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How to Turn Yourself Into A Powerful Leader

How to Turn Yourself Into A Powerful Leader
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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.

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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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Published on July 27, 2021

15 Smart Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips to Follow

15 Smart Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips to Follow
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During the pandemic, video conferencing replaced in-person meetings and has now become the standard option for business meetings. Over the past 17 months, most workers have gotten past the video conferencing learning curve with Zoom or Microsoft Teams (or their platform of choice).

But just as with in-person meetings, attention can wax and wane. Some say we’re just not used to staring at ourselves so much on the screen. Instead of fixating on that, try employing smart video conferencing etiquette, or you may risk indiscretions that will flag you as a slacker.

Put the Pro in Professional

After more than a year of fine-tuning, here are the new rules of video conferencing etiquette.

1. Mute Your Mobile and Other Devices

The first video conference etiquette you need to know is muting your other devices. Just as in the pre-COVID days, someone’s obnoxious ring tone blaring Taylor Swift’s newest single in the middle of a meeting is also an annoyance if it happens during a Zoom meeting and so is the inevitable fumbling to turn off the sound. Even the apologies to the group get tiresome.

Also, when notifications are activated on the computer that you’re using for the meeting, the incoming message takes over the audio and you’ll miss out on snippets of the conversation. Be sure to eliminate this possible faux pas.

2. Dress the Part

While working from home, you may have fallen into the habit of slipping on your comfiest T-shirt each day. Hey, no judgments! But before you log on to your video conference, try to make an effort with your appearance.

Depending on your company culture and the importance of your meeting, consider dressing the part of the professional whom you wish to project. It will help you feel more self-assured, and others will likely take you more seriously.

For women, wear light make-up, put on earrings, and make sure your blouse is crisply pressed. For men, show up freshly shaved. Wearing a crisp collared shirt in a solid color will usually suffice.

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Pro Tip: Stay away from wearing white or black, unless those colors look great on you. Consider wearing light blue or brown instead.

3. Stage Your Workspace

Have you noticed the backdrops of experts interviewed on news shows? Bookshelves and photographs are carefully curated, and no busy-patterned furniture or artwork is in sight.

Take note of what appears behind you when you choose the location of your video conferences. Piles of junk mail on the table or stacks of folded laundry on the couch will convey more about your personal life than you care to share. Make sure you remove clutter from the camera’s eye, and present a tidy, orderly workspace to your colleagues, coworkers, and bosses.

4. Put Some Thought Into Lighting and Perspective

Be aware that in a video conference, your computer camera can actually make you look up to ten pounds heavier depending on where you sit. But you can easily drop those added pounds by moving back from the screen to diminish the wide-angle distortion.

Frame your head on the screen by tilting the screen up or down. Also, it’s best to not place yourself in front of a window or bright light, which makes you appear in shadow. Instead, face the light source, moving it (or yourself) until you have a flattering amount of illumination. You can also purchase some small spotlights that allow you to add light as needed.

Pro Tip: If your lights add too much redness to your skin, consider counter-balancing with a green filter.

Remember That Half of Life Is Showing Up

5. Arrive on Time

In the old days of in-person meetings, it was nearly impossible to slip in late into a meeting unnoticed. In today’s video conferences, logging in late still shows poor form. Instead, strive to arrive five minutes early and get yourself settled.

Once the meeting is underway, the host may be less attentive about late arrivals waiting to be let in. Diverting the host’s attention away from the meeting with a tardy entry request is the ultimate giveaway that you didn’t honor the schedule. If you don’t want a black mark against you, log in on time.

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6. Turn on Your Video

Few people like to see their face on the screen, but buck up and turn on your camera in video conferences. In most cases, it’s better to be a face on a screen than a name in a blank square. Your statements will be more memorable when other meeting attendees can see you.

If you need to turn off the video, either because of a poor connection, some commotion in the room, or a need for a quick break, give a short explanation via the chat feature. Then, go back on video as soon as you’re able.

Pro Tip: Keep your explanation for your departure pithy. “Sorry! Doorbell rang. Back in five” says it all. Be sure to honor what you say in chat and really do return in five minutes.

