A colleague’s daughter contacted me recently after being passed over twice for a choice promotion. She told me she really wanted to advance in the company, but didn’t seem to have what they were looking for.
“I’m responsible, easy to work with, and really good at my job,” she said to me.
“So what do you think is missing?” I asked … already knowing what she’d say.
She confirmed my suspicions: “I’m just not being perceived as a leader or someone who can effectively manage projects and teams.”
I believe that leadership presence is a combination of character traits and skills that can be learned. People must first identify -- and embrace -- their areas of strengths and opportunities for growth before embarking on a quest for leadership recognition.
When I found that this woman genuinely wanted to grow and take on more responsibility, I knew that she could learn to enhance her leadership presence.
Do you want to enhance your leadership skills? Here are some initial steps to take:
1. Reflect on the leaders that you admire, and what it is about them that you respect. What are the qualities that make them a good leader? What might you have to do to develop those qualities? Take a course? Be coached? Find a mentor within your firm? All of the above?
2. Speak up at meetings, when appropriate, and make sure that what you contribute has value. Be prepared with as much information as possible, and be ready to present your opinions with reasons to back them up – in any impromptu situation. Preparation is key. The more you do this, the more comfortable and confident you will become.
3. Learn to present yourself in a confident manner. This includes demonstrating appropriate body language and gestures, having a professional handshake, keeping a professional appearance (proper wardrobe and grooming), making direct eye contact (without staring), and honing an effective elevator “speech” to confidently tell others who you are and what you do.