.” Be proactive and carry out your responsibility without forcing someone to keep following up on your progress. As a leader, you can never stop being accountable to others and yourself. In other words, when you miss a deadline, lose attention to detail, fail to ask the right questions, etc. – these are moments when you stop being accountable and inefficiencies begin to rise to the surface. As a leader, inefficiency is your biggest enemy.
“Earn your leadership every day.”
– Michael Jordan
8. Leadership is Not a One-Person Show
Pause and pay attention to your colleagues and employees. Leaders must move and think quickly, but they must also take time to pause and pay closer attention to their employees. As a leader, you can’t prepare yourself to lead more effectively if you don’t know what is happening with your employees, their state of mind, their required resources and the support they need to experience success and fulfilment in their work. Constant communication in the form of sharing sessions or intimate team meetings can go a long way in keeping your employees motivated and strategizing your leadership. You can’t keep moving forward if the things you are leaving behind are dysfunctional and broken.
“Leadership is not just about giving energy ... it's unleashing other people's energy.”
– Paul Polman
9. Tackle Problems Effectively and Quickly
Evolution is a part of the skill requirements needed to be a better leader. You need to be able to adapt to situations and people. As a leader, you might be faced with hurdles occasionally. Some might be straightforward while others, not so much. Evolution is impossible without better preparation. As a leader, you must constantly invest in your own skill-sets and capabilities so that you can improve your approach to problem-solving. Great leaders learn how to use their strengths to better prepare themselves for how to solve problems proactively and most efficiently. Time is money and both are lost when problems rise to the surface; confident decision-making allows you to save both time and money as a leader.
"A C.E.O.'s job is leadership, problem solving, and team building. I've done that my whole career."
- Bruce Raune
10. Keep Listening
Listening is a key element of leadership. Good listening skills enable you to be a good leader. Listening to yourself and ignoring your employees will not work for a leader in the long run. When leaders listen, they can prepare much better. You can’t lead if you don’t listen. As a leader, listening allows you to prepare more intently and solve for things that you otherwise couldn’t if you were only listening to yourself.
"The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority."
- Ken Blanchard
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