Most employees have big dreams of one day having the big title, the corner office, and being able to lead an organization. Industry knowledge is certainly part of the job, but it won’t make you a great leader all by itself. This is where leadership skills come into play, but without having an exceptional grasp of them, your days at the top will be short-lived.
How do you learn these skills? They aren’t taught in school. There’s no formal on-the-job training that can help you to acquire them. In fact, most great leaders will tell you that everything they know about leadership they learned as they went along — even things they thought they knew proved to be off or not exactly as they expected. It was only after rolling up their sleeves and getting their hands dirty that they learned these lessons.
Regardless of when and how you learn about leadership, if you want to lead an organization and do it successfully, there are nine things you have to know.
1.React to opportunities; Don’t wait for them to come to you.
There are two types of people: those who sit back and watch, and those who act. Great leaders watch for less than a second and are quick to take massive action. Always be thinking more about forward-motion and less about right or wrong. Remember: In most cases, you can fix a mistake later. When an opportunity is gone, it’s usually gone forever. If being indecisive is something you struggle with, set a time limit. When time is up, force yourself to act. And never allow yourself to just act casually — act with purpose and full intensity.
2. Stop micro-worrying.
Micro-worrying is frantically trying to take care of or control every little detail in your life or career to the point you actually begin to feel sick. Your mind is racing, your heart is pounding, your stress and anxiety are through the roof. Unless you’re trying to save someone’s life, there’s no need to box in your movements by “analysis-paralysis.” Obsessing over the irrelevant finer details that won’t impact the outcome is pointless and will only distract you from what you really need to be accomplishing. Your goal is to do the best job you can do and move on.
3. Find satisfaction.
Human beings have short attention spans. This gets worse when given a task someone doesn’t find appealing like a long meeting, conference call or training session. Great leaders know the secret to success is to add a quotient of contentment and satisfaction to absolutely everything they do because the productivity of your teams will skyrocket; your employees will be more engaged, have more fun and genuinely enjoy their work. Some people might measure success with money but, increasingly, improved job satisfaction is also very high up on this list.
4. Be genuine with your connections.
We are so busy connecting on social media and rushing to complete various tasks that many of us have forgotten the true art of taking the time to meet someone in person and really connecting with them. This was a problem even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. As soon as it’s safe for you to do so again, make a plan to me with people again for a real handshake, a real conversation and a face-to-face meeting where you can have a three-dimensional experience with someone. This is what builds long-lasting business relationships — let’s go back to being real people.
5. Neglected connections are not connections.
How many times have you heard someone brag that they have 5,000 LinkedIn connections, 50,000 Facebook followers and a database of more than 200,000 people? Guess what? It’s all irrelevant if you don’t work with those contacts and regularly stay in touch with them.
Be mindful and strategic with your connections. Strive to maintain a dynamic connection with contacts that can better your work life and your life in general. There are different people for different aspects of your life. Be organized about your relationships and nurture these relationships as well. Stay on people’s radar. If you’re just a faceless connection on a website, how useful is that to you or anyone else? In the end, quality over quantity will help you and your career the most.
6. Remember that there is no “overnight success” story.
Tangible success, in the beginning, is very scarce. What comes in droves is frustration and all the other attitudes that make feeling successful an unattainable journey. As you think about your career trajectory, always keep in mind that career success almost always equals hard work and time. People forget this all the time and then wonder why they aren’t getting anywhere. Remember, you get out what you put in, and sometimes you will be required to put in a lot. Do it anyway. Work hard and always work to your full potential. You will be rewarded for your efforts in the end.
7. Failure doesn’t last.
Mistakes happen but they have a bigger purpose. I would even go as far as saying mistakes can be better than winning at times. Mistakes help you to refine your thinking, your plans and how you execute and deliver your business model. They are meant to give you the necessary pause in your journey to “reset.” Ultimately, the key to success is not avoiding failure; it’s learning how to do better when things don’t go your way. When you realize this, it takes away the fear and allows you to engage with less anxiety and less toxicity in your system, as well as with a better overall mindset about all the moving pieces in your life.
8. Spread out your interests.
Has anyone ever called you a generalist as if it were a bad thing? It’s actually a great quality when it comes to leadership. Generalists have a keen mind about a lot of things and are generally motivated to engage whenever something piques their interest. They are happy to learn something new and are always thinking about a more robust arsenal of skills that they can claim as their own. These wonders of perpetual knowledge are always curious about everything and everyone. They never find anything boring and they are always able to get a nugget or two out of something. It might not happen right away but eventually, they will call on that knowledge in a big way and everyone will look at them and think: how in the world did they know that?
9. Teamwork makes the dream work.
It’s a popular saying in many places because it’s so true. Being a good team member is one of the top things hiring managers and recruiters look for in a job candidate. You can be a superstar with awesome capabilities, but if you cannot get along with your teammates and do not identify with the work culture in your organization, you might as well bow out and go home because you are of no use.
Companies look for people who fit harmoniously because conflict is usually a drain on employee productivity, morale and all the other factors that companies rely on to keep their business moving. Commit to being part of your team; build relationships and strengthen the team however you can because the stronger your team is overall, the better off you’ll be as well, and the more success you and your company will ultimately achieve.
About the author
Angela Civitella is a real estate executive, business leadership coach and the founder of Intinde.