So, You Think You Can Lead?

Woman wearing a red skirt standing in front of a room full of people.

By Katherine Konrad, an experienced marketing professional and recent Celarity contractor 

The longer I’m active in the workforce, the more I appreciate a good leader. I’ve seen managers and then I’ve seen leaders; they’re not mutually exclusive titles, and a good leader is not easy to come by.

An article from Psychology Today defines leadership as: “using influence for a worthwhile cause.” I hope that defining a worthwhile cause is a little more intuitive, but how can we influence? What qualities does a leader possess and how can we exude such qualities? Read on to learn (or be reminded of) what characteristics a successful leader holds.

A leader…

Shows, not tells

It’s like the cliché, “actions speak louder than words.” A good guide leads by words, sure, but, more importantly, by example. Have you ever watched a C-suite executive – maybe, like, Sheryl Sandberg – give a presentation and think – “wow, they were so inspiring?” They have the “it” factor, whatever that is. A great leader doesn’t tell you that they are a leader, they show you with their demeanor, their posture, their confidence and their integrity.

Is self-aware

A leader knows that words carry weight. They know they carry the same weight in an email, over coffee, during a presentation, and over a work happy hour. They know that their employees and peers are listening and they choose their words carefully and thoughtfully at all times.

Talks about ideas, not people

As Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people”. A leader doesn’t participate in the watercooler gossip. They understand that gossip tears apart, not builds a great team.

Understands their influence

A leader is a person who sets the tone for work ethic and for the team or company culture. If a manager comes in early every day, there’s a good chance their direct reports will follow suit. If a leader wears jeans to work every day, their subordinates will feel free to do so as well. If a leader vents to their report about something deemed unfair – the sentiment will pass and permeate the team.

Is inclusive

It’s common human behavior to gravitate more toward some people, and not others. A leader knows not to play favorites and gives equal time, attention, and effort toward all their reports. A leader leaves cliques in middle school, or in the movies, where they belong.

Asks for critique

Not only is a leader’s job to encourage their reports to improve, they understand they’re only human too. They actively ask for feedback from both their superiors and reports and actively work on the critiques they receive.

 Blond woman smiling at the camera - Katherine konrad.

Katherine is a marketing professional by day, and a content creator by night. She enjoys summers in Minnesota, and anywhere else in the winter. When she’s not writing you can find her exploring new neighborhood hangouts; dressed up at a social event; jogging around Minneapolis lakes; or staring at her phone. 

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