(DGIwire) – If only life were like the movies. Everyone is a Vice President or CEO or “in-charge” of someone or something. Every problem magically works itself out in record time and the hero(ine) gets a promotion by the time the final credits are rolling. Think Working Girl circa 1988. The movie ends with the camera panning out to Tess McGill, former secretarial temp, in her new office overlooking Manhattan. In real life, it’s not that easy.
Many people are drawn toward leadership but once they get there (or close) they realize it can be much harder than it looks. Maybe your peers or staff aren’t exactly supportive of your goals. Maybe you’re not yet ready for the big leagues. Maybe your interpersonal skills aren’t quite developed. Maybe you just weren’t cut out for leadership in the first place! (Ha!)
When in Doubt Choose C? Whatever the situation, there are three paths you can take when you are in a leadership position and things start to get challenging; You can a) quit b) smile and pretend that nothing bad is happening or c) you can listen, learn, assess, redirect and move yourself and your team forward to even greater heights. When in doubt, choose “C.” But more likely, if you chose “C” it’s your inner leader talking control.
Born This Way? Not so fast! Being a leader does not come naturally for everyone. For some it is an evolutionary process that occurs on a daily basis. While the “big decisions” may not come instinctually for all, learning and applying that knowledge can be just as valuable. The most successful leaders are good learners.
Easy as 1, 2, 3, 4! Here are the four most important tools a leader needs to be successful.
1. Knowledge. Know your field. People are entrusting you to provide them with a service that they need. It’s your responsibility to know your trade or field almost like you know your own hand. “I’ve been in corporate communications and marketing for over 30 years. Nobody learns the rules and regulations overnight, particularly when it comes to properly advising a publicly traded client. Communications is an evolving field that can be very tricky to navigate.” says Dian Griesel, Ph.D., a communications & crisis management expert and President of Manhattan-based, DGI.
2. Communication. A good leader recognizes that communication isn’t just about what is imparted but perhaps more importantly, how it’s imparted. Effective communicators engage their subjects, allowing them to hear the message while feeling like an important part of a dialogue. Employees should feel comfortable asking questions or requesting clarification.
3. Listen. Good ideas and improvements can come from many different perspectives. Employees and clients can provide you with direction toward improvement. “I often call clients to request feedback: Just asking a simple, ‘What could we be doing better?'” Griesel continues. “We’re always willing to listen to suggestions. It’s good business to always seek ways to improve.”
4. Flexibility. You’ve heard the old adage about the best-laid plans. Well, a companion to that expression should be, “The wind does not break a tree that can bend.” A leader’s true character can shine in the face of adversity. How you handle the unexpected says much about you and your ability to lead.
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