Leadership is not one single trait reserved for managers and others in authority positions. Great leaders cultivate many traits, and most of them are the same traits that take any individual to the next step on their career path. Taking the time to invest in these traits not only makes you the logical candidate for promotion and leadership roles, it also moves you significant steps closer to your individual career goals.
Let’s explore a few of these traits.
1. Intrinsic Motivation
Also known as “self-motivation,” intrinsic motivation means taking creative and pro-active steps toward reaching goals, without waiting for anyone else to inspire or lead you. Naturally, leaders take their teams with them on the journey toward the completed goal, but they must determine and take those steps without needing others to motivate them.
2. Active Listening
An important component of leadership is listening to others, incorporating their ideas, and making compromises to create the most advanced and complete product possible. Practicing active listening includes:
- …listening to understand.
- …focusing on the what the other person is saying instead of jumping ahead to think of the perfect response.
- …ensuring your body language is open or neutral — never hostile.
- …asking for ideas and thoughts from the most reserved team members.
- …patiently waiting in silence for the other person to complete their thought.
And of course, the list goes on, but these are basic and simple ways to start.
3. Solution Orientation
Focusing on the issue is an extremely common and entirely understandable response to problems. But it is also ineffective.
The first step to finding a solution is to understand the problem, but you must then move on to the subsequent steps. Take the past into account, take stock of the present conditions, and then take some creative risks toward finding a solution.
4. Effective Communication
Successful leaders know how to influence others, and this influence comes in many ways through effective communication. You can demonstrate this kind of communication in several ways.
- Always considering if the time and audience is right before speaking.
- Practicing actively listening as defined previously.
- Soliciting ideas from others and ensuring that each voice is equally evaluated.
- Keeping your attitude, facial expressions and other body language positive.
These traits are often seen as “natural gifts,” but with patience and dedication anyone can cultivate them. So when you are ready to take the next step on your career path, choose one or all of these leadership traits and see how they bring your goals steadily closer.
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