“You are young and a woman, now get over and win them over with your competence,” he said standing over my desk. That was one of the most valuable single pieces of advice I was given early in my career. Even though it was decades before a #metoo movement, my leader at Chick-fil-A recognized that it was a struggle to be a young female leader and he often encouraged me to find a way forward even when it was hard.
The advice to lead from competency was helpful, but competency is not enough when you are pioneering a change in mindset and culture. It takes much more than a high level of technical expertise to influence a shift in thinking to become a leader who makes an impact on those they lead and serve.It takes much more than a high level of technical expertise to influence a shift in thinking to become a leader who makes and impact on those they lead and serve. Click To Tweet
What skills are necessary beyond competency to be an effective leader, especially when you bring a different perspective?
- Self-Control. You can’t always say what you are thinking, even if you are right. Waiting for the right opportunity to communicate a carefully thought- out message is critical to becoming a person of influence. Managing your emotions and not allowing them to overpower your message helps others hear what you want them to understand. It takes discipline to not be easily offended so that you don’t shut yourself or others down.
- Courage. As important as it is to look for the right opportunity to communicate, it is just as important to have the courage to step up when the opportunity presents itself. Influential leaders are willing to risk popularity to gain respect. Respected leaders generally accomplish more than popular ones, but to be both is possible.
- Clarity. If you have a point of view on an issue, then craft a message that is clear and be prepared to communicate it. A consistent and clear message makes it easy for others to understand your perspective and they become willing to follow what is clearly articulated.
- Conviction. Know what you are for far more than what you are against. It’s easy to say “no,” but look for ways to say, “yes.” Don’t bend on your values, but be flexible in your methods. There is usually always more than one way to do something so don’t be afraid to consider a different way to solve the problem or make a decision. However, don’t waiver in your deeply held purpose and beliefs. If you do, others will not believe you to be authentic and you will lose followership.
- Collaboration. Leaders get things done when they work well with others. Find common ground and build from there to win-win solutions. Listen for understanding when others present their ideas. Find something to buy into to which your own ideas can benefit the solution. Building relationships and collaborating with team members, other leaders and even the competition will make you a leader that others love to follow.
- Confidence. Part of the reason my boss gave me that feedback in the first place is that I was showing a lack of confidence. Leaders must have enough confidence in themselves to attract followers. Team members want to attach to a leader who plans to be successful and exudes the confidence that the team can and will perform well.
Perhaps, you are where I was and you are early in your career trying how to crack the code to gain more influence in an environment where your difference is notable. Maybe you are mid-career and unsure why you have stalled in your growth. You, too, could be a pioneer trying to forge a path for others like you to follow. Whatever the case, pause to consider your own development in these 6 critical capacities for an influential leader. Could growth in these areas boost your performance and increase your influence?
It wasn’t easy, but I did get over it. I quickly learned that these 6 steps I have outlined would get me where I wanted to go much faster than expecting others to magically change their perspective. I wonder if they might help you Crush Your Career, too?
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