7. Plan Ahead Before Sharing Your Screen

Don’t be one of those people who makes everyone else wait as you click through folders in search of a document. That’s just poor video conferencing etiquette. If you know you’ll need to share a document or video on your screen, prepare by pulling it out of its folder and onto your desktop. Also, clean up the files and folders on your desktop to reduce clutter and facilitate easy access. Close other programs like chat, calendar notifications, and email. Disable pop-up notifications to ensure there’ll be no unforeseen distractions.

Be sure to remind the host before the meeting that you’ll need them to activate the screen-sharing function. Show courtesy once you’re finished by hitting “stop share” to return to the screen with participants.

Attend to the Pesky Details

8. Make Sure That Meetings Remain Right-Sized

With the easy accessibility of video conferencing, it can be tempting to extend the meeting invitation beyond the core group and include everyone peripherally involved in a project. But just as with in-person meetings, the more people involved, the more unwieldy the meeting becomes.

Use good judgment when asking others to sit through a video conference so that you don’t needlessly take up others’ time and so that participants can be fully engaged.

9. Remember to “Unmute” Before You Speak

Most of us are likely able to count on one hand the number of video conferences when someone didn’t have to be reminded, “You’re on mute!” Forgetting to unmute before speaking has become one of the most common missteps in video conferencing.[1]

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Show everyone your impeccable video-conferencing poise by managing your mute feature with flawless control.

10. Stay on Point to Keep the Meeting Length in Check

As with in-person meetings, an agenda with assigned time limits for discussions remains necessary to keep a meeting focused. Data shows, however, that video conferencing can actually reduce meeting time.[2] Reasons include the elimination of commuting time and the ability to screen share and annotate to keep everyone on task.

Additionally, side conversations are virtually impossible with video conferencing now that you can no longer have back-and-forth exchanges with the person beside you.

Pro Tip: If you’re running the meeting, let attendees know in advance the protocol for the chat feature. Is it okay for them to “chat among themselves” or not? (See point 11, as well.)

Talking Has a Time and a Place

11. Chat Appropriately

Just like side conversations or texting in an in-person meeting, the use of the chat feature during a video conference can be disrespectful unless it’s directed to all participants. Hence, it’s good video conferencing etiquette to mind your use of the chat.

At the start of the meeting, you may want to ask the host if it’s alright for participants to use the chat feature. This allows them to disable it if they choose. Used appropriately, it can be a helpful tool to clarify or amplify an earlier point once the conversation has moved on or to let the group know that you need to sign off early (and why).

12. Use the “Raise Hand” Feature to Avoid Interruptions

The slight lag in many video conferences can result in speaking over another person if you attempt to jump into a conversation. To avoid this awkward interruption, indicate when you have something to add to the discussion with the raise-your-hand feature that signals the host you would like to speak. This effective meeting management device makes video conferencing run more smoothly, especially with a large group, but it must be activated and monitored by the host.

Pro Tip: For meetings of six to ten people, sometimes the old-fashioned raising of your physical hand may be the best option. But it’s up to the meeting host. Ask them what they would prefer, and follow that.

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13. Don’t Record the Session or Take Photos Without Prior Permission

In this case, not sharing is caring. The “sharing culture” made popular through social media has little place in video conferencing. Before recording a meeting or capturing a screenshot of the participants, always ask for consent in advance from the full roster of attendees. Knowing that a video conference will be photographed or recorded could have a bearing on what others are willing to discuss.

Manage Yourself

14. Minimize Distractions

While de-activating audio and video features can keep distractions from affecting the other participants, you will need to manage noise and disruptions on your end to give your full attention to the meeting.

Move out of high-traffic zones in your home, keep your door closed, and ask family members to be considerate.

15. Save Snacking for Later

Save snacking for later—or earlier. Eating while on video conference is a no-no. Munching in front of the group while close to the camera—as you are when video conferencing—subjects the participants to an up-close and (too) personal view of your food consumption process.

However, it’s perfectly fine to sip quietly from a glass of water or cup of coffee or tea. If the meeting threatens to last for more than two hours, you may want to ask the host in advance to schedule a five-minute break at the halfway point.

Final Thoughts

Even though bosses are now beginning to ask workers to spend some of their workdays on-site, up to 80 percent will permit employees to work remotely at least part of the time, which means more video conferencing in your future.[3] Mastering these video conferencing etiquette tips will help you dial in—as well as dial back—your participation and demonstrate your unwavering level of engagement to the team.

Featured photo credit: Chris Montgomery via unsplash.com

Reference

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