We’ve all heard the saying, “leaders are made, not born.” Vince Lombard apparently said it first, but it’s by echoed by many great men and women since. And so true, isn’t it? Just as being an introvert or extrovert is so often shaped by our experiences, so to is leadership.
Luckily, you can learn to become a great leader at any point in your life. It all comes down to changing your approach in how you interact with people — in the office or when starting a business for the first time and you’ve yet to establish an aura of authority with your new employees.
1. Establish leadership with Questions
Use any of the questions listed in the list below to establish leadership credibility with your team. Leaders always ask questions and the more pointed those questions are toward the betterment of the team or company, the more you’ll be seen as and looked toward as one.
- What if…?
- What must be done first?
- Have we considered…?
- Can you help me understand what you mean when you say ___?
- What have we possibly overlooked?
- Can we describe what success looks like for this project?
- Who else should we invite to be part of this?
- What will the client/boss think when we tell them this?
- Is the issue we’re talking about here the real issue?
- How did we let things get to this point?
- What can I do to help?
- Which leads us to…
Keep in mind that you have to really feel these questions, not just ask them. Make sure you’re exhibiting the appropriate emotion that the issue at hand deserves (ie., concern, discontent, excitement, etc.)
2. Establish leadership by embracing responsibility
Asking questions often involves embracing a certain amount of responsibility. It takes moxy to speak up and have your voice heard. However, you also need to be willing to go a step further, step up to the plate and take on more than you’re currently doing.
- Ask for more work.
- Find ways to improve processes.
- Offer to be the sacrificial guinea pig who goes to the boss with a new initiative.
- Be the recruiter needed to get more people on board with something important.
- Confess all your sins,
3. Establish leadership by asking being the one to ask “WHY?”
This might seem like it covered by point #1. However, being the person who’s consistently asking the big WHY is going to put you right in the front seat. With most types of questions, you need to have a firm grasp of whatever it is you’re asking. Not so with the WHY.
- Why are we doing this?
- Why did he/she say that?
- Why has the budget been cut?
- Why is it raining out today?
You can ask why anytime and people will automatically start seeing you as a leader of sorts. Especially if you follow up the whys with intelligent insights or any of the questions listed in #1 and/or have the skill and knowledge to help clarify the answers you get for others on the team.
4. Establish leadership by motivating
Why is the self-improvement industry filled with tens of thousands of motivational speakers? Emotions are contagious. Not with everybody mind you; there are a few sullied sorts who’re impervious to smiles and words of inspiration. But one of the best qualities a leader can have is the ability to inspire.
Your team’s craving it, guaranteed. Leadership roles favor those who consistently step to the front of the room and tell everyone that the impossible can be done, that an answer can be found if everyone pitches in, that life will prevail despite the obstacles… etc.
Don’t be a negative motivator though. You know, the type who’s constantly rallying the team to rise up against the actual boss or pointing fingers and getting everyone worked up into a violent frenzy. Be passionate but always in a supremely positive way.
Give people enough reasons to follow you and they inevitably will. If not, you need to come back to this list on a regular basis and reassess what it is you aren’t doing and figure out a way to fix it.