3 Secrets Great Leaders Know (Hint: focus on being the best you)

"How can I develop my leadership potential to advance my career?". "What makes a great leader?".

These are two questions I am frequently asked. I smile and then bust out my crystal ball (and if I really like you my magic leadership wand). Voila...an awesome leader appears!

Let's be real,  leadership is HOT topic and many people make it out to be an elusive quality. They search for leadership the way I suspect some look for Bigfoot or UFOs. They know it's out there, they just don't have a lot of proof.  

We live in a world where the public outcry for (more) leadership is LOUD:  a challenge to those in our government, in Corporate America, and really to each other- as a way to demonstrate personal accountability.  Clearly, it's a topic that inspires a lot of discussion and often generates conflicting opinions. 

One of the most harmful leadership myths is the belief that leadership is a title or position. We are all leaders in our own way.  And that is a powerful message we need to embrace.

Yes, I am talking to YOU and your inner leader. Time to come out and play BIG. The world needs you!

TRUTH: By focusing on what you do well and developing your potential you can harness your uniqueness to be a great leader.

Leadership is not something we are born with in total.  It takes confidence, a lot of hard-work and practice but leadership can be learned. Certainly some people have traits that make leadership come naturally to them, but we all have a leader within us wanting to play BIG. Here are a few ways you can develop your potential as a leader:

Three Secrets Great Leaders Know:

1. Focus on your strengths- and fill in the gaps.  

As a leader it is imperative that you know yourself well to be the most effective with your team. For example, are you talented at strategic planning but struggle with presenting these exciting ideas, and the details that will bring your vision to life?  Collaborate with someone who understands your vision and oozes passion.  They will help you to bring energy to your idea and share it in a way that builds excitement AND, more importantly, gains buy-in. If people believe in your vision they will work hard to make sure it comes in to focus.

2. Harness your natural (energy) style to add value to your time with your team. 

Are you extroverted? Take advantage of opportunities to meet with employees in a big group.  You have a way of making everyone feel special and they will be drawn to you.  The more people time you get at meetings, the more you are re-energized and can harness that energy to put it back into the day to ensure your meeting goes well. Your team to leave the meeting inspired!

More introverted Instead of a big meeting, schedule smaller meetings or break up the group to have a meeting within a meeting to ensure quality time. You make your team feel heard; in a fast paced world with more talking then deep listening that is a rare gift everyone appreciates. Consider reaching out one-on-one after to reiterate ideas and to continue to build the relationship. 

3. Clearly communicate your expectations. Repeat.

Time and again I have seen leaders provide contradictory messages to their team and then they are surprised and frustrated when they don't get the expected results. One of the most important things a leader can do is to be transparent. Part of transparency is sharing the "WHY?".  When ideas are introduced in meetings I suggest following up with an email or holding a teleconference shortly after to stress important ideas and ensure clear understanding of actionable items. By taking this extra step you will guarantee everyone is on the same page and the end result is what is needed.

These are just a few things great leaders do to be successful.  The best leaders know themselves and what they are good at.  They utilize their talents and skills to be more effective leaders. It looks effortless but behind the scenes is a lot of learning, trial and error and practice. That extra effort is the key differentiator between a good or a great leader.

What do you think?  

What do you do well as a leader?

What are you hard at work trying to improve?

Posted on October 30, 2014 and filed under Leadership, Values.