- Wise Words -
Leading from the start
by naomi burton
The ability to lead transcends a formal title or a line on a resume. Whether it’s your first day, first year or fifth year on the job, becoming a leader in your workplace is something you can do starting day one. Don’t believe me? I wouldn’t have either when I began my career in public relations five years ago. But since that point, I’ve learned every leader embodies three things: ambition, drive and passion for what they do. If you have these qualities, you’re ready to start owning your inner leader.
Do what you can.
As an Early Stage Professional, you’re not expected to lead teams or develop strategy. Those skills require time and experience to master (but you’ll get there!). However, that doesn’t mean you can’t begin shaping yourself as a leader from the start.. My advice is simple:
Do what you can, Take notes, Think ahead, Show up on time (or better yet, early!), Ask thoughtful questions, Be dependable..
These small actions add up in the long run and get you noticed for the right reasons. Make yourself indispensable by anticipating your team’s needs and supporting their efforts in meaningful ways. Be attentive to every situation and establish yourself as the dependable, go-to person to get things done. Know your strengths and demonstrate them through your contributions to the team. Show, don’t tell.
The Early Stage Professional Leadership Half Dozen
Defining great leadership is subjective. Everyone’s leadership preferences are different and we all respond differently to varying styles. Nonetheless, here are six ways to ensure you grow as a leader for your team, your office (and even outside of work!).
1) Listen. Strong leaders earn respect by embracing a variety of perspectives and acknowledging the value others bring. Even if you think you have the right answer, make sure you’re listening to your team members’ ideas before settling on a conclusion.
2) Communicate directly. Open, direct communication is effective communication. Make your needs, thoughts and intentions clear to avoid conflict and misunderstanding between your team members. Additionally, make sure that you’re approachable, allowing others to talk to you directly about any concerns or issues they’re having. I like to meet with team members outside the office for a coffee or happy hour to connect in an informal way.
3) Learn how to delegate It’s not enough to dole out tasks. Being a good leader means delegating well with clear, thorough instructions and follow through. Be accessible and receptive to questions and feedback, and you will build trust within your team and increase productivity. I stand by the idea that I will never delegate a task that I’m not willing to do myself. If you’re just starting out, you may not have anyone to delegate to, but pay attention to how leaders you admire do so. How do they assign tasks and ensure their team understands the ask? Observation is key if you’re not in a position to delegate.
4) Be aware and proactive. Be conscious of your surroundings and aware of when your colleagues need a helping hand. When I see that a supervisor is stressed or has a lot of meetings, I reach out to see how I can help him or her get through a hectic day. This not only proves that you’re a team player but shows your senior leaders that you’re able to look outside of your own to-do list for the greater good of the team.
5) Be accountable. Be as willing to own up to your mistakes as you are to your accomplishments. Strong leaders take responsibility for their actions (and often the actions of others). They acknowledge downfalls or mistakes, provide solutions and make necessary changes.
6) Be solutions-oriented. Approach every situation with solutions in mind. Don’t be critical of a process or assignment unless you also come prepared with a way to improve it. The ability to think critically and develop solutions is essential at every level of your career. Demonstrating these skills will make you invaluable to any team.
Those are my ideas on how to strive for leadership every day and how I stay true to my own leadership development. Now it’s your turn. Write your top approaches to everyday work down on a post-it note and keep them on your desk as a reminder of what you want to embody every day. When you’re having a hard day, re-read them to remind yourself of the path you want to be on.
What are the qualities you hold yourself to every day or admire in the leaders around you?
Naomi Burton is an Account Supervisor at Finn Partners, one of the world's fastest growing and largest PR firms. Naomi has traditional and digital experience in automotive,, healthcare, government and B2B industries. In her current role, she develops holistic digital strategies that directly impact ROI and KPIs with the end goal of helping clients disrupt industry norms in a meaningful way. For more information on Finn Partners visit www.finnpartners..com .
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