Here’s How to Be a GREAT Leader

Consider your leadership abilities: Do you project your strengths in the best light, or are you low key and diminished by low self-esteem? Isn’t it time you gave yourself permission to be the natural leader you are? The following seven traits of outstanding leaders will empower you in all your business dealings.

1. ThinkstockPhotos-537291165Know what you want and go for it.
Is it money, attention, career, family? What do you really want? Create your own definition of success, so you’ll know when you arrive. Ask yourself where you want to be in one year. In two years? In five? Create a success map – your personal plan for reaching your career destination. Include small steps you can take now to use your leadership skills and feel successful.

2. Fail proudly.
Successful leaders are willing to take risks and make mistakes. Go beyond your fear of being “wrong” and tap into your rich intuitive sense of leadership. Consider each “mistake” you make an unplanned learning opportunity. Focus on what you learned from the experience – not on being “wrong” – and decide how you’d do it differently next time.

3. Be your own best publicist.
“If I work really hard, the right people will notice,” Jean thought. But it didn’t take long for Jean to realize how wrong she was. Jean received an award for her contributions to a non-profit newsletter, for example, but although she’d written several outstanding articles, no one in her company ever saw them. Jean needs to learn what many successful leaders have discovered: Wait for someone to notice your achievements, and you’ll likely wait forever. You must make them notice!

ThinkstockPhotos-480165909Jean could distribute copies of the newsletter articles to her boss and perhaps write an article about her award for the company newsletter. Actions like these will bring the recognition she deserves. You can’t count on others to understand how great your talents are. When you allow yourself to be visible and honestly take credit for your achievements, you model leadership behavior.

4. Identify your “mapping mentors.”
You wouldn’t go into a foreign country without a map. So why try to discover your company’s leadership paths without a guide or mentor? A mentor offers you support, encouragement and insight. You, in turn, make your mentor look good. Look for someone who has the right positional power and experience – someone who can help you reach your goals.

5. Plan for continuous growth.
The words “job security” are a contradiction in terms today. For this reason, your leadership path must include plans for increasing your promotability and marketability. Continue your education, volunteer in professional and community organizations and broaden your networking group.

ThinkstockPhotos-777470826. Network, network, network.
Step outside your comfort zone and talk to people in other departments – people you don’t know well. Begin your networking by bringing people information. Don’t focus on what you can get from people – concentrate on what you have to share. Your expertise, your conversational skills, your knowledge of people and your industry are gifts you can give to others. Consider every person you talk to a potential resource.

ThinkstockPhotos-1786056747. Keep your ear to the ground.
“Did you hear that the vice president is being transferred? Rumor has it that they’re promoting from within. At least that’s what his secretary just told me.” Is this gossip or information you can use to your advantage? Don’t discount what may seem like “office politics” too hastily. The key is to listen closely and be careful about what you repeat. Part of being a strong leader is having information.

Adopt the seven traits of the capable leader and watch your career leap onto the fast track to success!

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