And while some of them were inspiring and talented, there was little understanding that a good writer doesn’t always make the best leader.
What does being a leader mean? How can you gain leadership skills to prepare for future success?
Leadership – like every valuable skill – is something you develop over time. In a recent Inc. magazine column, best-selling author Jacob Morgan notes that the best leaders are not always at the top of the organization chart. “It relies on your ability to influence and engage other people,” he says.
Jacobs says aspiring leaders need to concentrate in four areas: Self-reflection, balance, true self-confidence, and genuine humility. I would add that service on a professional board, such as the Public Relations Society of America or the International Association of Business Communicators, is a good way to dip a toe into leadership waters.
I agree with Jacobs that daily self-reflection can help set the foundation for strong leadership. Mindfulness meditation may be all the rage right now, but there’s a reason it’s so popular – taking stock of your behavior and discovering your true values are powerful tools for future success.
Good leaders listen to lots of opinions from different sources, but they always take responsibility and act quickly and decisively. If you weigh informed opinions and issue a verdict, you will strike a balance as a thoughtful leader.
Jacobs says leaders who are truly self-confident know where they stand and improve themselves every day. If you can say ‘I don’t know’ or ‘I was wrong,’ that’s a sign you have true self-confidence.
Even if you reach a great milestone in your career, never forget everyone who helped you reach your goals. Most of us started working in our chosen profession on the ground floor, and it was key mentors and colleagues who helped nurture our best qualities and chief capabilities.
Engagement with colleagues
This year I was flattered to be asked to serve as president of the Orange County chapter of IABC, the International Association of Business Communicators. One of the many reasons I joined the chapter is to hone my leadership skills while rubbing shoulders with leading local communicators.
I realized right away that the position requires a lot of good leaders – not just one – to be successful. I am fortunate to work with a board comprised of dedicated people who want success for our association and the communicators it serves.
Through IABC/OC I’ve learned strategic leadership skills while contributing to an impressive and far-reaching international organization. I’ve been able to share some of my own talents with colleagues in a variety of communications fields.
I try to remember what Jacobs notes in his Inc. story: You must constantly evaluate your progress and ensure you are staying on the humble, balanced path to be an effective leader.