There’s always talk about leadership, good leadership qualities and different leadership styles, and how to get to leadership positions (especially for women), however, what happens when you attain that coveted position? What are the qualities of a leader that make her successful and emulated?
This guest post answers this question from a writer, physician, and career coach Mrinilani Garv. She has extensive experience being led and being a leader. Here is what she has learned throughout her varied career. Hopefully, you can take away some key points to use in your own field.
Without further ado…
In my 17 years of experience of working in four different careers, first as an attending physician, then leadership and process improvement coach, as a business professor, and now as a career coach, I have worked with and interviewed some kickass women leaders in various positions across a variety of industries. Here are some things I noticed that are typical to leaders who are not only massively successful but also fulfilled in their careers.
What I learned from them completely shifted my idea of what it takes to be a true leader.
The most important shift was that you do not need a fancy title to be a leader. And you do not need another advanced professional or business degree. Most leaders have certain characteristics though that steer them in the direction of leadership. And really anyone can acquire those characteristics if they want to become a leader.
Here is the summary of what I’ve learned:
Qualities Of A Leader
They are committed to themselves
These women are committed to their personal growth and set clear goals, and work on their communication skills and time management skills. They do not give excuses to justify staying stuck in their career. They know that excuses guarantee a subpar paycheck, stunted career growth, and unfulfilled work (and personal) life.
They know that underlying all the excuses is fear, and commitment annihilates fear. When you are committed, you aren’t afraid to understand the reasons why you might be stuck, rectify them, and change the status quo. They don’t linger in limbo. They take action.
They demand their worth
There are only two reasons why even the most qualified, highly experienced professional women do not demand their worth– whether it is the salary, juicy projects, titles, hours, or being treated with respect. They believe:
- Their expertise is not worth the ask OR
- Their employer will not pay them
These women in leadership quickly realized they were NOT paid for their time, education, expertise, or experience but for the VALUE of the outcomes they help the organization achieve.
Employers are willing to negotiate anything IF you can make evident your ability to make an impact. They shared that demanding their worth was a game-changer. Demanding your worth reassures your employer that they made a great decision by hiring the best talent available. When they pay you more, they ensure that your time is used wisely. You get assigned to highly visible strategic projects. When you demand your worth, they are already expecting you will come back to ask for a raise. It takes away the awkwardness of asking for more.
They transform their mindset
Most professionals are brilliant when it comes to advocating for others but freeze and tremble when it comes to advocating for themselves. It has become fashionable to say that one has imposter syndrome.
But one of the qualities of a leader is to take ownership of your mindset. They know that they cannot change a toxic boss or a toxic culture, so they learned how to stand up for themselves. They fight off the limiting beliefs that hold them back from advocating for themselves. They are willing to go within instead of blaming people and circumstances for staying stuck in their job or for the size of their paycheck. They take radical responsibility and address self-doubt head-on.
They command the room
Most professionals sit on the sidelines in meetings thinking of them as time-wasters instead of using them wisely as opportunities to shine and showcase their value. Many professionals wait for permission from others to speak. When they speak, they look for validation and approval by gauging people’s body language or words.
Leaders, on the other hand, quickly realize that whether they were leading the meetings or not, it was important to take charge of the meetings. They show sincere interest and take an active role in meetings even if they assigned as an ‘FYI’ attendee. They do the homework and ask questions with curiosity and demanded data; good business leaders create vision, articulate their out-of-the-box ideas, and inspire teamwork. They use the meetings as platforms to showcase their value and did not hesitate at all to freely share their experiences and expertise.
They invest in mentoring
There is a difference between commitment and hope. Hope is a great tool but commitment and aligned actions help you achieve your dreams. Professionals are called professionals because they have the depth and breadth of knowledge of their profession. Leaders take it another step further and understand that they need support in order to improve their careers. The commitment to become a better version of themselves was so strong; they did not hesitate at all to invest in mentoring.
Working with an expert can help you clarify what you want from your job. You will have the exact actions you need to take to achieve your goals. The mentor will also hold you accountable for those actions and help you overcome any barriers that come along.
It was eye-opening for me what I learned. You don’t have to have an MBA to become an administrator or get promoted or even switch careers. When I applied all this to my own career, I showed up completely different at work. I was authentic and felt powerful. I stood up for myself. I advocated for myself. I stopped compromising. And it felt great! I am teaching the same to my clients and they are earning more, have more time, doing what they love, and have a sense of fulfillment and confidence about their career path.
To summarize, if you want your employer to be committed to your growth, be committed to yourself as well. It is that simple. Demand your worth by embracing and making your value visible. You focus on yourself instead of blaming outside factors. There is freedom in that and it also gives you a sense of control of your career. Using meetings as platforms to show your value serves you better instead of lamenting about them as time-wasters. And why waste time and leave money on the table when you can simply find an expert to work and fast forward to your dream role.
I think this article speaks towards the behavior behind the qualities of a leader. Aside from management skills, qualities of a good leader include, consistency, confidence, knowing yourself, and not being afraid to advocate for yourself (and others). If you think about a leader at work that you admire, I’m sure you’ll recognize almost all of the above. While some people come by this naturally, I do believe that these traits can be learned and honed with practice.
When it comes to applying this to your own life, understand that developing this behavior takes time. It is so ingrained in us to stay quiet, to not question, and to accept what is given to us. Doing the complete opposite as mentioned here will be scary and unsettling. Use small victories to push yourself forward and find that mentor to help you through it!
Your mentor doesn’t have to be a woman. Throughout my own career, I’ve gotten the most support from men. It’s whomever you get along with, whoever sees your potential and supports you. Turn to them. If you work on yourself regularly, one day you’ll wake up to realize that you embody all the qualities of a leader that you’ve admired in others, and that there are people who are now looking to you to lead them.
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