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15 Signs You Will Become A Great Leader

15 Signs You Will Become A Great Leader

Throughout the ages, great leaders have forged new societies, built great companies and advanced progress toward social change using a set of skills and abilities that are the awe of anyone who wants to inspire people to take action.

So often confused with one’s position within a hierarchy, leadership is not a title, a role or a position of authority. Leadership is the sum of many different moving parts — it’s definition difficult to pin down and for most, a matter of opinion.

For me, great leadership is a set of values, attitudes and beliefs brought to life through an individual’s actions and behaviors while working towards achieving progress.

A leader is as such no matter their position within social or organizational structures. And sometimes, people with the greatest potential for leadership, don’t even realise they have it.

Here are 15 signs you are going to be a great leader, even if you don’t realize it right now.

1. You empower others

Leadership is not a position of privilege or power. It is a position of service. A leader’s job, first and foremost is to help and guide people achieve what they want to achieve; not to make them subservient to their own whims and agenda.

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Research out of Penn State University, Claremont McKenna College and Tsinghua University found that so-called “transformational leaders,” those who empower self-guided teams by cultivating trust and autonomy, lead teams that achieve more and are personally more effective and successful in their job.

2. You have emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence is one of the single most important characteristics of good leaders. Without it, the most intelligent, skilled and ambitious people will still fall short of achieving greatness in leadership.

Studies undertaken by psychologist Daniel Goleman, author of Leadership: The Power of Emotional Intelligence, found that emotional intelligence was twice as important for “excellent performance” as IQ and technical skills for people in jobs at all levels.

3. You use logic

Logic is the principles of reasoning. Among the discourse of leadership and management, logic, reasoning and rational thought are often overlooked in favour of intuition and gut feelings.

Although intuition is important, the ability to follow and create logical processes, arguments and strategy is a cornerstone of high-performance and success.

4. You start with why

According to recent studies, 70% of the American workforce are disengaged from their work. So what’s missing? Inspiration!

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Simon Sinek, author of global best seller Start With Why explains that people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. Whether you’re starting a social movement or building a great company, you need followers. Great leaders use the power of why to find people that believe what they believe and inspire them to take action.

5. You focus on solutions, not problems

When the pressure is on and deadlines are approaching, what separates great leaders from the rest is their ability to focus on solutions, rather than problems.

Henry Ford, founder of the Ford Motor Company and pioneer in establishing mass production said “whether you think you can, or you think you can’t — you’re right.” Great leaders only spend enough time focusing on a problem to learn from it what they need to overcome it.

6. You are a learner

Albert Einstein, one of the most prolific leaders of scientific progress the world has ever seen believed that “intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death.”

A commitment to life long learning is one of the most important attributes of great leaders. The ability to challenge one’s own assumptions and learn lessons from he successes of failures of themselves and others is the cornerstone of progress.

7. You make others better

Great leaders are not interested in subordinating their followers. Instead, they want to create more leaders. Personal and professional development of team members and building an army of capable and effective drivers for whatever cause a leader is working toward is a great-leader’s top priority.

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8. You think outside the box

Great leaders challenge the status quo. They disrupt the natural order of things to find new and better ways of doing things. Anyone can tow-the-line. Great leaders achieve great things because they’re willing to ask questions, be critical and create change where it’s needed to drive progress.

9. You are a good follower

Great leadership comes from being a great follower. Robert Kelley, author of The Power of Followership, says that good followership is the opposite of what you might think.

A good follower is not a sheep or a yes-man. A good follower is active, independent and is constructively critical of directions and decisions before carrying them out. Most importantly, a good follower can function at a high level without a leader present.

10. You listen more than you talk

Great leaders are life long learners, and nobody has ever learned anything from talking. Arguably one of the most successful leaders in history, Richard Branson, swears by the power of listening over talking and says that the most successful business people he knows all have the habit of listening in common.

Listening over talking gives you the full picture when trying to tackle challenges. It puts things in full and proper perspective which gives great leaders an advantage.

11. You give frank and fearless advice

Abraham Lincoln said, “I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live up to what light I have.” What he meant was that we shouldn’t compromise what we know is right for personal gain.

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One of the most important attributes of a great leader is integrity. A great leader stays true to their convictions, even when the advice they’re giving is not what the people around and above them want to hear — and even at their own expense.

12. You communicate effectively

Leadership and effective communication go hand in hand. Great leaders spend most of their time in some kind of interaction with other people. Whether it’s the people they want to influence at the highest levels or future leaders who need inspiration to take action, a leader cannot lead without the ability to communicate effectively.

Peter Economy, author of Managing for Dummies, says that effective communication can be achieve by sticking to the 7 C’s: Clear, Consistent, Credible, Confident, Civil, Concise and Compassionate. Get these right and you’ll find your interactions with others to be more successful.

13. You are compassionate

Great leaders care about the well being of the people around them. And it pays dividends. A recent study found that employee loyalty is influenced more by having positive relationships at work than by the salary.

Great leaders are so effective because they’re able to generate loyal followers, in part due to a compassionate approach to their relationships.

