Successful leaders have a certain “Je ne sais quoi” – an air of authority, trust, confidence, and knowledge that inspires others to follow them and move towards the goals they have set.
As someone moving up the ranks toward leadership, it’s imperative to create your leadership presence early on. To be the one that’s tapped to take on new leadership assignments you need to assume the presence of a leader before you can be one.
Consider what you say, how you say it, and how you look saying it.
WHAT YOU SAY
Leaders phrase things positively. They move as quickly and efficiently as they can through a process to a successful conclusion. Listen to great leaders who choose their words wisely and adjust your delivery to mimic theirs. Researching great speeches of the past is a good place to start learning to frame your comments positively. Rarely do great leaders talk about all the problems they have had and what they are trying to avoid, they only speak about where they are going and how they are going to get there. Avoid negativity and find the positive in every situation first and only talk about the positive which will eliminate any appearance of negativity.
HOW YOU SAY IT
Contrarians are never the leader – they are the outliers. There are many times you may not agree with something, or have a differing opinion, which is how creativity and growth are often generated. But how you deliver the message is the difference between someone who is considered a leader and someone who is branded as not supportive of the company’s goals. The best way to offer a new idea that may not be in alignment with others’ thinking is to present it as a “brainstorm” by starting off the introduction with something like, “I don’t know if we’ve ever looked at it this way, but what about the possibility of…”, or “These are really important and great ideas, can we brainstorm for a moment here?”. Avoid blurting your disagreement directly out for the risk of alienating others in the room. Remember, it is possible that your ideas have been explored in the past and were overlooked or avoided for some reason you are not aware of.
Don’t take it personally if others don’t like your ideas every time. Remember, it takes a village, so do your best to contribute AND collaborate when it’s time for you to support someone else’s ideas that are being adopted.
HOW YOU LOOK SAYING IT
Even if it’s a casual day, a put-together look is key. No matter how crazy their morning was, leaders never come in and talk about chaos in their lives, they just manage it. If others view you as unable to manage yourself to be where you need to be and look ready, you won’t be the one they choose to be a leader. Always putting your best self forward will ensure others always view you as a leader. Leaders don’t make excuses, either. They take responsibility for what they do, where they are, and their outcomes. They embody this by making it to meetings and appointments on time, dressing appropriately, and being organized and ready for the meeting or conversation. Traffic doesn’t keep them from being on time. Their kids don’t prevent them from getting somewhere they need to be when they need to be there. They get it done, consistently and build confidence in others by being reliable and dependable.
Wondering if you are on the right track? Look at people in the hallway – are they making eye contact with you? Are they saying hello? Do the big bosses know you by name? Take the lead and greet others as they pass you in the hall; introduce yourself in the elevator to someone you know that may not know your name. Leaders are natural connectors, too – introduce others you are with to the people you are meeting to take the lead and position yourself as a leader.
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