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How to Turn Yourself Into A Powerful Leader

How to Turn Yourself Into A Powerful Leader

Do you talk, or listen? Do you demand, or motivate? Do you want to be a boss, or a leader? Leaders make great bosses but sadly, not every boss makes a leader. The fact that someone is in a position of authority doesn’t mean that they are respected or followed.

We can all name quite a few ‘bosses’, managers and small business owners who are tolerated, ignored or openly disrespected by their employees. As soon as they end up in the “my boss is a jerk” category, the company’s productivity plummets, the sales drop, and employees start sending out their resumes during work hours.

Fortunately, with the right knowledge and a little bit of effort, every boss can turn into a powerful leader.

Here are 11 tips that will help you turn yourself into a powerful leader who is followed, respected and admired.

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1. Use powerful body language

When it comes to body language, a ‘fake it ‘til you make it’ principle works wonders in boosting your self-confidence and feeling more powerful. There are three quick changes you can make to your body language that will noticeably improve your self-image and send the right message to those around you:

  • Make eye contact. Look people in the eye when you speak to them. If you find yourself in public places or social situations, scan the room and look at people. Don’t stare though…it’s unnerving!
  • Smile! Yes, powerful leaders do smile. They don’t frown. They don’t have an icy expression that sends shivers down people’s spine. And they certainly don’t look like they have just smelled a dead skunk. A smile is not a sign of weakness. It’s a message that says you are friendly, approachable and confident.
  • Strong posture communicates confidence and authority, so straighten your shoulders, raise your head a little and stand tall.

2. Have powerful goals

Often it is not a leader that people follow, but the powerful vision that they communicate. Make sure that you are very clear about your goals and verify if everyone is on the same page as you. It is your job as a leader to make it simple for your team to understand the mission and know their part in achieving it.

3. Focus on the big picture

It is very easy to get distracted by new trends, new markets, and new projects, and lose sight of the big picture. Achieving and maintaining success takes discipline, focus and being clear on what the priorities are. When you extend yourself too far or start to micromanage, the quality of your work suffers across the board. Which brings us to the next point…

4. Trust and inspire your team

Anthony Robbins said it best, “A true leader is someone who inspires others to become more of who they truly are.” It is the responsibility of a leader to inspire, recognize and channel people’s talents in the best way to meet larger goals.

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Sometimes, the greatest leap you can make as a powerful leader is stepping aside and putting more trust in your team. It is surprising what people can achieve when they are given responsibility and freedom to make their own decisions.

5. Surround yourself with the right people

The ‘right’ people, in this case, are not the ones who think and act exactly like you. It’s actually the other way around. The best strategy for success is to hire people who are diverse, passionate and smart – and then listen closely to their perspectives.

It may be hard on our ego to accept that the best ideas don’t always come from us and that people in lower positions could actually be more talented or more experienced than we are, but powerful leaders, unlike wannabes, are more focused on getting results than making themselves look good.

6. Commit to being reliable

This tip is pretty self-explanatory: nobody respects a leader who doesn’t deliver on their promises. What you do speaks much louder to people than what you say. Besides, your word is only as valuable as experience shows it to be. So practice what you preach and don’t ever give someone a reason to doubt your abilities.

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7. Prepare to challenge the status quo

Common sense and conventional wisdom work great in day-to-day situations for most people. The thing is…leaders aren’t most people and there is nothing ‘conventional’ or ‘common’ about breaking out of your comfort zone and taking a different route.

It would be naïve to believe that as a leader you will never encounter opposition or resistance from other people. There will always be somebody who believes that implementing new ideas is too risky and trying a different approach to business is a sure-fire way to fail. It’s perfectly normal. Be prepared to defend your point of view and challenge the status quo. It was Aristotle who said, “There is only one way to avoid criticism: do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.” And he mentored Alexander the Great, so we should assume that he knew a thing or two about powerful leadership.

8. Invest in education and stay sharp

In order for people to follow you, they should believe that you are competent enough and more skilled than they are. It should be your priority to stay on top of things by constantly improving your skills, expanding your knowledge and gaining an edge on the latest trends and technology in your field.

9. Seek mentorship

Being able to discuss your work, confront your ideas or ask for advice from someone whose opinion you respect is beneficial for every leader – even a CEO. Passion needs to be balanced by wisdom that only comes with years of experience and repeated failures. You can wait to gain this experience, or you can find a mentor who will help you see things in a different way, and possibly prevent some costly mistakes.

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Every successful person – every great leader – has always had a mentor. You should have one too!

10. Offer solutions

There will always be people who will bring problems to your attention. It’s just the way it works. But as a leader they will expect you to have a solution ready. If you want to become a powerful leader, you have to train your mind to stay positive and focus on solutions. It doesn’t mean that you should be bubbling with joy and excitement all the time. But it’s important not to fall into the other extreme and lose your cool when the pressure rises.

11. Recognize your staff

Follow what I call the “PRST” Rule. That stands for “Praise – Recognize – Say Thanks”. Psychologists studying productivity at work discovered that in order to improve employees’ performance and motivation the ratio between positive and negative remarks should be kept at 3:1. It means that it takes three praises to neutralize the damage made by one negative remark. The same, by the way, is true for personal relationships and marriage (only the positive to negative ratio should be 5:1).

