Strong leadership skills are a must for most positions, even if you’re not in a managerial capacity. With baby boomers retiring and the marketplace becoming more candidate-driven, companies are putting more focus than ever on retention and succession planning, so many are looking for those who have the skills and the desire to advance. Ultimately, whether you’re entry-level and looking for a promotion or a seasoned professional with direct reports, exhibiting these skills can only help.
Of course, that doesn’t mean it’s advisable to start bossing people around at work on your first day (or ever)! Here are a few tips on showing off your leadership skills in a safe and respectable way, no matter what position you’re in:
- Many people often assume being a leader means delegating and doing most of the talking, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. A good leader—or someone with strong leadership skills—practices active listening and absorbs information before making decisions. This shows not only that you take time to think before acting, but also that you respect your peers.
- Likewise, lead by example. This is especially helpful if you aren’t yet in a leadership position but hope to be someday, as setting a good example for other colleagues shows that you truly understand the job and what it’s like to do it. This can be as simple as offering coworkers help when you have some down time, which would help expose you to parts of the job outside your own roster of duties and show team spirit.
- Acknowledge your failures. While it’s important to build up a roster of accomplishments and reference them at the appropriate times—such as in an interview—be sure not to gloat about them at work. Rather, make sure you own up to your mistakes and do your best to rectify them, which will go a much longer way toward gaining respect and leading by example.
- Show enthusiasm. Not only will you inspire your coworkers, you’ll show your superiors that you’re excited about the job, which can make you a prime candidate for promotions and leadership positions in the future. Great leaders are typically invested in and enjoy what they do, which leads to better work relationships and more productivity to boot.
- Become a mentor. Few things show leadership skills as well as mentoring someone in your field. Whether you’re fresh to the working world and mentoring a new grad for their upcoming job search or senior-level and mentoring someone with a bit less experience, mentorship can be a rewarding experience for both parties—and great practice for balancing leadership and equality in a professional relationship.
- Be yourself. Ultimately, employers are going to want a natural leader—and if you’re doing or saying things you normally wouldn’t in order to exude a leadership mentality, it’s going to show. Especially if you’ve worked with your colleagues for some time, they’re likely to know when you are and aren’t acting naturally, and a sudden shift in behavior may confuse or even offend them.