14. You ask for forgiveness, not permission

People are hard wired to resist change. Triggers for change resistance include fear and habit. Great leaders know this and, guided by their belief in what’s right and their ability to think outside of the box and challenge the status quo, will move ahead with new and sometimes controversial projects in the interests of progress.

15. You are not afraid of making the big decisions

Stepping up to make the big calls is hard. That’s why it takes an extraordinary leader to do it. They don’t do it because it’s easy. They do it because they know that, in many cases, failure to make a decision is worse than making a bad one.

The ability to lead can be learned and this list is a great starting point. What leadership characteristics would you add to this list?

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Published on January 16, 2019

How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

We’re all busy, but sometimes we go through periods where the work piles up and it seems like it might never end.

You might have such a heavy workload that it feels too intimidating to even start.

You may have said yes to some or too many projects, and now you’re afraid you won’t be able to deliver.

That’s when you need to take a step back, take a deep breath, and start looking at what’s working and what’s not working.

Here’re 13 strategies you can use to get out from under your overwhelming workload:

1. Acknowledge You Can’t Do It All

Many of us have a tendency to think we can do more than we actually can. We take on more and more projects and responsibility and wear numerous hats.

We all have the opportunity to have and take on more work than we can reasonably expect to get done. Unfortunately, our workload is not static. Even now, while you are reading this article, I’m guessing that your inbox is filling up with fresh new tasks.

To make real, effective progress, you have to have both the courage and resourcefulness to say, “This is not working”. Acknowledge that you can’t do it all and look for better solutions.

At any given time in your life, there are likely many things that aren’t going according to plan. You have to be willing to be honest with yourself and those around you about what’s not working for you, both personally and professionally.

The more you exercise your ability to tell the truth about what’s working and what’s not working, the faster you’ll make progress.

2. Focus on Your Unique Strengths

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a leader or working as part of a team, every individual has unique strengths they can bring to the table.

The challenge is that many people end up doing things that they’re simply not very good at.

In the pursuit of reaching your goals or delivering a project, people end up doing everything themselves or taking on things that don’t play to their unique strengths. This can result in frustration, overwhelm and overwork.

It can mean projects taking a lot longer to complete because of knowledge gaps, or simply not utilizing the unique strengths of other people you work with.

It is often not about how to complete this project more effectively but who can help deliver this project.

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So, what are your unique strengths that will ensure your workload is delivered more effectively? Here’re some questions to help you reflect:

  • Are you a great strategist?
  • Are you an effective planner?
  • Is Project Management your strength?
  • Is communication and bringing people together your strength?
  • Are you the ideas person?
  • Is Implementation your strength?

Think about how you can bring the biggest value to your work and the projects you undertake.

3. Use the Strengths of Your Team

One of the simplest ways to manage your workload effectively is to free up your time so you bring your highest level of energy, focus and strengths to each project.

Delegation or better teamwork is the solution.

Everyone has unique strengths. It’s essential to think teamwork rather than working in isolation to ensure projects can be completed effectively. Besides, every time you give away a task or project that doesn’t play to your unique strengths, you open up an opportunity to do something you’re more talented at. This will empower both yourself and those around you.

Rather than taking on all the responsibilities yourself, look at who you can work with to deliver the best results possible.

4. Take Time for Planning

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe”. – Abraham Lincoln

One hour of effective planning could save hours of time. Rather than just rushing in and getting started on projects, take the time to map everything in.

You can take the time to think about:

  • What’s the purpose of the project?
  • How Important is it?
  • When does it need to be delivered by?
  • What is the best result and worst result for this project?
  • What are the KPIs?
  • What does the project plan and key milestones look like?
  • Who is working on this project?
  • What is everyone’s responsibilities?
  • What tolerances can I add in?
  • What are the review stages?
  • What are the challenges we may face and the solutions for these challenges?

Having absolute clarity on the project, the project deliverables and the result you want can save a lot of time. It also gets you clear on the priorities and timelines, so you can block out the required amount of time to focus and concentrate.

5. Focus on Priorities

Not everything is a priority, although it can often feel, in the moment, that it is.

Whatever you’re working on, there is always the Most Urgent, Important or Most Valuable projects or tasks.

One tool you can use to maximize your productivity and focus on your biggest priorities is to use the Eisenhower Matrix. This strategic tool for taking action on the things that matter most is simple. You separate your actions based on four possibilities:

  1. Urgent and important (tasks you will do immediately).
  2. Important, but not urgent (tasks you will schedule to do later).
  3. Urgent, but not important (tasks you will delegate to someone else).
  4. Neither urgent nor important (tasks that you will eliminate).

James Clear has a great description on how to use the Eisenhower Matrix: How to be More Productive By Using the Eisenhower Box

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    The method I use with my coaching clients is to ask them to lay out their Top Five priorities for the day. Then to start with the most important priority first. At the end of the day, you review performance against these priorities.

    If you didn’t get everything accomplished, start the next day with your number one priority.

    If you are given additional task/projects during the day, then you will need to gauge their importance V the other priorities.

