If you’re like a lot of people reading this, you’re an executive who is interested in learning how to become a better leader. Or, you might be a talent development executive who wants to help others become better leaders.
In my work as a consultant, workshop leader, and keynote speaker around the globe, I see a lot of executives who are interested in learning how to be a better leader.
If that includes you, then read on. Here are a few dozen skills that every aspiring leader should possess.
Side note — if you’re the type who enjoys video rather than the written word, feel free to take a spin through the video below to kick-start your journey.
Let’s start things off with 5 essential tips that you can put to use right away.
- Work on your mindset first and your skillset second. Many people assume that great leaders focus their efforts on skills — learning how to use software, run meetings, write emails, etc. But research shows that great leaders work on their mindset first because good thoughts lead to good actions which (often) lead to good outcomes
- Failure isn’t the opposite of success, it’s part of success. We learn more from our failures than we do from our successes, so learn to embrace failure. It’s part of the process.
- Under 40, you get paid for what you do. Over 40, you get paid for what you know. As you navigate through your career, you’ll find that people rely on you because of what you know, not because of what you do. If you find yourself moving into a teaching, coaching, or mentoring role, that’s a good sign and should be celebrated.
- Know your audience as well as you know yourself. Will you be making presentations to board members? To client prospects? To team members? If so, then understand your audience as much as you understand yourself. Before any meeting, try to get a sense of the personality types in the room. Figure out what their pain points are and what their expectations are. By doing so, you’ll ensure a better outcome from any presentation or sales pitch. By the way, a great tool to help you do this is called Crystal Knows. It’s an excellent piece of software and something I use quite frequently.
- Improve communication with the communication styles matrix. Dr. Eileen Russo did a study on how people communicate. Some are direct, others are spirited, some are systematic, and some are considerate. Review the image below to understand the differences between them. More importantly, make sure you communicate in the style of the person you are mentoring. If they are a direct communicator, then you need to take on that style. If they’re considerate, you need to take on that style. It’s incumbent upon you, as a leader, to take on the style of the person you’re leading.
Here are some additional techniques you can put to use.
Want to know how to overcome failure and achieve success?
If you’re like most people, you might feel as though your past experiences might be holding you back.
You might have had a tough childhood, you might have had a career setback, or you might have had a serious loss in your life.
You can’t make those things go away, but you can reframe your mind so that they don’t hold you back.
By understanding this – don’t create your future from your past. Instead, create your present from your future. That’s worth saying again…
Don’t create your future from your past. Instead, create your present from your future.
I teach at Emory University and was discussing this concept with my students just yesterday. It really resonated with them, and I suspect it might resonate with you, too.
By visualizing a positive future, you change your actions today, which leads to a better outcome tomorrow.
So, here’s the technique – visualize what you want your life to be like in 5 years, then take actions towards that vision.
By creating your present from your future, you’ll change your thoughts and actions. And when you change your thoughts and actions, you can have better outcomes in life.
5 science-based principles to help you do a better job as a manager or a team leader.
I’ve taught these tips to executives at Coca-Cola, Verizon, IBM and other places so check them out.
Principle #1: People feel the need to be respected. Studies show that managers who respect their employees have more success than those who treat them like second class citizens. So start your engagement with any employee from a place of respect.
Principle #2: People would rather be asked than to be told. When you ask someone for their help rather than telling them what to do, they’ll be more engaged and you’ll get better results.
Principle #3: People have a desire to know why. If you can help your employees understand the why behind the assignments you’re giving them, you’ll get better results and less push back.
Principle #4: People prefer to have options. Asking an employee, “Which of these two tasks would you like to work on first?” will get you better results than telling them which task to work on first and which to work on second.
Principle #5: People want to have a second chance. As a manager, you should always err on the side of grace rather than the law. You’ll get much more loyalty from your employees when you give them a second chance if they mess up.
If these tips have been helpful to you, that’s great. You might also be interested in taking my leadership quiz on the Unspoken Rules of Leadership website.
You’ll find the quiz by clicking the image below or by clicking here: https://unspokenrules.live/quiz/
Would you like to feel more confident at work?
Do you wish you knew a few things that would help you build confidence and feel less anxious about your career?
Well, you’re not alone. According to Scientific American, only 1% of the population has total confidence. Who are those people?
That’s right, psychopaths.
So, if you’re in the other 99% who feel a little bit insecure, you’re in good company.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t all use a dose of confidence every once in a while, so let’s get started.
Tip #1 on how to build self-confidence – give yourself a break. As Dr. Ellen Hendriksen writes in How to Be Yourself, self-doubt is actually good for us. It helps us monitor our actions and work towards getting along with others.
So remember, self-doubt is normal. Everyone, except psychopaths, have it. So give yourself a little bit of a break.
Tip #2 – Recognize that confidence is the product of action.
What does that mean? It means that confidence happens when you remember your successes.
And success comes in many forms – are you a kind person? Then you’re successful. Do friends rely on you for advice? Then you’re successful. Do you help others? Then you’re successful.
Remember, confidence is the product of action. In other words, you gain confidence when you remember your successes.
Tip #3 – Change your first line of code.
This was taught to me by my brother who pointed out that the human brain is like a software program. You can have half a million lines of amazing software code, but if that first line of code is broken, it doesn’t matter how brilliant the rest of the code is. The software program won’t run because it can’t get past the first line of code.
So ask yourself, “What is my first line of code?” In other words, what’s that first message you always tell yourself.
Is it that you’re not good enough? That you’re not popular? That you know someone who is funnier, smarter, better looking … all of the above?
