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Leadership - How to Transform Your Career and Influence Others

Updated: Jun 14



Introduction.

At points in our careers, we can feel the need to lead, whether by taking on a management role or setting an example for our colleagues. Leadership is a valuable skill that can help us advance in our careers and positively impact those around us.


Leadership is a blend of art and science that can significantly impact your career and personal life. This article delves into leadership essentials, exploring whether leaders are born or made, the advantages of being a skilled leader, qualities shared by great leaders, what leaders provide to others, why introverts can be effective leaders, how to build leadership skills, different types of leadership styles, and offers two online leadership assessments you can take.


Are Great Leaders Born or Made?

The debate over whether leadership is an innate ability or a learned skill has been ongoing for centuries. While it's tempting to believe that some people are just "born leaders," the reality is more complex. History shows that many effective leaders developed their skills over time. They weren't born with a leadership gene; they grew into their roles through experience, education, and a passion for their cause.


Most experts agree that leadership skills can be cultivated. The abundance of resources available today—from books and online courses to seminars and mentors—makes it easier than ever to enhance your leadership abilities. Even a moderate increase in your leadership skills can positively impact your personal and professional life. This growth mindset is critical for anyone aspiring to lead effectively.


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Qualities Shared by Great Leaders.

Successful leaders share several key characteristics. Here are some of the most important traits:

  1. Effective Communication: Clear communication is crucial. Leaders must convey their vision, expectations, and feedback effectively.

  2. Ability to Delegate: Leaders can't do everything themselves. Effective delegation is essential for achieving large goals.

  3. Team Selection Skills: Choosing the right team members is vital. Great leaders select individuals whose skills complement their own and who work well together.

  4. Honesty and Integrity: Trust is foundational in any relationship. Leaders must be honest and transparent.

  5. Conviction and Commitment: Leaders stay the course despite challenges. Their commitment motivates others.

  6. Confidence: Leaders must project confidence to inspire trust and reassurance in their team.

  7. Flexibility: Adaptability is crucial as plans rarely go perfectly. Leaders must find creative solutions to unforeseen problems.

  8. Intuition: Experience and intuition help leaders make sound decisions, especially in new or unpredictable situations.


Lao Tzu once said, “A leader is best when people barely know he exists; when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.” This emphasises the power of subtle, empowering leadership. Qualities allow a leader to guide and inspire without being overly controlling, allowing those they lead to achieve success on their own terms.




What Leaders Provide to Others.

Leadership benefits extend beyond personal gains. Effective leaders significantly impact their teams and organisations:

  1. Accountability: Leaders take responsibility for their team's good and bad outcomes.

  2. Inspiration: Leaders inspire their teams to believe in their abilities and the project’s success.

  3. Vision and Clarity: Leaders provide direction and a clear path forward.

  4. Support: They offer the resources, encouragement, and backing needed for team members to perform their best.

  5. Confidence: Leaders build their team’s confidence, encouraging them to take on bigger challenges.


Sam Walton believed, “Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel. If people believe in themselves, what they can accomplish is amazing.” This highlights the transformative power of leadership, as it inspires individuals to reach their full potential and drives teams and organisations towards success.



Why Introverts Can Be Effective Leaders.

Contrary to popular belief, introverts can be exceptional leaders. Studies show that about 40% of top-rated leaders are introverts. Here’s why introverts excel:


  1. Listening Skills: Introverts tend to be better listeners, which is a crucial leadership skill.

  2. Lower Ego: Introverts are less ego-driven and more willing to give credit to others.

  3. Sense of Service: They often feel a stronger sense of service and commitment to their teams.

  4. Calming Influence: Introverts provide a calming presence, especially during crises.

  5. Preparation: They prepare thoroughly, thinking through possibilities to avoid surprises.

  6. Deep Relationships: Introverts often form more meaningful, supportive relationships with team members.


Introverted leaders bring a unique set of strengths to the table. Their thoughtful and reflective nature allows them to consider different perspectives and make well-informed decisions. Introverted leaders create environments where collaboration and innovation can thrive by valuing deep connections and fostering a sense of trust and respect within their teams. Embracing the quiet strength of introverted leadership can lead to powerful and enduring results.


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Are you ready to lead?

How to Build Your Leadership Skills.

