"Become a great leader" is a career goal many people aspire to. And on their path to achieving this particular goal, they've likely come across hundreds of articles and books telling them exactly how to do so.
What I've learned about leadership, though, is that it tends to just be another word for "be the best version of you, at a large scale."
This is probably why achieving leadership status seems so elusive--because if the secret to great leadership is simply "be who you are," then that means there are as many different types of leaders as there are personalities in the world. How do you find the right one to model your leadership style after?
Don't get me wrong. I do think that leaders need to be authentic. But, as a performance strategist who has worked with hundreds of executives, I'd argue that what makes someone a great leader is taking that one step further. It's being yourself, but in a way that allows you to form true connections with others, in a way that inspires them to be their best selves, too.
The best leaders in the world are so inspired by what they're doing that their sheer energy is magnetizing. You can't fake that. You have to know yourself and be confident enough in who you are to express your true self to others.
So, when it comes to being known as a leader--a great leader--there are eight strategies that I think are absolutely critical, but this is the one that matters most.
Leadership Strategy #1: Do the work of knowing yourself - if you don't know what you're best at, and if you aren't aware of your blind spots, then you're not aware of what kind of leader you are, as well as how you're impacting others.
Here are seven more great leadership strategies that will help you climb the ranks while moving large groups of other people to do the same for a common goal:
Leadership Strategy #2: Learn how to manage your own motivation and engagement. It's a practice and a skill. If you want your people to do this, you have to model it.
Leadership Strategy #3: Put a lot of effort and time into re-wiring your brain's reactions to differences. Diversity in the workplace is essential, and you need to know how to fully embrace differences.
Leadership Strategy #4: Be aware of your biases and consistently review your behaviors with inclusiveness in mind. As a great leader, you want everyone to feel accepted and included in your presence.
Leadership Strategy #5: Walk your talk. There is nothing more defeating than a leader who says one thing and does another. Make sure that when you talk about your vision, expectations and cultural norms that you are embodying them all, all the time.
Leadership Strategy #6: Create an environment where your people feel safe to be themselves and do their best thinking.
Leadership Strategy #7: Have an inspiring vision but let your people feel empowered to make it happen.
Leadership Strategy #8: Get regular feedback so that you are in touch with how others feel in your presence.
Love these eight strategies and want to embody them? Feel lost as to how? This is where great leadership comes in again. Don't hesitate to ask for help. Getting an executive coach can be game-changing, and the best coaches will help you learn how to take action on all of the above strategies.
In fact, if you aren't sure how to interview a coach, share these eight strategies as a goal and see how the coach would help you with each of them. If what they say resonates, then you have a match. Even more exciting, before too long, you will be writing your own key strategies for becoming the kind of leader that others follow.