In order to build self-confidence, you have to change that first line of code.
Which brings us to tip #4 – Adjust your physiology.
A study at Harvard University, and later confirmed in a larger study, found that people who take on the Wonder Woman Power Pose for 2 minutes are 33% more likely to take action on the challenges they face.
That’s right, your physiology has a direct impact on how you feel about yourself.
As Tony Robins says, “Emotion comes from motion” so don’t be afraid to take on the Wonder Woman pose every now and then.
Tip #5 – Every day, write down one thing you’re grateful for. Oprah Winfrey does this and she says it’s one of the most powerful things she does to gain confidence, to feel good about things, and to improve her optimism.
It sounds simple – and it is – but gratitude can change the attitude.
Bonus Tip — Work on your speaking and presentation skills.
Here’s a tip (below) from Warren Buffet on the importance of presentation skills.
Did you know that 50% of the people who Google themselves aren’t happy with the results?
Why is that?
It’s because those people didn’t do a good job building a personal brand and managing their online reputation.
What follows is a 7-step program you can use to build and establish a powerful personal brand.
Some of these are included in my 53-page ebook titled The Unspoken Rules of Leadership. Check it out if you want more tips like those below.
In the meantime, let’s get started, shall we?
Step 1: Model Someone, but Don’t Lose Yourself
There are probably 3 or 4 people you think do a good job with their personal brand. This might be people online, or it might simply be people in your office.
Take those people and model what they do. That doesn’t mean copy them, it simply means follow in their footsteps – how do they carry themselves? How do they present themselves? How do they engage with others?
Model yourself after them, without losing a sense of who you are and what you’re about.
Step 2: Be Authentic, but Not Fully Transparent
We all know the importance of being authentic. Ever since you were a kid, your parents have told you to “be yourself.”
But there’s a twist to that. Being authentic doesn’t mean being fully transparent.
Nobody wants to know that you’re addicted to gambling or that you drink too much. What they want is to see the best side of you in its fully authentic, genuine form.
So be authentic, but not fully transparent.
Step 3: Know Your Audience As Well As You Know Yourself
It’s one thing to understand what motivates you and what drives you, but it’s equally important to understand what motivates and drives your audience.
This is essential if you’re going to write a book, start a YouTube channel, or simply build your reputation in the office.
Get inside the mind of your target audience, understand them on a nuanced, psychographic level, and then work backwards from there.
By thinking backwards, you’ll know how to make your personal brand move forward.
Step 4: Pick One Thing
I wish I’d done a better job with this over the course of my career, but my ADHD wouldn’t let me.
I was bouncing off too many different walls, but if I had to do it again, I’d probably zero-in on a single topic and try to stick to that topic.
So zero in on one thing. If you change your focus a year or two down the line, that’s fine.
But don’t focus on too many things all at once.
As they say, “Get rich in a niche.”
Step 5: Add Value
This is an idea I learned from Sunny Lenarduzzi who has a terrific YouTube channel for people who want to be their own bosses.
She says her #1 focus is to add value, value, value, value.
So remember, whether it’s in a book, a YouTube channel, or your e-newsletter, provide as much value as possible and – here’s the kicker – do it as quickly as possible.
Every time you add value by providing a statistic or sharing an insight, your audience grabs on to that for about 7 seconds before they start wanting to know what’s next.
And with that, let’s go on to our next step.
Step 6: Amplify What You Do
We live in a cluttered world. So, if you don’t find a way to stand out, then you’ll get lost in the shuffle.
My friend Erik Qualman based his personal brand on a simple thing he noticed when he created his Twitter handle, which is E … Qualman.
And with that, his personal brand was born complete with his own logo, his own t-shirts, and his own stylized glasses.
Interested in learning more about leadership? If so, click the link and download my free e-book titled The Unspoken Rules of Leadership. It includes 53 pages of tools, tips, and techniques you can use to lead others and lead yourself.
Did you know that your mood is contagious?
Yup. It sure is.
A while back, Harvard Business Review published an article called Primal Leadership.
The article highlights a study out of NYU and the University of Michigan that found that an executive’s mood is “caught” by the team members they’ve been asked to lead.
It goes on to say that if you want to be an effective leader, you need to manage your emotions while you’re in the office.
“But wait,” you might say. “Isn’t this the era of authentic leadership? Aren’t we all trying to be more real and vulnerable at work?
Well … yes, and no.
It makes sense that we want to be authentic, but we also have to consider our environment.
Think of it this way. Imagine you just found out that you were passed over for a promotion. You’re feeling down in the dumps. In fact, you’re feeling horrible.
But that night, you have plans to go on a date (or go to a party, or attend a concert with your in-laws, etc.).
The environment you’re in dictates how you’ll behave.
It would be bad form to let your disappointment show through in the scenarios mentioned above.
On the other hand, let’s say you got the bad news and that night you had plans to meet your best friend for drinks.
That’s an entirely different environment and one where it would be okay to let it all hang out.
So, remember. It’s okay to be disappointed. And it’s okay to be in a bad mood. But it’s not okay to let your feelings seep out to those you’re in charge of leading.
Save the disappointment and the venting for a more appropriate time (like over drinks!).
To be an effective leader, you sometimes have to put your emotions aside for a moment so that those you’re leading can be inspired to tackle the mountains they’re asked to climb.
About the Author: Jamie Turner is an internationally recognized author, professor, consultant, and speaker who has helped employees at The Coca-Cola Company, Holiday Inn, Microsoft, Verizon and others do a better job leading, managing, and mentoring others. To have him speak at your event or organization, email him at: Jamie@JamieTurner.Live