There are two initial sides to being a leader. One side is leading a group as a whole. The other is leading individuals who contribute to the larger group. As a leader in business or for a personal endeavor, keeping a clear perspective of the many types of personalities you might have to support and lead is important. In business you lead yourself, your staff, your employees, sometimes even your vendors and suppliers. On a personal level, leadership can involve managing many people and even many roles for the greater good.
Understanding that each of the people you are responsible for may need to be lead in a different way is a secret to great leadership. This eventually allows others to rise up and some day lead as well. There are many ways to motivate, speak, communicate and educate the people you lead. Taking the time to identify the nuances of the individuals in the group around you and relating that to your leadership style is priceless.
The one thing I have learned in all my years as an employee in Corporate America and as a self-employed virtual assistant is that no matter what obstacles you face, as long as you have the strong desire and the determination you can achieve your dreams. But, you first need to believe in yourself.
Your ideas can become reality. If I let all the obstacles guide me I would not be where I am today. When I began my business as a virtual assistant there were only a hand full of VAs and the concept was not well known. On top of that I only knew real estate. For me to be successful I decided to only specialize in real estate. I became a Real Estate Virtual Assistant. The term was not well known and those that had heard of one were not sure of the concept.
But, I knew this is exactly what I wanted and because of my strong desire to build my own company and to work from home, I knew I had to do this. The financial need was there, my desire was strong and my determination was off the charts. Because of these three things and by staying focused and working hard I was able to succeed. I helped to create a new concept among the virtual assistant industry. Unknowingly I was becoming a leader in un-chartered territory. Need, desire and determination are important elements in discovering your ability to be a leader.
If you have the same desire to own your own company or step into leadership in an area of your life, but not sure what to offer in the way of services then I recommend that you first start off with a resume- or taking personal inventory of your strengths and attributes. Create this resume/personal profile sheet as if you were applying for the job of the century, which you are. The only difference is that you will be the boss.
Once you have completed the resume have someone read it to give you an honest opinion and then revise it. This will be your platform of what services you will offer your clients and it will showcase areas in which you will be a great fit for leadership. When you write your resume and personal inventory sheet, you will see where your strengths are and where there is opportunity to still grow.
What ever your business, you need to be proficient in basic skill sets. As a leader, your personal profile sheet should also identify what skill sets you have in that area. You will need to know how to work with details, creating policy and procedures for your business. Leaders often have to be able to not only look at the big picture but also understand the relevance of details that others may bring forth to support that larger vision.
As a role model in business - regardless of the market or location of your services - to be most successful you need to always know your audience. You should know what expectations have been set from your audience. Are they looking for you to lead by example? Are they looking to be taught how to do things for themselves? Do they expect you to be outgoing, dynamic and a great orator- or is the quiet leader, the staid, confident, succinctly spoken type better for your group?
Sometimes as a leader you will be working as if everything is needed yesterday and time is of the essence. You need to be prepared for any type of a situation. There may be decisions you will need to make that are urgent. Other times you will see that you have the ability to slow down your decisions and allow time to be on your side. You will teach others by simply allowing them to see you take the lead.
There’s a good chance you are already practicing these skills. As a business professional or as an individual, you have to determine every day what decisions and actions are the real priority. Managing your expectations of your capabilities and then managing the expectations of those around you will allow you to lead with confidence. Look at what you do now. Can you see areas where this is already mastered?
Review each request or question from your team and tell them what they can expect from your time involvement and when they will hear back from you. Communicate these expectations quickly. Do not ever leave them guessing. Get to know the audience you will lead as quickly as possible to understand their personality, work habits and communication style. Doing so makes sure what you are doing for them is understood by them. They are part of your team, part of the bigger picture.
Being able to be clearly communicate to them in a way that they understand is another area great leaders excel. Do you have a chance to practice this in your life today? If so, take it. Make an effort to knowingly communicate in a way that others will relate to. See how it makes a difference in the outcomes you need or want.
If you are unfamiliar with different ways you can communicate with others then educate yourself! There are many great resources available now to help you interact with people around you that will avoid confusion, conflict and hurt feelings. It is possible to change how you act and speak with others. The more you put forth effort to do this, the leader within in you will develop quickly and your audience will respond to you with greater loyalty and willingness to work with you.
We are all human and no one is perfect by any means, but you have a responsibility to provide the best communication possible to each and every person you deal with. If you do not understand a request, procedure or task that you need to accomplish, find your mentor and talk to them. Be sure they communicate with you also in a way that you can quickly comprehend what you need to do. The best leaders acknowledge that they may not know everything themselves but they know who to go to in order to get the information that they need.
Always, always stay a step ahead of your team members. Attention to details and good communication skills (both in speaking and listening) will allow you to do this. This is what makes a true leader so valuable.
The ones you lead expect you to bring creative, fresh and unique ideas to the table for them. Don’t wait for them to ask for simple ideas, learn from other leaders to see what works for them and offer it to all those you lead. Sharing ideas is part of what genuine leaders offer.
We have heard of ‘leaders’ in the world that lead everyone only one way. There are cases where these so called leaders have achieved some of their vision- but often it is through fear, intimidation and trepidation inflicted upon those around them. That is not the type of leadership we are talking about here. It is about serving those around you. Run your business and your leadership position on high standards with your morals and values in place. By striving to be the best in your field, you will earn the right to say you’re the best!
True leaders are always ready to take on new roles of leadership and learn along the way. They keep integrity from within strong and will use the ability to tie in the big picture with details. This skill takes time to refine- but it is worth it. Your desire to be a leader is a journey. There is always growth along the way. You will find that the roles you take on as a leader will be different today from what they were in the past. They will be different in the future as well. Enjoy the journey as you find your own leadership style!
By Kim Hughes
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