1. Visibility—Some years ago I was giving a presentation to a group of educational leaders regarding effective leadership. I did a quick audit by asking them to identify the amount of time they spend in their office. I was shocked by the response, a complete lack of visibility. The point I drove home was that great leaders, effective leaders do not seek asylum in their offices. Leadership is influence, nothing more nothing less. To increase your capacity as a leader requires you to increase the influence you assert of your following. That level of influence cannot be reached from the office. In fact, we call those people managers, not leaders.
People should know that you are a leader. You must be visible. Do people in your organization know who you are? Do people in the community know who you are? Are you findable (is that a real word)?
How do you increase visibility? If you are in a leadership role already you should have an open-door time block in your calendar. This is time that your supervisees can come in and speak with you and they have your undivided attention. If you are an aspiring leader get involved in opportunities that increase your exposure. This opportunity should solve a problem for the company. For example, volunteer to oversee the project that streamlines the company’s sales management system.
2. Differentiation—One of the core strategies I teach is to challenge the status quo surrounding young professionals. The reason behind this is because some of the false assumptions of the past are no longer viable solutions. “Go to school, get a degree, and that lands you a job” is no longer the holy grail for differentiation.
As a leader ask yourself what are you known for? What can you offer people that they can’t get elsewhere? One of the most effective ways for finding and developing your differentiation is by finding your “Why”. Unfamiliar with this concept? Take a moment to watch Simon Sinek’s now famous TED talk—Start with Why. Simon teaches that in starting with and communicating your why, you begin to attract people with the same fundamental beliefs. Also, in starting with why you’re not just another young professional with a degree looking to move into leadership. You now have purpose and drive behind you—true differentiation begins with why and then tells the what and how.
3. Consistency—The bedrock of becoming an effective leader. As John Maxwell says, discipline keeps you going but consistency keeps you growing. Take a moment and reflect on your level of consistency and ask yourself the following: Are you consistent in all that you do? Is your online presence consistent with your offline presence? Are you consistent in how you communicate and follow up?
If you don’t take anything away from this article, take this consistency is one of the most desired qualities of a strong leader. Your level of consistency sets the tone for your team to be consistent.
4. Authenticity—Authentic leadership is simply the icing on the cake, the cherry on top, the one thing that brings effective leadership on home. To be authentic simply means to be genuine in your approach. When you have conversations, offer advice, lend your assistance are you genuine in all that you do. Said differently, are you keeping it real. There is no need to present a persona or “be fake”. No one likes, respects, or appreciates a leader that is inauthentic. Always, always maintain a sense of integrity.