Enhancing your leadership presence is important to do at any stage of your career.
Many people think that you either have what it takes to be a great leader, or you don’t. This actually couldn’t be further from the truth. Like anything, being a great leader takes practice, determination, and an understanding that you will probably make some mistakes along the way.
The good news is that every great leader started exactly where you are. And even if you don’t feel confident in your abilities just yet, there are steps you can take right now to get to where you want to be in your leadership journey.
In this post, we’re sharing how to enhance and develop your leadership presence in a few simple steps.
The first step in becoming a better leader is developing both your communication and listening skills. As I’m sure you can imagine, there are a number of ways to go about this depending on your current situation in your life and career. My first piece of advice is to challenge yourself to participate more actively in meetings — either virtually or in-person. If you’re looking to become a great leader, gone are the days of being a fly on the wall. Even if it feels difficult, give yourself that extra push to raise your hand and share what you have to say.
And as often as you can, practice open and honest communication with your team members (1). If you communicate directly and with conviction, you’ll be amazed at the results from your interactions. Not only will these things enhance your communication skills, they will also elevate your confidence and act as a stepping stone to taking charge in your life more often.
The next part of this step is listening. There’s a quote that says, “Interesting people are interested people”. In order to be a great leader, you have to care about those you work with. And not only care about them, but show them that you’re genuinely interested in what they have to say. This is ultimately how you’ll form the best connections and establish a good rapport.
To enhance this skill, start listening more intently in your everyday life. Be sure you are not one of those people who are either talking, or waiting to talk. In each conversation you have going forward, make an effort to listen not just to respond, but really absorb what the other person says. If you need to, take an extra couple of seconds to respond and process. This habit will help you become someone that other people feel that they can trust deeply, which of course, is an essential quality of a great leader.
If you find yourself struggling to build meaningful connections, our Encore Communication workshop is designed to enhance your communication, sales, persuasion and leadership skills. Be sure to visit our information page to find out if Encore could be a good fit for you on your leadership journey.
The next step is to actually practice leadership as often as you can, even if you don’t feel all of those amazing leadership qualities in you just yet. Here’s the thing: when it comes to leadership, you’ll need to fake it until you make it for a while. You won’t suddenly wake up one morning feeling completely confident in yourself and your ability to lead a team. But like anything else, if you take small efforts towards it every day, that’s what will ultimately leverage results and transform you into the leader you want to be.
So, how do you practice leadership and teamwork in your everyday life? For starters, assess what areas of your life would lend themselves best to leveraging these skills, If you’re a student, try taking the lead in your next group project, for example. And if you don’t notice any areas where practicing leadership is an option, create some! Whether it’s volunteering at a local organization or taking on more leadership-based tasks in your current job — opportunities to lead, mentor and coach are everywhere.
To be a better leader, you’ll want to:
The next part of the journey towards effective leadership is to seek feedback. I can’t stress enough how important this is. Knowing yourself on a deep level is critical not only to developing your leadership style, but also to understanding what you need to work on (3). There are several ways to do this, and I’d recommend taking advantage of as many of these options as you can.
The first way is to simply ask a team member, friend, spouse, family member, etc. Someone who knows you well and will give you an honest opinion about your top three strengths and weaknesses. This will give you so much insight into what you’re already doing well at in your life, and how you can improve in the context of leadership. You can also look at your past experiences in order to see how you have led people in the past and determine areas you’d like to improve on in the future. The most important thing about this is to be sure the people you are asking for feedback are non-judgemental, and for you to not judge yourself based on the improvements you have yet to make in this area.
Another amazing way to seek feedback and assess your strengths and weaknesses is through personality and strength tests online. A few of the assessments that we use at Connect To The Core, both for our clients and within our team are Kolbe, CliftonStrengths, and DISC. All of these are great options to get a better understanding of who you are and how you operate in different scenarios. Below you’ll find a list of great free options as well.
The fourth step and question to ask here, is how can you bring more balance into your life? Developing your leadership presence means that, more than likely, you’ll eventually find yourself in a leadership-centric role. And as you know, roles with more leadership can have greater responsibility, greater commitment level, and more financial stability and comfort.
But something to keep in mind is that there’s so much more to having a successful life than just making money. We all need balance. It's possible to be hugely successful in terms of a career and still be miserable most of the time. People who work all of the time making money often will neglect their health, their spiritual life, and recreational activities. They also sometimes, perhaps inadvertently will neglect their family, friends, and loved ones in lieu of a successful business career.
You might think this seems like forward-thinking if you haven’t landed your dream leadership role yet. But as much as you can now, focus on implementing balance into your life. That way, when you do eventually land a role that demands more of your time and responsibility, you’ll already have these best practices in place.
Last but certainly not least, finding a mentor or coach is an essential part of developing your leadership presence or skills (4). This can take on many forms depending on your situation. Whether it’s a coach that you hire or a mentor that you seek out, having someone to look up to and bounce ideas off of will be critical on your journey to becoming the best leader possible.
Generally speaking, the knowledge of the universe can be distributed into three broad categories: what you know, what you know you don't know, and what you don't know you don't know. Normally, we only have access to the first two categories: what we know and what we know we don't know. And for business-as-usual, that’s usually all we need.
The catch is, moving beyond business-as-usual and having breakthroughs requires us to move into the "what we don't know we don't know" arena. This is where a coach or mentor comes into play.
This role in your life can help keep you on track and accountable, reveal truths you weren’t aware of and act as a sounding board. This person might also emit leadership qualities for you to look up to and embody in your own leadership journey.
In order to enhance your leadership presence, you’ll need to dig deep into areas like your communication, listening, and problem-solving skills. You’ll also want to be proactive in seeking out a coach or mentor, commit to learning more about yourself every single day, and most importantly, push yourself out of your comfort zone.
If you’re looking for more information on leadership, growth, confidence, communication, and everything under that umbrella — be sure to check us out on Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook for new content every week.