Improving your leadership skills is a continuous process. Here are some practical steps:

  1. Develop a Vision: Define clear goals and the path to achieve them. Involve your team in this process.

  2. Demonstrate Your Values: Show your team what you stand for through your decisions and actions.

  3. Maintain a Positive Attitude: Stay optimistic even in challenging times. Your attitude sets the tone for your team.

  4. Enhance Communication: Continuously work on your ability to convey ideas and listen effectively.

  5. Motivate Team Members: Understand what drives each team member and provide encouragement and recognition.

  6. Show Commitment: Demonstrate your dedication to the project. Your commitment will inspire others.

  7. Be Likeable but Serious: Build strong relationships while maintaining professionalism.

  8. Maximise Strengths: Focus on your strengths and delegate tasks outside your expertise.

  9. Learn and Grow: Seek mentors, read books, attend seminars, and practise your skills regularly.


Building leadership skills is an ongoing journey that requires dedication, self-awareness, and a willingness to learn and adapt. By consistently applying these practical steps, you can develop into a leader who achieves personal success and inspires and elevates those around you. Remember, the most effective leaders continually strive to improve and lead by example, encouraging a positive and productive team environment. Keep pushing yourself, stay open to feedback, and never stop growing as a leader.



Career Coaching and Leadership Development.

Career coaching can be instrumental in building your leadership skills. A career coach provides personalised guidance, helping you identify and leverage your unique strengths. They offer strategies to improve your communication, delegation, and decision-making abilities. A coach can help you develop the confidence and resilience needed to lead effectively through tailored feedback and practical exercises. Whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, career coaching can accelerate your growth and enhance your leadership capabilities, setting you on a path to success.


Additionally, a career coach can assist you in navigating complex workplace dynamics, offering insights on handling conflicts, motivating diverse teams, and driving organisational change. They can also help you set realistic and ambitious career goals, providing accountability and support as you achieve them. Incorporating the latest leadership theories and practices into their coaching ensures that you are equipped with the most up-to-date skills and knowledge. Career coaching is an investment in your future, empowering you to become the leader you've always aspired to be and making a lasting impact on your professional journey.




Different Types of Leadership Styles.

Understanding different leadership styles can help you develop your own approach and adapt to various situations. Here are some common leadership styles:


  1. Autocratic Leadership: This style involves making decisions without consulting others. It's efficient but can stifle creativity and morale.

  2. Democratic Leadership: Also known as participative leadership, this style values team input and consensus. It fosters engagement and creativity but can be time-consuming.

  3. Transformational Leadership: Transformational leaders inspire and motivate their teams through a shared vision. This style is effective for driving change but requires strong communication skills.

  4. Transactional Leadership: Focused on routine and structure, transactional leaders manage their teams using rewards and punishments. This approach is effective for achieving specific goals but may not foster innovation.

  5. Servant Leadership: Servant leaders prioritise their team's needs, fostering a supportive and empathetic environment. This style builds trust and loyalty but may be less effective in high-pressure situations.

  6. Laissez-Faire Leadership: This hands-off approach allows team members to work independently. It can empower experienced teams but may lead to a lack of direction for less experienced members.


Two Online Leadership Assessments.

To further understand and develop your leadership style, consider taking these online assessments:

  1. Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI): This well-known personality assessment can provide insights into your leadership style and how you interact with others. Take the MBTI

  2. DISC Assessment: The DISC assessment focuses on four personality traits: Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness. It helps identify your strengths and areas for improvement in leadership. Take the DISC Assessment



Leadership and the Circle of Influence.

One powerful concept in leadership is the Circle of Influence, popularised by Stephen Covey. This concept involves focusing your energy and attention on the things you can control or influence rather than those outside your control. Effective leaders understand the importance of managing their Circle of Influence to drive positive outcomes.


Identifying Your Circle of Influence: Start by identifying the areas where you can make a difference. These might include your own behaviours, decisions, and interactions with others.


Expanding Your Influence: By consistently demonstrating competence, reliability, and integrity, you can gradually expand your Circle of Influence. This means building trust and credibility, allowing you to impact broader issues and decisions.


Focusing on What Matters: Instead of wasting time and energy on things outside your control, effective leaders focus on what they can influence. This proactive approach leads to more productive and positive outcomes.


Empowering Others: Leaders who focus on their Circle of Influence often empower their teams to do the same. By encouraging team members to concentrate on what they can control, leaders foster a sense of agency and responsibility within their teams.

