Focus. Confidence. Integrity. Passion. These are key qualities of effective leaders, as outlined in a highly useful presentation at a recent Public Relations Society of America luncheon in Charlotte, N.C.
Establishing yourself as a leader is vital to building your role on your team, and advancing your career to the next level. It’s something that I am personally working on as I continue on my career path and set goals for the future.
Robin Abramson, a partner at CRA, a management consulting firm based in Radnor, PA, spoke about using strategic communications to more effectively position yourself as a leader in the workplace, and four key points really resonated with me:
To be a strong leader, you must be credible. And the single most important factor that impacts your credibility is being “present.” (Put down that iPhone when you are supposed to be paying attention!) If you are constantly checking your phone or email, or seem distracted, you will diminish your credibility and lose respect from your colleagues both up and down the ladder.
Remember that you are always “on stage.”
When you are in a leadership position, everything you do gets noticed and sends a message. And if you are trying to build your position as a leader at your company, the way you present yourself, your preparation for meetings, and the quality of your work will all set the tone for how you are viewed by your colleagues. Always remember to be professional and think about how you want to be perceived. It will help you better establish your ability to lead – whether it be leading a project, leading an account, or leading a team of colleagues.
Leadership is 100% substance, meaning that you must know what you are doing and must have the experience to back it up—but it’s also 100% style, meaning that you must present yourself in a manner that makes people want to work with you. Most people either fall into “powerful” or “attractive” styles. “Powerful” people are assertive, direct and focused on getting the job done. “Attractive” people are personable, cooperative and supportive. Being too much of one style or the other can hurt your ability to be a good leader. It’s important for a leader to be “powerful” enough to be heard, yet “attractive” enough to be followed.
Don’t underestimate non-verbal communication.
Non-verbal cues can be just as important as how you express yourself verbally. For example, if you work in an environment where the dress code is important, you must play by the rules and dress the part, or you will lose credibility among your colleagues. Additionally, your mannerisms and speech patterns can make a big difference in how you are perceived, so if you tend to use your hands in a distracting manner or talk in a way that lowers your credibility, you could be hindering yourself from advancing to the next level.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to establishing yourself as a leader, but these four tips may be worth remembering as you approach your next meeting or client call, or as you evaluate your everyday interactions with colleagues.