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8 Questions To Test Your Leadership Qualities

8 Questions To Test Your Leadership Qualities

Being a follower is easy. You just have to do what you’re told to the best of your ability and stick to the status quo. Being a leader is a much more difficult task. You have to think outside the box to solve problems, and push yourself to your absolute limits. Some people are born leaders, as they’re never happy with just being “good enough,” and will always look for ways to improve themselves and everyone around them. If you can honestly answer these questions in the affirmative, you should consider yourself a driving force for humanity. And be proud of it!

1. Do you go above and beyond?

Like I said, followers are happy doing exactly what they need to do and nothing more. Leaders, on the other hand, push themselves as far as they can, regardless of whether they truly need to or not. Back in school these people were the “go-getters” that spent their time perfecting their projects while everyone else was happy doing just enough to receive a passing grade. A good leader is the reason an organization will not only succeed, but will absolutely flourish.

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2. Are you optimistic?

Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.” This isn’t to say that followers are necessarily pessimistic, but they also don’t share the same optimism as leaders have. Followers often only perform “good enough” because they are unsure of whether or not they actually can do better. Leaders know for a fact they can always improve their abilities and skills, and they know others can do so as well. Not only do leaders push themselves farther, but they also hold their colleagues to a higher standard.

3. Are you open to change?

You would think that followers, by nature, would be easily adaptable to change. However, they often are adverse to any deviation from the norm, opting rather to do things “as they’ve always been done.” Leaders feel free to steer in whichever direction will lead them to the most beneficial outcome. This may include charting unfamiliar waters, but leaders are comfortable and confident in their ability to do so. As country music legend Jimmy Dean believed, “I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.”

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4. Are you decisive?

Of course, as leaders are open to contingencies occurring on the fly, they also have no problem making decisions and sticking to them. Followers are often stuck in the “what if” stage of contemplation, which blocks them from ever actually making a move to further themselves. Leaders know that, regardless of the decision they make, both positive and negative outcomes may occur. But they’ll also be able to navigate through any bad situation they face, as they’ve anticipated it from the get-go

5. Are you accountable?

One of the main reasons followers are so indecisive is they don’t want to be blamed if something bad happens. Leaders will never shift the blame to their colleagues or team. But they also won’t shut down when they make a decision that turns out to be the wrong one. They’re okay with failing, because they learn from their failures in order to better handle similar situations that arise in the future. Followers who blame everyone else for their own shortcomings will continue to make the same mistakes time and time again.

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6. Are you passionate?

Followers are just along for the ride. They aren’t really bothered by the job, and don’t care whether they do well or not. Leaders put enormous amounts of effort into everything they do in life. They perform even the simplest tasks with precision and care, because they know even small tasks add up to have a huge effect on this world. They take pride in their work, and are careful not to waste the gift they were given.

7. Are you intrinsically motivated?

Bob Dylan once said, “What’s money? A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and goes to bed at night and in between does what he wants to do.” Followers might try to rationalize this and say, “Easy for him to say, he’s a millionaire.” But he wasn’t always rich. He became rich by doing exactly what he wanted to do, and putting every ounce of his energy into being the absolute best he could be. Leaders don’t follow money. They follow their passion, and are rewarded by being great at what they do. Ironically, the richest people in the world, more often than not, make money follow them rather than the other way around.

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8. Are you willing to learn?

It’s a sad truth that many people graduate high school thinking they’ll never have to open a book ever again. Like I said, followers are just along for the ride. Leaders are life-long learners, who feel like a day without reading or trying something new is a waste of 24 hours. Many followers think they know all they’ll need to know in life to survive; leaders understand there’s an infinite amount of knowledge in this universe, and it’s impossible to know too much. That doesn’t stop them from trying, though.

Featured photo credit: Flickr via farm2.staticflickr.com

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Published on March 25, 2019

How to Find New Growth Opportunities at Work

How to Find New Growth Opportunities at Work

Career advancement is an enticement that today’s companies use to lure job candidates. But to truly uncover growth opportunities within a company, it’s up to you to take the initiative to move up. You can’t rely on recruiter promises that your company will largely hire from within. Even assurances you heard from your direct supervisor during the interviewing process may not pan out.

But if you begin a job knowing that you’re ultimately responsible for getting yourself noticed, you will be starting one step ahead.

Accomplished entrepreneur and LinkedIn Co-Founder Reid Hoffman said,

“If you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backward.”

It’s important to recognize that taking charge of your own career advancement, and then mapping out the steps you need to succeed, is key to moving forward on your trajectory.

Make a Point of Positioning Yourself as a Rising Star

As an employee looking for growth opportunities within your current company, you have many avenues to position yourself as a rising star.

As an insider, you’re able to glean insights on company strategies and apply your expertise where it’s most needed. Scout out any skills gaps, then make a point to acquire and apply them. And, when you have creative ideas to offer, make it your mission to gain the ear of those in the organization who can put your ideas to the test.

Valiant shows of commitment and enterprise make managers perk up and take notice, keeping you ahead of both internal and external competitors.

Employ these other useful tips to let your rising star qualities shine:

1. Promote Your Successes to Your Higher-Ups

When your boss casually asks how you’re doing, use this valuable moment to position yourself as indispensable: “I’m floating on clouds because three clients have already commented on how well they like my redesign of the company website.”

