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Emerging as A Leader in the Workplace: How to be a Leader at Work?

Updated: Aug 4, 2022

All leaders can be counted as managers of some sort, but can all managers be considered effective leaders? You can land a management position, come to your office daily, and delegate tasks, but leadership is much more than that.

Remember, people can't choose their managers, but they most definitely choose the person they wish to follow, i.e., their leaders.

How can you become a leader in the workplace? You need to understand that leaders aren’t born; they nurture and develop the ability to lead successfully over time.

Why We Need Leaders in the Workplace?

In managerial terms, a leader is a vital part of any organization that helps direct resource utilization for improved efficiency and to attain organizational goals. You can get the necessary skills and knowledge needed to run a company, but putting them effectively to use while helping your company meet its goals is a different kind of challenge.

Influential leaders do so by coaching and guiding their teams and allowing them to express their own ideas along the way. Good leaders know how to take on tasks themselves and how to delegate tasks to employees. They empower their team so they can work in tandem to bring their organizational goals to completion. Employees who work under such leaders are also much more productive, content at work, and feel more connected with their organization.

Signs You Need to Improve Your Leadership Skills

Just because a specific leadership style may have helped you advance in your career doesn't mean it will help you in your new role. You may have to bring changes to your leadership style to become a more effective leader. Think:

  • Do you feel out of touch with the people you lead?

  • Do you face constant conflict, irritation, and frustration among your team?

  • Are people not too responsive to you?

  • Do you not see any professional or personal growth in the people you lead?

  • Do you find yourself uncertain about making decisions on time?

  • Do you refrain from giving your honest, constructive feedback to your workers?

All of these issues stem from poor leadership. To effectively avoid these behaviors, you need to master certain leadership skills.

How to be a Leader at Work?

The real goal is not how to be a leader but how to become a great leader.

If you are an employee looking to emerge as a leader someday or are already in a managerial position, there are some core skills you need to develop. Here we will discuss some ways you can improve your leadership style and emerge as an effective leader in the workplace.

1. Communicate and Engage with Your Team

Great leadership is all about communicating effectively. Poor communication often leads to miscommunicated goals, lost sales, and low morale. On the other hand, effective communication can help build trust, align efforts, inspire positive change, and better describe organizational goals.

Managers spend as much as 80% of their workday communicating with others. You have to understand that communication includes both listening to the message and correctly perceiving the emotions behind the message. Great leaders know when it is time to listen to others’ opinions, ideas, and feedback and when it is time to offer feedback of their own.

If you happen to initiate the communication process or are adding a response, always be clear, transparent, and empathetic. Clarity and transparency will ensure that there is no confusion about what you need to be done, what your company goals are, and how you hope to meet them. Empathy will help make people feel heard, seen, and appreciated in the organization.

2. Be Open to Criticism

"The trouble with most of us is that we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticisms." - Norman Vincent Peale.

Great leaders expect and welcome criticism. The way you handle criticism as a leader says a lot about the type of leader you are. Leaders are meant to be people of influence. But in order to positively influence others, you must first be able to deal with criticism constructively.

Understand that you are not leading well if you don't find anyone criticizing you. If you don't receive criticism, you are losing out on opportunities to improve yourself. You should be confident enough to know that there is always room for improvement and hope to improve yourself to a higher degree.

3. Strive for Excellence

Great leaders put greater emphasis on excellence. What does it mean to be excellent in your leadership capacity? Perfection implies that there is no further need for improvement, but this is quite unrealistic in a real-life scenario. Excellence is far more realistic; it means getting better with each given opportunity.

A leader strives for excellence as he pursues new opportunities and excels at each one. He hopes for constant improvement and does not shy away from learning new methods, techniques, and approaches. He further develops a culture of excellence among his team and the greater organization.

4. Build Emotional Intelligence (EI)

Emotional intelligence for leaders is essential if they hope to succeed. According to a survey, nearly 71% of employers state they value EQ (the quotient for emotional intelligence) over IQ.

Emotional intelligence is your ability to understand, recognize, use and manage your emotions as well as the emotions of those around you. You understand how emotions can affect other people when you recognize your emotions. You are furthermore likely to resolve conflicts in the workplace effectively, stay calm under pressure, and respond to the team with empathy. This is why building emotional intelligence is essential.

5. Connect with Your Employees

Being a leader, you need to learn to collaborate and carry your team forward with you to meet your organizational goals. Employers will only be able to progress with you if they can connect with you. When you connect with other employees, you can figure out their needs, wants, and struggles. You can better understand what they do best and build on their strengths to achieve the organizational goals.

To connect with your employees, make sure your employees feel valued and heard, and give an ear to what they have to say. Empower them enough that they come forward with their new ideas and feedback. This kind of support will also build loyalty among your team and lead to a reduced turnover rate. Quite simply, employees who feel connected to their leaders are more satisfied with their work and are more invested in their jobs.

6. Learn Self Awareness

Self-awareness is an important skill you must acquire if you hope to be an effective leader. Self-aware leaders understand what their role means and what it demands of them. They are further aware of their skills and knowledge, strengths, and weaknesses. Such leaders are better equipped to perform their responsibilities within an organization.

Self-aware leaders are also able to see how other people are affected by their actions and behaviors; they will then act in the best interest of their team as opposed to their personal interests. People will often look up to such leaders and trust their decisions.

7. Learn to Delegate

The worst thing you can do as a leader is take over as many tasks as possible. Understand that you can’t and shouldn’t do everything yourself. You need to learn to delegate tasks to your team members.

Think of it this way: If you aren't delegating tasks to your team, you are robbing them of their opportunities to grow and develop professionally. A leader should be able to identify who amongst their team is better suited to tackle a specific job or task. They further delegate tasks to save time, make processes more efficient and inspire their team to perform better.

8. Support Your Team

A true leader is there for his team. He offers them the support they need to do well in the workplace. He also offers recognition and commemorates them when they perform well. He gives an ear to their opinions and feedback and discusses them in a constructive way.

You see, employees expect this kind of support from their leaders. They look up to their leaders and wish for an environment where they may come forward and speak up if they wish to do so. Great leaders facilitate the cultivation of such an environment, giving employees the support they need to progress.

9. Bring Innovation to the Workplace

Industries and markets are dynamic and constantly changing. If you hope for your organization to keep its head up in the face of your competition, you need to adapt and overcome all types of challenges along the road. Innovation is your ability to bring about new processes, technologies, and fresh approaches to your product, service, or domain that simply makes it better!

As a leader, you should help bring innovation to your workplace. Take fresh, new, and innovative approaches to problems and see how you can tackle them. Such leaders look toward the future; they pay close attention to their organization's long-term goals. Employees will always trust to follow such leaders.

10. Surround Yourself with Like-Minded Individuals

Finally, you need to surround yourself with like-minded individuals. The type of people you spend time with are the type of people you may eventually become. To succeed, try to surround yourself with successful leaders or trusted members. Even positive thinkers in your close circle are great as they push you to be better.

You will find yourself grounded more strongly by surrounding yourself with positive influences. You will also find it easier to focus on your end goals. Such people will simply motivate you to work harder and become the leader you hope to be!

So now you know how to be a leader.

Emerging as a leader in the workplace is challenging but not impossible. If you put in some effort and learn from what we have discussed today, you can become an effective leader in your workplace.

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