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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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Last Updated on March 15, 2019

How to Be a Leader Who Is Inspiring and Influential

How to Be a Leader Who Is Inspiring and Influential

When I began managing people 15 years ago, I thought having a fancy title was synonymous with influence. Over time, I learned that power is conferred based on likeability, authenticity, courage, relationships and consistent behavior. When leaders cultivate these attributes, they earn power, which really means influence.

Understanding influence is essential to professional growth, and companies rise and fall based on the quality of their leadership.

In this article, we will look into the essentials of effective leadership and how to be a leader who is inspiring and influential.

What Makes a Leader Fail?

A host of factors influence a leader’s ability to succeed. To the extent that leaders fail to outline a compelling vision and strategy, they risk losing the trust and confidence of their teams. Employees want to know where a company is going and the strategy for how they will get there. Having this information enables employees to feel safe, and it allows them to see mistakes as part of the learning journey versus as fatal occurrences.

If employees and customers do not believe a company’s leadership is authentic and inspiring, they may disengage, or they may be less inclined to offer constructive criticism that can help a company innovate or help a leader improve.

And it is not just the leadership at the top that matters. Middle managers play a distinct role in guiding teams. Depending on the company’s size, employees may have more access to mid-level managers than they do members of the C-suite, meaning their supervisors and managers have greater influence on the employee and the customer experience.

What Is Effective Leadership?

Effective leadership is inspiring, and it is influential. Cultivating inspiring and influential leaders requires building relationships across the company.

Leaders must be connected to both the teams they lead as well as to their own colleagues and managers. This is key as titles do not make a person a leader, nor do they automatically confer influence. These are earned through trusting relationships. This explains why some leaders can get more out of their teams than others and why some leaders experience soaring profits and engagement while others sizzle out.

Eric Garton said in an April 25, 2017, Harvard Business Review article:[1]

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“… inspiring leaders are those who use their unique combination of strengths to motivate individuals and teams to take on bold missions – and hold them accountable for results. And they unlock higher performance through empowerment, not command and control.”

How to Be an Inspiring and Influential Leader

To be an inspiring and influential leader requires:

1. Courage

The late poet Maya Angelou once said,

“Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can’t practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage.”

Courage is required in the workplace when implementing new strategies, especially when they go against professional norms.

For instance, I heard Lisa TerKeurst, bestselling author and founder of Proverbs 31 Ministries, explain her decision to move away from her company’s magazine. While the organization had long had a magazine, she saw a future where it didn’t exist.

In order to make the switch, she risked angering her team members and customers. She took a chance, and what started out as a monthly newsletter, has grown into a multi-dimensional organization boasting half a million followers. Had Lisa not found the courage to change the direction of her organization, they undoubtedly would not have been able to experience such exponential growth.

It also takes courage to give and receive feedback. When leaders see employees who are not living into the company’s mission or who are engaging in behavior that may undermine their long-term success, one must risk temporary angst and speak candidly with the colleague in question.

Similarly, it takes courage to hear constructive criticism and try to change. In business, as in life, courage is necessary for being an inspiring and influential leader.

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2. A Commitment to Face Your Internal Demons.

If you feel great about yourself, enter a leadership position. You are likely to be triggered in ways you didn’t think possible. You are also likely to receive feedback that may leave you second-guessing yourself and your leadership skills.

The truth about leading others is that you get to a point where you realize that it is difficult to take people to places where you yourself haven’t gone.

To be an influential and inspiring leader, you have to face your own demons and vow to continually improve. Influential leaders take their personal evolution serious, and they invest in coaching, therapy and mindfulness to ensure that their personal struggles do not overshadow their professional development.

3. A Willingness to Accept Feedback

Inspiring and influential leaders are not afraid to accept feedback. In fact, they actively solicit it. They understand that everyone in their life has a lesson to teach them, and they are willing to accept it.

Inspirational leaders understand that feedback is neither good nor bad but rather an offering that is critical to growth. Even when it hurts or is an affront to the ego, influential leaders understand that feedback is critical to their ability to lead.

4. Likability

Some people will argue that leaders need not worry about being liked but should instead focus on being respected. I disagree. Both are important.

When team members like their boss and believe their boss likes them, they are more likely to go the extra mile to fulfill departmental or organizational goals. Likable leaders are moved to the front of the line when it comes to being influential.

Relatedly, when colleagues feel management dislikes them, they experience internal stress and can spend unnecessary time focusing on the source of their manager’s discontent versus the work they have been hired to do.

So, likability is important for both the leader and the people she leads.

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5. Vulnerability

Vulnerability is critical for being an inspiring leader. People want the truth. They admire leaders who can occasionally demonstrate vulnerability. It promotes deeper relationships and inspires trust.

When leaders can showcase vulnerability appropriately, they destroy the illusion that one must be perfect to be a leader. They also demonstrate that vulnerability is not a dirty word; they too can be vulnerable and ask for a helping hand when necessary.

6. Authenticity

Authenticity is about living up to one’s stated values in public and behind closed doors.

Influential leaders are authentic. They set to live out their values and use those values to guide their decisions. The interesting thing about leadership is that people are not looking for perfect leaders. They are, in part, looking for leaders who are authentic.

7. A True Understanding of Inspiration

Effective leaders are inspirational. They understand the power of words and deeds and use both strategically.

Inspiring leaders appropriately use stories and narratives to enable the teams around them to see common situations in an entirely new light.

Inspirational leaders also showcase grit and triumph while convincing the people around them that success and victory are attainable.

Finally, inspiring leaders encourage the teams they lead to tap into their own genius. They convince others that genius is not reserved for a select few but that most people have it in them.

As explained in the article True Leadership: What Separates a Leader from a Boss:

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“A leader creates visions and motivates team members to work together towards the same goal.”

8. An Ability to See the Humanity in Others

Inspiring and influential leaders see the humanity in others. Rather than treating their teams as mere tools to accomplish organizational goals, they believe the people around them are unique beings with inherent value.

This means knowing when to pause to address personal challenges and dispelling with the myth that the personal is separate from the professional.

9. A Passion for Continual Learning

Inspiring and influential leaders are committed to continual learning. They invest in their own development and take responsibility for their professional growth.

These leaders understand that like a college campus, the workplace is a laboratory for learning. They believe that they can learn from multiple generations in the workplace as well as from people from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds.

Influential leaders proactively seek out opportunities for learning.

The Bottom Line

No one said leadership was easy, but it is also a joy. Influencing others to action and positively impacting the lives of others is a reward unto itself.

Since leadership abounds, there is an abundance of resources to help you grow into the type of leader who inspires and influences others.

More Resources About Effective Leadership

Featured photo credit: Markus Spiske via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Harvard Business Review: How to Be an Inspiring Leader

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