Whether you’re starting out in your first middle-management job or dreaming of launching your own entrepreneurial endeavor, understanding critical components of leadership is essential for long-term success. True leaders take time to grow and aren’t simply the result of a prestigious degree or a nameplate on an office door. Becoming a respected leader is often the result of years of hard work and a dedicated effort to earn the trust of others.
If you yearn to someday earn the respect of your peers, following are seven tips to help you become an exceptional leader.
Become an Expert Listener
The more you listen, the more you learn. Don’t spend your time thinking of your response, but instead tune in to what the other person is saying. The better you become at listening, the better your chances are of becoming a go-to source of support. Building relationships early in your career can turn into valuable networking opportunities later in life.
Hire for Passion
Skills can be taught, but you can’t teach passion. If you interview candidates who lack specific skill sets, but are passionate about your niche and your team’s vision, you are better off doubling-down on a candidate with drive versus one with degrees.
Inspire Early and Often
It is never too early to try to inspire others in your work environment. Seize every opportunity to lead by example. Leaders grow over time; your willingness to inspire can help cement your reputation as a trusted voice of reason and potential promotion candidate.
Humility is Preferable to Arrogance
While self-confidence is admirable, don’t let your self-assuredness inflate your ego beyond control. A cocky, arrogant leader is one who others love ‘bringing down a peg or two’. Focus on the contributions of your team instead of your prowess as a people-pusher.
Filter Your Flow
There’s no need to dispense every piece of wisdom you have floating around inside your brain. If you only occasionally espouse wisdom to your staff, they are more likely to regard you as a thought leader. Instead of being a know-it-all, make sure what you have to say truly is valuable before you decide to share your wisdom with your team.
Analyze Your Mistakes
Whether it is losing a supplier or failing to close a sale, make a habit of analyzing your mistakes. Instead of just chalking up your losses to ‘that’s the way the cookie crumbles’, try to understand the missteps that occurred along the way. Taking the time to systematically review mistakes helps you spot the early warning signs the next time you encounter a similar situation.
Work Ethics Matter
Ensure you are displaying the same work ethic you expect of your employees. If the boss is known to be a slacker, your team is likely to follow your lead. Leading by example in terms of work output can help you build a stronger and more motivated team.
Paying attention to your attitude and ethics on an ongoing basis can help you become a better boss and a more desirable candidate for promotion. While cocky know-it-alls might get more attention, it is the dependable, trustworthy candidate that is likely to be called upon when true leadership is required.
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