By Perminus Wainaina
Word on the street is that “leaders are born not made.”
What is your take?
Did you inherit the talents and traits that will help you step up into the next management role?
Are you continuously learning and mastering the skills and competencies that will earn you your next promotion in a leadership role?”
Owned or earned, leadership skills play a pivotal role in the development of your career. The ability to efficiently inspire, motivate and direct others-demands a complex pool of competencies and character.
So whether born or made, these are the top 4 traits that indicate you were cut out from the leadership cloth.
Confidence is the solid rock foundation upon which leadership is built.
As a professional, you may possess innate talents or you may even learn fundamental leadership skills such as effective public speaking, problem-solving or decision making.
However, if you fail to believe in yourself, you are a leader only by job title.
Fortunately, confidence can be learned and gained through experience and continuous self-development.
Charity works as a Marketing Assistant for an FMCG company. The Marketing Manager is leaving the organization in a few months. With 5 years of experience under her belt, Charity has invested her time, sweat and tears in the company and is being considered for the position.
However, as an introvert, Charity is filled with a lot of self-doubt, particularly her lack of presence stemming from her inability to speak up and stand out. Can Charity gain the confidence needed to thrive, outshine and lead extroverts as an introverted marketing manager?
The answer is a resounding yes. Charity enrolled for a short course geared towards helping her speak with confidence. Due to the practical nature of the course, Charity was able to get out of her comfort zone, face her public speaking fears and is now acing it as a manager.
With the right attitude, perception, practice, and experience, you too can build your confidence.
2. Decision-making ability
Another key difference between a leader and a professional is the responsibility they have. If you look at an entry-level position, for example, you notice much of what you have to do is what has been outlined in your job description. A supervisor, on the hand, has to make several decisions concerning the organization.
To get the promotion to a supervisory role, you need to show you can clearly make decisions in the workplace. Some of the decisions you make will be easy, others will be tough.
If you can effectively make decisions, you’re in a position to grow your career.
Can you learn to make decisions? This is not a skill that can be taught per se, however, it is a skill that you can nurture over time.
To improve your decision-making abilities, start by knowing the situations within your control that need a decision. Then, look at the possible outcomes for each decision. Once you have made the decision, follow up on the progress and effect of the decision you made.
If you’re unsure about a decision, always ask someone who has experience or expertise on the matter.
3. Effective communication
Communication plays an important role in the success of your career. When you can effectively communicate, you’re able to deliver your ideas and make impactful presentations.
Jane, who is an admin officer at an educational institute never saw the need for effective communication skills. During a presentation to investors and key stakeholders, the boss fell ill and had to be rushed to the hospital.
Jane was asked to make the presentation, and while she did, she admits she could barely communicate even though she knew everything about the presentation.
It was after this that Jane sought to improve her effective communication skills and joined a short course on effective communication.
When your employer is considering who to promote, they evaluate how effective you are at communicating, a characteristic needed at management level.
4. Emotional intelligence
Emotions can either help you grow your career or hold you back. Some professionals are in control of their emotions while others react to everything that happens.
Are you in control of your emotions? Emotional intelligence is being aware of, and controlling your emotions at the workplace.
Take empathy, for example; empathy can help you connect with a colleague and what they are experiencing.
To grow in your career, you’ll need to learn what emotions you should use, and in what situations. Moreover, you’ll also need to exercise control over your emotions.
The above are the top 4 traits of successful leaders. Whether you have these skills or not, the good news is you can cultivate them over time and with practice. Here are four tactics you can use to grow your leadership skills;
- Take a leadership course – There are short courses that can help you become an effective leader in your workplace. These short courses are practical and can help you grow the leader in you.
- Network with leaders – Who are your friends? What sort of company do you keep? As the saying goes, ‘birds of a feather flock together.’ If you want to grow your leadership skills, actively seek to connect with leaders and managers. You can achieve this by interacting with them during networking opportunities.
- Show initiative – Are you self-motivated or do you have to be followed around before completing a task? If you’re self-motivated, you’ll not only get your work done on time, you’ll also be able to help other professionals in the workplace.
- Get a mentor – Where do you see yourself in ten years? One effective way to ensure you reach your goals is by getting help from someone who’s already achieved where you want to go. Get a professional you look up to and request them to help you along the way.
At the end of the day, to get a promotion or to advance in your career, you’ll need to prove you have the leadership traits the employers are looking for and you have the potential to excel as a leader. If you work on the above traits, you’ll be able to effectively grow your career and move up in the corporate ladder.
Perminus Wainaina is the C.E.O and Managing Partner at Corporate Staffing Services, a leading HR & Recruitment consultancy firm based in Westlands. Through personalized career coaching he assists mid-level and senior professionals get solutions to complex and challenging career issues that they are facing. Click here for more on career coaching.