What separates an exceptional employee from a common one? Perhaps you’re seeking a promotion or raise and asking yourself this question. One of the key items that make a difference is leadership. You may be familiar with this term, but do you know what leadership really means and what being a leader entails? Leadership is not an inherent quality; it is something that is learned and must be constantly practiced.
Before you begin acting like what you think leadership is, make sure you understand it. Leadership is many things, but it definitely is not barking orders at people and acting bossy. True leadership is about encouraging others, acting like a role model, communicating effectively, and problem solving. None of these qualities are hard to learn or use in the workplace.
Encouraging others is a skill that is learned through good sportsmanship. It is telling people that they can go the extra mile and accomplish something. Encouragement is also about highlighting people’s good qualities to boost their morale, making them feel valuable. Pay attention to your colleagues and when you see someone struggling, encourage them to keep trying. Just remember a few good words are better than an over thought speech.
Look for opportunities to act as the model employee; this will stand out greatly to your employer. Role models show up on time or even a few minutes early and avoid tardiness or leaving early. This shows commitment to the work and compliance with the company policies. Model employees also finish their work according to deadlines and company standards. Make the extra effort to dress professionally each day. Even though these things take extra effort, being a model employee is one leadership quality every boss will appreciate.
Effective communication is more about listening than talking. To communicate with someone effectively, you let them talk uninterrupted until they have conveyed their message. Then, you respond. Listening to other people will make you easier to talk to, as they know you will allow them time to convey their message. Always try to listen effectively, trying to understand what is being said, and treat others as you would want to be treated.
Another vital characteristic of leadership is the ability to problem solve. Problem solving requires effective communication skills. When a problem is presented, taking time to understand the situation and effectively communicate a practical solution sets a leader apart. Many employers appreciate the willingness to look ‘outside of the box’ and offer suggestions and solutions to problems that arise in the workplace. The best solutions are well thought out plans.
When all of these skills are used correctly, it will be noticeable with your boss and your work in general. Your co-workers will appreciate your efforts and ability to encourage them, listen, and help them with problems. Management will often notice and appreciate those qualities along with your model employee actions. Through the effective use of leadership skills, you can help yourself stand out in a positive way and increase the potential for promotions and new opportunities!
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