If you’re an ambitious woman looking to land your first leadership role, then there’s one universal truth you need to hold onto, and use to influence everything you do and say, and it’s this:
When other people look at me, they see a leader?
It’s simple to understand, not always so easy to achieve though, especially if you’re not in a leadership role right now. It’s the career equivalent of the chicken and the egg. But it’s the key influencing factor that will determine whether or not you make it to the interview room.
It’s a question I’m asked a lot by clients – how do I demonstrate my leadership capacity when I haven’t got the role yet?
The answer lies in some of the skills you’ll need to lead and how well you demonstrate those in the workplace. Once others see that you have those skills, then you’ll increase your chances of being seen through a leadership lens, and you’ll be more likely to be considered seriously for those types of roles.
Here are five skills to cultivate on your leadership journey; take the opportunity to demonstrate them on a consistent basis.
1. Curiosity. Now this might have killed a few cats, but it will bring your leadership career to life as you become engaged with your environment and the people in it. This skill will help you to look at what’s around you with innovative eyes and ask ‘what’s possible?’. It will help you to ask questions that unearth hidden truths and uncover stale practices, invigorating relationships and prompting new ways of thinking about ‘how we do things round here’. Curiosity is about the new and the different, bringing energy and light to refresh and revitalise teams and organisations.
2. Problem-solving. I’ve yet to see a leader, team or organisation that doesn’t have a problem. Usually, there are many, and they often beset existing leaders, who can get ground down by them. The ability to offer swift solutions to problems is a skill that will help you shine brighter than the Oxford Street Christmas lights. Once you’ve become curious, you’ll uncover the problems. Your next skill is to find ways to solve them and offer those up.
3. Assertiveness. You have a voice and you need to get it heard – and if it’s a leadership position you’re after, it needs to be heard by some key people. You know who those are don’t you? You need to be confident enough to approach those people and assertive enough to fight your way through the throng of noise that often surrounds them. Allowing others to talk over you isn’t an option; voicing what you believe in and articulating your key message is a necessity.
4. Tenacity. Have a goal in mind and be determined to achieve it. Using your problem solving skills, you’ll find ways around almost any objections and barriers to achieving what you want. If you understand what success looks and feels like for you and then focus on that end goal, you’ll be able to pull yourself back to the centre whenever you experience setbacks. Perseverance in attaining the end result will also impress those key decision makers; you’ll deliver the results they want to see.
5. Rapport-building. The ability to focus on someone else’s needs and wants will help you to create a charismatic presence that will draw others to you. Never underestimate our need as humans to feel that we matter. Shining the spotlight of your attention onto others will help them to feel important, understood and heard. This skill, when practiced from a place genuine interest in the people around you, will enable you to engage with anyone, anywhere. And you’ll be remembered for it.
These five skills, when used consistently, will help you demonstrate your leadership capacity because they will help you to show up as a leader; someone who is engaging, able to get their views heard and who has a determination to bring fresh ideas to help reinvigorate established practice, lifting the performance of those around them.
Your first job when you want to move into a leadership role is to show up as a leader.
When other people look at me, they see a leader.
This article was provided by Susan Ritchie.
Susan Ritchie is a leadership coach who teaches ambitious professional women how to develop the credibility, visibility and impact they need to land their next promoted post and establish themselves as a leader.