Leadership is a Constant Journey of Learning About Yourself: How to be Seen as a Leader

Often when we think of female leaders, women like Oprah, Queen Victoria, and Hillary Clinton come to mind. You don’t have to be a famed woman to be a leader, though. All of us have the potential to be great leaders. In fact, most of us already are, whether we realise it or not.

Whether you’re looking to become a leader, or just enhance your leadership skills, there are plenty of things you can do to portray yourself as a leader

Spend time encouraging others

When people are feeling discouraged, it’s likely their productivity will tank and their negative mood will affect others in the office. Start exercising your leadership abilities by spending just 30 to 60 seconds recognising employees for their achievements and letting them know you believe in them. Your encouragement could cause a ripple effect in their productivity, loyalty, and overall morale.

Step boldly outside of your comfort zone

Being a leader isn’t always easy, and it definitely requires courage. Stepping out of your comfort zone is needed to create new opportunities, build influence, and achieve long-term success. And, the more you do it, the more confident you will be to take on even bigger challenges down the road.

So, challenge old beliefs, take risks, and have the courage to take on new roles and forge new unknown paths. Of course mistakes will be made, but those setbacks don’t determine your success as a leader. Your courage does. Being a leader doesn’t mean being perfect at what you do, just having the courage to do it – and inspiring others to follow suit.

Make opportunities 

People commonly avoid taking leadership roles if they don’t see a suitable open position they can fill. Instead of waiting around for change to occur, step up and make it happen. Offer to lead new groups or projects at work, implement new processes to increase efficiency or solve problems.

Show gratitude 

Showing sincere gratitude is the foundation of true leader and is a catalyst to building great relationships. Expressing your appreciation does more than inspire employees to keep up the good work, it has the ability to increase their engagement and productivity. And, making others feel valued by makes you appear more valuable.

Make it clear you welcome feedback 

Great leaders make themselves open to suggestions from others. Failing to do that will likely make you be seen as arrogant and close-minded. Whether you just talk to people one-on-one in your organization or do something more formalised, make sure people know you’re open to new ideas and constructive criticism.

Be genuine

If you get too caught up in what you believe others perceive to be good leadership qualities, you may hamper your progress before gaining any momentum. We have little power to make a difference if we’re stripping ourselves of what makes us unique to conform. Instead, express yourself authentically.

Don’t stop there, either. Be authentic in all of your interactions with employees. Genuinely listening to others speaks volumes even if you don’t say a word, and engaging authentically with those around you makes you more approachable, trusted, and influential.

Set a good example

Similarly to the point above, whenever you’re acting as a leader, people will keep tabs on what you say, as well as what you do. Those two characteristics should match up well, meaning you should ‘practice what you preach’. When you set a good example in your everyday life, being a leader becomes more naturally, rather than just a role you fill at certain times.

Team up with an experienced leader

This is a great tip to try if you’re a little nervous about leadership, or feel that you’re too introverted to succeed as a leader. Being around a confident leader who’s willing to serve as your mentor can be extremely valuable, because it gives you a chance to ask questions.

Don’t get too concerned with power 

Some people mistakenly think all leaders are powerful. However, it’s usually more appropriate to say they are very effective at what they do. Rather than getting too wrapped up in whether or not people think you’re powerful, aim to make your actions as effective as possible.

Leadership is not a quality you can adopt overnight, but it also doesn’t require special skills, or years and years of effort. Simply focus on your strengths and be inspired by these tips. Lastly, give yourself permission to accept the responsibilities of being a leader, even if you’re not a perfect one. That’ll cause other people to see you as worthy of and ready for leadership roles.

Sarah Landrum

Sarah Landrum recently graduated from Penn State with degrees in Marketing and PR. Now, she's a freelance writer and career blogger sharing advice on navigating the work world and achieving happiness and success in your career. You can find her tweeting on her coffee breaks @SarahLandrum