Integrating the concept of the Circle of Influence into your leadership approach can help you become more effective and resilient. It enables you to maintain a positive attitude and stay focused on achieving your goals, even in the face of challenges.



How to Strengthen Your Leadership Influence in the Workplace.


Build Connections.

Building personal connections with your colleagues is essential for strengthening your leadership influence. When you take the time to build positive rapport, your colleagues are more likely to support your ideas and initiatives. Genuine connections create a collaborative environment where trust and mutual respect thrive.


Listen Before Persuading.

One of the most powerful ways to influence others is by truly listening to them. Give your colleagues your full attention, ask for their perspectives, and make them feel heard. When people feel valued and understood, they are more open to considering your ideas. Active listening demonstrates empathy and respect, paving the way for more effective persuasion.


Mind Your Body Language.

Non-verbal communication plays a significant role in how others perceive you. Project confidence through your body language by standing up straight, making eye contact, and maintaining an open posture. Confident body language reinforces your verbal messages and helps you appear more trustworthy and approachable.


To enhance your influence, strive to become a recognized expert in your industry or organisation. Continuous learning is key—attend conferences, engage in professional development opportunities, and share your knowledge with others. When you are seen as an expert, people naturally turn to you for guidance, which bolsters your leadership credibility.


Map a Strategy.

Creating a "power map" is a strategic approach to identifying key decision-makers and stakeholders relevant to your initiatives. By understanding who holds influence within your organisation, you can plan how to approach and engage them effectively. A well-thought-out strategy ensures that you are targeting the right people and aligning your efforts with their interests and priorities.


Give People What They Want.

To garner support for your ideas, frame them in a way that highlights their benefits to others. Understand the needs and motivations of your stakeholders, and communicate how your proposals will address these needs and contribute to the organization’s success. When people see how your ideas align with their own goals, they are more likely to endorse and support them.


By focusing on building relationships, practising active listening, projecting confidence through body language, developing your expertise, mapping out a strategic approach, and aligning your proposals with stakeholders' needs, you can significantly enhance your influence as a leader in the workplace. You can use these strategies to gain support for your initiatives and develop a collaborative environment at work.




Great Historical Leaders.

Learning from past leaders can provide valuable insights. Consider these influential figures:


  1. Winston Churchill: Known for his leadership during World War II.

  2. Franklin D. Roosevelt: Led the U.S. through the Great Depression and World War II.

  3. Margaret Thatcher: As the first female Prime Minister of the UK, she demonstrated strong, decisive leadership and made significant political and economic changes.

  4. Marie Curie: Pioneered research in radioactivity, winning Nobel Prizes in both Physics and Chemistry and led by example in the scientific community.

  5. Martin Luther King Jr.: A civil rights leader known for his non-violent approach.

  6. Abraham Lincoln: Led the U.S. through the Civil War.

  7. Mahatma Gandhi: Advocated for India’s independence through non-violent means.


These leaders, among others, offer lessons in resilience, vision, and the power of conviction. Reflecting on the achievements and qualities of these historical figures can inspire us to develop similar traits in our own leadership journeys. By studying their lives, we can learn how to navigate challenges, motivate others, and drive meaningful change.


Great leaders from history demonstrate that effective leadership is not about wielding power but about empowering others and staying committed to a greater cause. Let their examples guide you as you strive to leave a positive mark on your own organisation and community. The legacy of leadership is not just about what you accomplish but also about the impact you have on those you lead and the world you help shape.


Conclusion.

Leadership is not a static trait but a dynamic skill set that can be developed and refined. Whether naturally introverted or extroverted, you can become an effective leader by focusing on key qualities, learning from historical figures, and continuously practising and improving your skills. The journey to becoming the leader you’ve always wanted to be is ongoing, but with dedication and effort, it’s a path worth pursuing.


Stephen Covey rightly said, “Effective leadership is putting first things first. Effective management is discipline, carrying it out.” Embrace this philosophy, and you'll be well on your way to becoming an outstanding leader.


 

Regards, Paula

Careers and Personal Growth Coach

⭐ If you're beginning your journey or seeking a new path, I can help you plan your next steps.

⭐ If you need to discuss your career situation:

📌 Contact me at info@donnancoachingservices.com








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