If you strive to become an effective organizational leader, start with being the master of your own life. Where ever you are right now, it reflects the decisions you have made along the way. Each day we make decisions that align with our values, mission, and purpose. Therefore, those choices directly impact our relationships, finances, career growth, and health and wellness. Life gets challenging at times, but influential leaders don’t make excuses, they hold themselves accountable and take total responsibility for both their actions and the results. After spending over 25 years in a leadership role, I have witnessed the most powerful leaders’ common behaviors.
An effective leader is laser focused
Never lose sight of your personal, professional, and organizational goals. Of course, as an effective leader, you expect you to go above and beyond. “Good enough” is never enough, your bar is high, and you must excel. In order to do that, you must take care of yourself first. Only you can define what that means. However, for most total wellness includes taking care of body, mind, and soul. Eat well, get some exercise, practice meditation, or some form of mindfulness.
Research proves that these all have a profoundly positive impact on your ability to focus. For instance, even just 5 minutes of deep breathing can reduce stress and help you find a sense of calm that allows you to concentrate better. This can easily be done at your desk, between meetings, in the car, or at night if you’re having difficulty falling asleep. If you’re thinking to yourself, “I’m too busy”, the truth is you’re not. After all, everyone has the same set of 24 hours. It is a matter of priority. Make this practice a non-negotiable and part of your daily routine. As a result, you will be surprised at your ability to feel more in alignment with your day.
An influential leader builds strong relationships
An Influential leader is acutely aware of the value of developing solid relationships. With attention to communicating with their boss, direct reports, and key stakeholders, they seize opportunities to cultivate relationships. Correspondingly, they devote significant time, energy, and effort to develop and build relationships. Thus, it is one of the most valuable skills an effective leader can possess. Having strong relationships builds trust and credibility and is foundational to be an effective leader. From a business perspective, building strong relationships can be referred to as social capital.
Lead by example
As a leader, you are always on stage. People watch what you do more than what you say. In fact, in the first 3 seconds of entering a room, you have been sized up. Credible leaders demonstrate a high degree of integrity when their words and actions are in alignment with their intentions. Walk your talk, so you become a leader others want to follow. When leaders say one thing but do another, they create distrust. People follow those they trust.
Invest in yourself
Pursue continuing education to remain current with industry trends, read professional journals and books, attend conferences, and find a good mentor and/or coach to help you become your professional best. If there is a gap in any management competency area, be sure to 41 address that gap with the support of a mentor and/or coach. The right coach that has walked a similar path and has enjoyed career success can change your future trajectory and make a huge difference with your career.
An effective leader cultivates balance
It is fundamental to the quality of your life. In addition to your career, include dedicated time for health and well-being, family, friends, and recreation. Take time off from work on a regular basis, even if it feels like you can’t. If you put all your time and effort into your career and neglect the other areas of your life, you could be putting your health at risk and compromise relationships with the most important people in your life. If your job is eliminated one day, you might look back and wonder what all of that work was for and regret the important parts of your life that bring you joy and fulfillment.
Much of our internal unrest as leaders can lead back to how well we live up to our personal values, mission and purpose. The old adage is true that all the magic happens right between our two ears. Our thoughts have immense power in how we show up and how we react to our environment and stressors. Becoming a more effective leader is well within your reach by focusing on what really drives you to be your personal and professional best.
Editors note: Originally published September, 2019