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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 December 3, 2019

7 Powerful Steps to Achieve Career Success

7 Powerful Steps to Achieve Career Success

I often hear people say, “I want to be successful but don’t know where to start” or “I’ve achieved career success yet I’m not happy.” And then I ask, “what does career success mean to you?” And many have a hard time articulating their response with much conviction.

It’s common that people lack clarity, focus, and direction. And when you layer on thoughts and actions that are misaligned with your values, this only adds to your misdirected quest to achieve your career success.

A word of caution. It’s going to take some time for you to think about and work on your own path for career success. You need to set aside time and be intentional about the steps you take to achieve career success. In my opinion, this step-by-step guide is apart of your life philosophy.

1. Define Career Success for Yourself

Pause. Give yourself time and space for self-reflection.

What does career success mean to you?

This is about defining your career success:

  • Not what you think you ‘should’ do
  • Not what people may think of you
  • Not adjusting to friends and family’s judgements
  • Not taking actions based on societal or community norms

“A flower does not think of competing to the flower next to it. It just blooms” – Zen Shin

When you strip away all your external influences and manage your inner critic, what are you left with? You need to define career success that best suits your life situation.

There’s no fixed answer. Everyone is different. Your answer will evolve and be impacted by life events. Here are a few examples of career success:

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  • Work-life balance
  • Opportunities for growth and advancement
  • Feeling valued that my contributions had an impact

Now even as you reflect on the examples above, the descriptions are not specific enough. You’ve got to take it deeper:

  • What do you mean by work-life balance?
  • What do you consider to be opportunities for growth and advancement?
  • How do you like to be recognized for your work? How do you know if your contributions have had an impact?

Let’s take a look at some potential responses to the questions above:

  • I want more time with my family, and less stress at work
  • I want increased responsibilities, to manage a team, a higher income, and the prestige of working at a certain level in the company
  • I’d like my immediate leader to send me a thank-you note or take me out for coffee to genuinely express her or his gratitude. I’ll know I’ve made an impact if I get feedback from my coworkers, leaders and other stakeholders.

Further questions to reflect on to help narrow the focus for the above responses:

  • What are some opportunities that can help you get traction on getting more time with your family? And decrease your stress at work?
  • What’s most important for you in the next 12 months?
  • What’s the significance of receiving others’ feedback?

Now, I’m only scratching the surface with these examples. It takes time to do the inner work and build a solid foundation.

Start this exercise by first asking what career success means to you and then ask yourself meaningful questions to help you dig deeper.

What types of themes emerge from your responses? What keywords or phrases keep coming up for you?

2. Know Your Values

Values are the principles and beliefs that guide your decisions, behaviors and actions. When you’re not aligned with your values and act in a way that conflicts with your beliefs, it’ll feel like life is a struggle.

There are simple value exercises that can help you quickly determine your core values. This one designed by Carnegie Mellon University can help you discover your top 5 values.[1]

Once you have your top 5 values keep them visible. Your brain needs reminders that these are your top values. Here are some ways to make them stick:

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  • Write them on cue cards or notes and post it in your office
  • Take a picture of your values and use it as a screensaver on your phone
  • Put the words on your fridge
  • Add the words on your vision board

Where will your value words be placed in your physical environment so that you have a constant reminder of them?

3. Define Your Short-Term and Long-Term Goals

When writing your short-term and long term life goals, use the SMART framework – Specific Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Treat this as a brainstorming exercise. Your potential and possibilities are limitless.

How you define short-term and long-term is entirely up to you. Short-term can be 30 days, 90 days, or 6 months. Maybe long-term goals are 4 months, 1 year, or 10 years.

Here are a few self-reflection questions to help you write your goals:[2]

  • What would you want to do today if you had the power to make it the way you want?
  • If no hurdles are in the way, what would you like to achieve?
  • If you have the freedom to do whatever you want, what would it be?
  • What type of impact do you want to have on people?
  • Who are the people you most admire? What is it about them or what they have that you’d want for your life or career?
  • What activities energize you? What’s one activity you most love?

Remember to revisit your core values as you refine yours goals:

  • Are your goals in or out of alignment with your core values?
  • What adjustments do you need to make to your goals? Maybe some of your goals can be deleted because they no longer align with your values.
  • How attainable are your goals? Breakdown your goals into digestible pieces.
  • Do your short-term goals move you towards attaining your long-term goals?

Get very clear and specific about your goals. Think about an archer – a person who shoots with a bow and arrows at a target. This person is laser focused on the target – the center of the bullseye. The target is your goal.

By focusing on one goal at a time and having that goal visible, you can behave and act in ways that will move you closer to your goal.

4. Determine Your Top Talents

What did you love doing as a kid? What made these moments fun? What did you have a knack for? What did you most cherish about these times? What are the common themes?

What work feels effortless? What work do you do that doesn’t seem like work? Think about work you can lose track of time doing and you don’t even feel tired of it.[3]

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What are your desires? Try it out. Experiment. Take action and start. How can you incorporate more of this type of work into your daily life?

What themes emerge from your responses? How do your responses compare to your responses from the values exercise and your goals?

What do you notice?

5. Identify ‘Feeling’ Words You Want to Experience

Do you have tendencies to use your head or heart to make decisions?

I have a very strong tendency to make rational, practical, and fact-based decisions using my head. It’s very rare for me to make decisions using my emotions. I was forced to learn how to make more intuitive decisions by listening to my gut when I was struggling with pivotal life decisions. I was forced to feel and listen to my inner voice to make decisions that feel most natural to me. This was very unfamiliar to me, however, it expanded my identity.

Review this list of Feeling Words. Use the same technique you use for the values exercise to narrow down how you want to feel.

Keep these words visible too!

Review your responses. What do you observe? What insights do you gain from these responses and those in the above steps?

6. Be Willing to Sit with Discomfort

Make career decisions aligned with your values, goals, talents and feelings. This is not for the faint hearted. It takes real work, courage and willingness to cut out the noise around you. You’ll need to sit with discomfort for a bit until you build up your muscle to hit the targets you want.

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Surround yourself with a supportive network to help you through these times.

“These pains you feel are messengers. Listen to them” – Rumi

7. Manage Your Own Career

Not to be cynical, but no one can make you happy but yourself. If you don’t take control of your career and manage it like your own business – no one will.

Discern between things that you can control and what you can’t control. For example, you may not be able to control who gets a promotion. However, you can control how you react to it and what you’ve learned about yourself in that situation.

Summing Up

For many who have gone through a career change or been impacted by life events, these steps may seem very basic. However, it’s sometimes the basics that we forget to do. The simple things and moments can edge us closer to our larger vision for ourselves.

Staying present and appreciating what you have today can sometimes help you achieve your long-term goals. For example, if you’re always talking about not having enough time and wanting work-life balance, think about what was good in your work day? Maybe you took a walk outside with your co-workers. This could be a small step to help you reframe how you can attain work-life balance.

Remember to take time for yourself. Hit pause, notice, observe and reflect to achieve career success by getting deliberate and intentional:

  1. Define Career Success for Yourself
  2. Know Your Values
  3. Define Your Short-Term and Long-Term Life and Goals
  4. Determine Your Top Talents
  5. Identify ‘Feeling’ Words You Want to Experience
  6. Be Willing to sit with Discomfort
  7. Manage Your Own Career

“When you stop chasing the wrong things you give the right things a chance to catch you.” – Lolly Daskal

Good luck and best wishes always!

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Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

Reference

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