Make sure that you pay attention to your offhand remarks and make an effort to recognize people’s efforts. The U.S. Department of Labor says that the number one reason people leave their jobs is because they “don’t feel appreciated.” What does it cost you to say “Thank you,” or to praise someone’s efforts? Don’t take people for granted and they will appreciate you more as well.

What are your thoughts? What steps have you taken to become a more powerful leader?

More by this author

Arina Nikitina

The author of "Real Goal Getting guide" and she is on a mission to help people achieve goals, and keep focused and motivated.

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Last Updated on March 29, 2021

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

When I left university I took a job immediately, I had been lucky as I had spent a year earning almost nothing as an intern so I was offered a role. On my first day I found that I had not been allocated a desk, there was no one to greet me so I was left for some hours ignored. I happened to snipe about this to another employee at the coffee machine two things happened. The first was that the person I had complained to was my new manager’s wife, and the second was, in his own words, ‘that he would come down on me like a ton of bricks if I crossed him…’

What a great start to a job! I had moved to a new city, and had been at work for less than a morning when I had my first run in with the first style of bad manager. I didn’t stay long enough to find out what Mr Agressive would do next. Bad managers are a major issue. Research from Approved Index shows that more than four in ten employees (42%) state that they have previously quit a job because of a bad manager.

The Dream Type Of Manager

My best manager was a total opposite. A man who had been the head of the UK tax system and was working his retirement running a company I was a very junior and green employee for. I made a stupid mistake, one which cost a lot of time and money and I felt I was going to be sacked without doubt.

I was nervous, beating myself up about what I had done, what would happen. At the end of the day I was called to his office, he had made me wait and I had spent that day talking to other employees, trying to understand where I had gone wrong. It had been a simple mistyped line of code which sent a massive print job out totally wrong. I learn how I should have done it and I fretted.

My boss asked me to step into his office, he asked me to sit down. “Do you know what you did?” I babbled, yes, I had been stupid, I had not double-checked or asked for advice when I was doing something I had not really understood. It was totally my fault. He paused. “Will you do that again?” Of course I told him I would not, I would always double check, ask for help and not try to be so clever when I was not!

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“Okay…”

That was it. I paused and asked, should I clear my desk. He smiled. “You have learnt a valuable lesson, I can be sure that you will never make a mistake like that again. Why would I want to get rid of an employee who knows that?”

I stayed with that company for many years, the way I was treated was a real object lesson in good management. Sadly, far too many poor managers exist out there.

The Complete Catalogue of Bad Managers

The Bully

My first boss fitted into the classic bully class. This is so often the ‘old school’ management by power style. I encountered this style again in the retail sector where one manager felt the only way to get the best from staff was to bawl and yell.

However, like so many bullies you will often find that this can be someone who either knows no better or is under stress and they are themselves running scared of the situation they have found themselves in.

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The Invisible Boss

This can either present itself as management from afar (usually the golf course or ‘important meetings) or just a boss who is too busy being important to deal with their staff.

It can feel refreshing as you will often have almost total freedom with your manager taking little or no interest in your activities, however you will soon find that you also lack the support that a good manager will provide. Without direction you may feel you are doing well just to find that you are not delivering against expectations you were not told about and suddenly it is all your fault.

The Micro Manager

The frustration of having a manager who feels the need to be involved in everything you do. The polar opposite to the Invisible Boss you will feel that there is no trust in your work as they will want to meddle in everything you do.

Dealing with the micro-manager can be difficult. Often their management style comes from their own insecurity. You can try confronting them, tell them that you can do your job however in many cases this will not succeed and can in fact make things worse.

The Over Promoted Boss

The Over promoted boss categorises someone who has no idea. They have found themselves in a management position through service, family or some corporate mystery. They are people who are not only highly unqualified to be managers they will generally be unable to do even your job.

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You can find yourself persistently frustrated by the situation you are in, however it can seem impossible to get out without handing over your resignation.

The Credit Stealer

The credit stealer is the boss who will never publically acknowledge the work you do. You will put in the extra hours working on a project and you know that, in the ‘big meeting’ it will be your credit stealing boss who will take all of the credit!

Again it is demoralising, you see all of the credit for your labour being stolen and this can often lead to good employees looking for new careers.

3 Essential Ways to Work (Cope) with Bad Managers

Whatever type of bad boss you have there are certain things that you can do to ensure that you get the recognition and protection you require to not only remain sane but to also build your career.

1. Keep evidence

Whether it is incidents with the bully or examples of projects you have completed with the credit stealer you will always be well served to keep notes and supporting evidence for projects you are working on.

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Buy your own notebook and ensure that you are always making notes, it becomes a habit and a very useful one as you have a constant reminder as well as somewhere to explore ideas.

Importantly, if you do have to go to HR or stand-up for yourself you will have clear records! Also, don’t always trust that corporate servers or emails will always be available or not tampered with. Keep your own content.

2. Hold regular meetings

Ensure that you make time for regular meetings with your boss. This is especially useful for the over-promoted or the invisible boss to allow you to ‘manage upwards’. Take charge where you can to set your objectives and use these meetings to set clear objectives and document the status of your work.

3. Stand your ground, but be ready to jump…

Remember that you don’t have to put up with poor management. If you have issues you should face them with your boss, maybe they do not know that they are coming across in a bad way.

However, be ready to recognise if the situation is not going to change. If that is the case, keep your head down and get working on polishing your CV! If it isn’t working, there will be something better out there for you!

Good luck!

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