It doesn’t matter what you do for a living. Eventually, someone will ask you to take the lead. it might be on a small project. It might be running a division. Some see leadership roles as an opportunity for growth. Others approach the role with trepidation. Don’t be your own worst enemy. Demonstrating leadership is a prerequisite for most promotions.
Leading can lead to great things. You might someday run a company or found a successful start-up. There are many paths to becoming an effective leader and not everyone makes it to the top. It’s not about how much money you have or your college connections. If you’re not reaching your true potential, take the time to ask why. Because even if you don’t see yourself as a natural born leader, there are things you can do to alter your position in a corporation –– and your trajectory. Here’s how to demonstrate leadership in the workplace.
Don’t Stay Silent
Bosses generally don’t promote wallflowers. Chances are your supervisor is an outgoing leader. According to an article in the Harvard Business Review The higher your boss’s position in a company, the better the chance they’ll be an extrovert.
Yet thoughtful introverts can excel in leadership roles. The secret is forcing yourself out of your comfort zone. Often the loudest voices dominate meetings. Just because they get attention doesn’t mean they have the best ideas. Prepare for meetings and even informal gatherings by jotting questions in a notebook. Once you’re in the conference room, take simple notes. If you don’t understand something, ask. Confident know-it-alls have wrecked businesses. Asking meaningful questions and making suggestions based on knowledge or experience is a great leadership quality. Extroverts think out loud while introverts usually take the time to get the job done from the beginning. “That’s why I think that introverts have tremendous leadership potential,” explains OneIMS president Solomon Thimothy. If there are supervisors who don’t fit the gregarious mold, get to know them. They may have advice you can adopt. Introverts often excel at one-on-one communication –– a vital skill for any leader. If you are extroverted, be cautious about blurting out your first thought on an issue. Take time to learn from the quiet ones.
Baseless optimism isn’t helpful but neither is unrelenting negativity. You don’t want to be seen as a constant stumbling block, the person who sees problems not solutions. Develop ways to question methods without offending the person suggesting them. Constructive criticism is sometimes used as a crutch for cruelty. Remember, leaders don’t waste time complaining about a problem, the spend time solving it. Negativity isn’t just bad for morale, it’s bad for money. Polling organization Gallup concluded that around 22 million U.S. workers are either extremely negative or actively disengaged ––costing the economy between $250 and $300 billion in lost productivity. Although the study came out in the 2000s, do you really believe the situation has improved? It doesn’t matter what’s going on in the world, if you want to succeed in a leadership role recognize your team members with thoughtful praise.
Do a Great Job
This should be obvious but if you are auditioning for a leadership position, results matter. Complete tasks on time. Supervisors are going to scrutinize your work more than they would if you were just part of a team rather than leading it. However, don’t let the attention overwhelm you –– stick to your objectives. Focus on where you are going more than where you are. If your team encounters an obstacle, don’t be shy about asking for help. If something goes wrong, take responsibility. Passing the buck is not a leadership quality!
Prepare to Lead
If you see yourself running a department or even a company and you’re wondering about how to demonstrate leadership in the workplace, one of the best ways is through training. Take management seminars. Find out about company-sponsored training. Improve your skills. Even watching TED Talks can help.
Think like a leader. Don’t just brainstorm ideas –– spend time thinking about how they impact your team and your company. It may seem counterintuitive but good leaders think of others more often than themselves. If you start looking like a leader to your boss it won’t be long before you actually become one.