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By Helen Hawkes
Helen Hawkes writes on business, career and wellness issues for leading global magazines and digital sites. She is also a UNIFAM-qualified counsellor, life and health coach.
To build your leadership capability, it’s important to build a strategy. Leaders who want to reach their potential are often committed to growing themselves, with a vision for both their employer and themselves.
Before you can get somewhere, you have to know where that somewhere is.
“First you need to create clarity and purpose for yourself,” says leadership speaker and trainer Michelle Sales, author of The Power of Real Confidence.
“Be really clear on what you want to be striving for. Is it more challenging opportunities, or is it a role in a different industry?”
Be aware that your goal may change; in fact it should, says Sales. “Each year set new goals for where you want to be and what you want to achieve.”
Whatever has made you successful to this point in your life may not get you further; what else do you need to achieve your career goals? That might involve updating your skills, or developing your own, special talents.
“Focus on developing a deeper sense of self-awareness,” says Sales. “What are you great at? What gives you energy? What do you value? How do you show up? How do you build relationships?"
"When we walk into an office, we all have a choice about what we want to bring.”
Skills-wise, Sales suggests thinking about one, big development or learned skill a year that grows your areas of expertise. “Education is potentially part of that but open up your thinking beyond formal, university-type qualifications, especially in today’s agile labour market.”
Tips on combining work and study.
Team leaders not only need to be able to understand the vision of the company, but to communicate it effectively to staff. Accept opportunities to present an idea, speak up in meetings, or even try doing some public speaking.
Visualisation is a technique that may help you build confidence.
Try seeing yourself feeling relaxed and confident as you impart ideas, or directives, and focus in on those feelings of calm as much as what you’re going to say.
Who do you know who will advocate for you?
“Gaining support through relationships that support and develop you is critical,” says Sales.
“You need a sponsor, a mentor and a network.”
A sponsor is someone who knows what you are capable of.
A mentor helps give you advice or information on development.
Your network should consist of people who share your values or your vision.
Sales says LinkedIn has made it easier for us to make good connections and build relationships.
“If you are trying to develop a voice, or become known for a particular area of expertise, you can post, share and comment on a platform such as this. Also take the opportunity to congratulate someone else on a new role, as well as to reach out to others and connect.”
That said, don’t use it as your only networking tool.
“Look at who you know, and who surrounds you. Who’s your support team?” Attending networking events, in person, is also a great way to build contacts.
More social media tips.
There is opportunity for anyone in an organisation to display leadership qualities, says Sales. “Acting as a leader can start well before you are in a management role.”
Look at your day-to-day challenges and think about how you can demonstrate or embody qualities that will, ultimately, result in promotion, she suggests.
“Show others you have the potential to step into larger leader roles. Have a voice around things you stand up for every day.”
And, remember, that good leaders embody three, key qualities – compassion, humility and curiosity.
“Be human. Bring your head and heart. That’s the way to truly connect with people including your team, your customers and stakeholders.”
She’s on Q is a series of events that connect and encourage Queensland professional women to improve their financial wellbeing.
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Personal view disclaimer
The views of the author are not necessarily the views of the QSuper Board and QInvest Limited Board. We’ve put this information together as general information only.
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