    6. Take Time Out

    To stay on top of a heavy workload, it’s important to take time out to rest and recuperate.

    If your energy levels are high and your mind and body is refreshed and alert, you are in more of a peak state to handle a heavy workload.

    Take time out of your day to go for a walk or get some exercise in. Leave early when possible and spend time with people who give you a lot of energy.

    In the background, it’s essential to get a good night’s sleep and eat healthily to sharpen the mind.

    Take a look at this article learn about The Importance of Scheduling Downtime.

    7. Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance

    Maintaining a healthy work-life balance can be tough. The balance we all crave is very different from one another.

    I’ve written before about 13 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life. Working longer and harder doesn’t mean achieving more, especially if you have no time to spend with the people that matter most. The quality of who you are as a person, the relationships you have, the time you spend in work, deciding on what matters most is completely within your control.

    Work-life balance is about finding peace within yourself to be fully present, wherever you are, whether that be in the office or at home, right now. It’s about choosing what matters most and creating your own balanced life.

    If you feel there is not enough balance, then it may be time to make a change.

    8. Stop Multitasking

    Multi-tasking is a myth. Your brain simply can’t work effectively by doing more than one thing at a time—at least more than one thing that requires focused attention.

    So get your list of priorities (see earlier point), do the most important thing first, then move to the next item and work down your list.

    When you split your focus over a multitude of different areas, you can’t consistently deliver a high performance. You won’t be fully present on the one task or project at hand.

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    If you allocate blocked time and create firm boundaries for specific activities and commitments, you won’t feel so overwhelmed or overworked with everything you have to do.

    9. Work in Blocks of Time

    To keep your energy up to produce your best results it’s essential to take regular breaks.

    I use the 60-60-30 method myself and teach it to my coaching clients.

    Work on a project for a sustained period of 50 minutes.

    Then take a 10-minute break. This could be taking a walk, having a healthy snack or just having a conversation with someone.

    Then continue to work on the project for a further 50 minutes.

    Then take another 10-minute break.

    Then take a complete 30-minute break to unplug from the work. This could be time for a proper lunch, a quick bit of exercise, reading or having a walk.

    By simply taking some time out, your energy levels stay up, the quality of your work improves and you reduce the risk of becoming burned out.

    10. Get Rid of Distractions

    Make an estimation on how many times you are distracted during an average working day. Now take that number and multiply it by 25. According to Gloria Mark in her study on The Cost of Interrupted Work, it takes us an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to return to the original task after interruption.[1]

    “Our research has shown that attention distraction can lead to higher stress, a bad mood and lower productivity.”

    Distractions don’t just take up your time during the distraction, they can derail your mental progress and focus for almost 25 minutes. So, if you are distracted 5 times per day, you could be losing almost 2 hours every day of productive work and almost 10 hours every week.

    If you have an important project to work on, find a space where you won’t be distracted, or try doing this.

    11. Commit Focused Time to Smaller Tasks

    You know sometimes, you need to simply tackle these tasks and take action on them. But there’s always something more pressing.

    Small tasks can often get in the way of your most important projects. They sit there on your daily To Do list but are often forgotten about because of more important priorities or because they hold no interest for you. But they take up mental energy. They clutter your mind.

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    Commit to spending a specific period of time completing all the small tasks you have on your To Do list. It will give you peace of mind and the space to focus more on your bigger priorities.

    12. Take a Time Audit

    Do you know exactly where your time is going each day? Are you spending too long on certain projects and tasks to the detriment of bigger opportunities?

    Spend a bit of time to analyze where you are spending your time. This insight will amaze you and give you the clarity to start adjusting where you focus your time and on what projects.

    You can start by taking a piece of paper and creating three columns:

    Column A is Priority Work. Column B is Good Work. Column C is low value work or stuff.

    Each day, write down the project or task and the time spent on each. Allocate that time to one of the columns.

    At the end of the week, record the total time spent in each column.

    If you are spending far too much time on certain types of work, look to change things so your focused time is in Column B and C.

    13. Protect Your Confidence

    It is essential to protect our confidence to ensure we don’t get overwhelmed, stressed and lose belief.

    When you have confidence as a daily resource, you are in a better position to problem solve, learn quicker, respond to anything, adjust to anything, and achieve your biggest opportunities.

    Confidence gives you the ability to transform fear into focused and relaxed thinking, communication, and action. This is key to put your mind into a productive state.

    When confidence is high, you can clearly see the possibilities at hand and create strategies to take advantage of them, or to solve the challenges you face each day.

    Final Words

    A heavy workload can be tough to deal with and can cause stress, burnout and ongoing frustration.

    The key is to tackle it head on, rather than let it go on and compound the long-term effects. Hopefully, you can take action on at least one of these tips.

    If it gets too much, and negatively affects your physical and mental health, it may be time to talk to someone. Instead of dealing with it alone and staying unhappier, resentful and getting to a point where you simply can’t cope, you have to make a change for your own sanity.

    Featured photo credit: Hannah Wei via unsplash.com

    Reference

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