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Tell your supervisors about any and all successes. Securing a new contract or signing a new customer should be a cause for celebration. Be sure to let your bosses know.

2. Cultivate Excellent Listening Skills

Listen well, and ask great questions. Realize that people love to talk about themselves.

But if you’re a superb listener, others will confide in you, and you’ll learn from what they share. You may even find out something valuable about your own prospects in the company.

If others view you as even-minded and thoughtful, they’ll respect your ideas and, in turn, listen to what you have to say.

3. Go to All Office Networking Events

Never skip the office Christmas party, your coworker’s retirement party, or any office birthday parties, wedding showers, or congratulatory parties for colleagues.

If others see you as a team player, it will help you rise in your company. These on-site parties will also help you mingle with co-workers whom you might not ordinarily have the chance to see. For special points, help organize one or two of these get-togethers.

Take the Extra Step to Show Your Value to the Company

Managers and HR staff know that it can be less risky – and a lot less costly — to promote from within. As internal staff, you likely have a good grasp of the authority structure and talent pool in the company, and know how to best navigate these networks in achieving both the company’s goals and your own.

The late Nobel-Prize winning economist, Gary Becker, coined the term “firm-specific,” which describes the unique skills required to excel in an individual organization. You, as a current employee, have likely tapped into these specific skills, while external hires may take a year or more to master their nuances.

Know that your experience within the company already provides value, then find ways to add even more value, using these tips:

4. Show Initiative

Commit yourself to whatever task you’re given, and make a point of going above and beyond.

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Position yourself so that you’re ready to take on any growth opportunities that present themselves. If you believe you have skills that have gone untapped, find a manager who will give you a chance to prove your worth.

Accept any stretch assignment that showcases your readiness for advancement. Stay late, and arrive early. Half of getting the best assignments is sticking around long enough to receive them.

5. Set Yourself Apart by Staying up on Everything There Is to Know About Your Company and Its Competitors

Subscribe to and read the online trade journals. Become an active member in your industry’s network of professionals. Go to industry conferences, and learn your competitors’ strategies.

Be the on-the-ground eyes and ears for your organization to stay on top of industry trends.

6. Go to Every Company Meeting Prepared and Ready to Learn

A lot of workers feel meetings are an utter waste of time. They’re not, though, because they provide face-time with higher-ups and those in a position to give you the growth opportunities you need.

Go with the intention of absorbing information and using it to your advantage — including the goals and work styles of your superiors. Respect the agenda, listen more than you speak, and never beleaguer a point.

Accelerate Your Career Growth Opportunities

A recent study found that the five predictors of employees with executive potential were: the right motivation, curiosity, insight, engagement, and determination. These qualities help you stand out, but it’s also important to establish a track record of success and to not appear to be over-reaching in your drive to move up in your company.

Try to see yourself from your boss’s position and evaluate your promote-ability.

Do you display a passion and commitment toward meeting the collective goals of the company? Do you have a motivating influence with team members and show insight and excellence in all your work?

These qualities will place you front and center when growth opportunities arise.

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Use these strategic tips to escalate your opportunities for growth:

7. Find a Mentor

With mentorship programs fast disappearing, this isn’t always easy. But you need to look for someone in the company who has been promoted several times and who also cares about your progress.

Maybe it’s the person who recommended you for the job. Or maybe it’s your direct supervisor. It could even be someone across the hall or in a completely different department.

Talk to her or him about growth opportunities within your company. Maybe she or he can recommend you for a promotion.

8. Map out Your Own Growth Opportunity Chart

After you’ve worked at the company for a few months, work out a realistic growth chart for your own development. This should be a reasonable, practical chart — not a pie-in-the-sky wish list of demands.

What’s reasonable? Do you think being promoted within two years is reasonable? What about raises? Try to inform your own growth chart with what you’ve heard about other workers’ raises and promotions.

Once you’ve rigorously charted a realistic path for your personal development within the company, try to talk to your mentor about it.

Keep refining your chart until it seems to work with your skills and proven talents. Then, arrange a time to discuss it with your boss.

You may want to time the discussion around the time of your performance review. Then your boss can weigh in with what he feels is reasonable, too.

9. Set Your Professional Bar High

Research shows that more than two-thirds of workers are just putting in their time. But through your active engagement in the organization and commitment to giving your best, you can provide the contrast against others giving lackluster performances.

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Cultivate the hard skills that keep you on the cutting edge of your profession, while also refining your soft skills. These are the attributes that make you better at embracing diverse perspectives, engendering trust, and harnessing the power of synergy.

Even if you have an unquestionably left-brain career — a financial analyst or biotechnical engineer, for example — you’re always better off when you can form kind, courteous, quality relationships with colleagues.

Let integrity be the cornerstone of all your interactions with clients and co-workers.

The Bottom Line

Growth opportunities are available for those willing to purposely and adeptly manage their own professional growth. As the old adage says,

“Half of life is showing up.”

The other half is sticking around so that when your boss is looking for someone to take on a more significant role, you are among the first who come to mind.

Remember, your career is your business!

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Featured photo credit: Zach Lucero via unsplash.com

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