3 Questions to Ask When You Feel Like You’re Falling Behind in Your Career

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You see the latest “30 Under 30” article and—spoiler—you’re not on it. Then you read a status update that your college roommate started her own business. Now, for the icing on the cake: Your company honors the youngest person to ever be promoted to senior management. And, you guessed it, it’s not you. You start to wonder: Am I falling behind in my career?

The short answer is “No.” Careers are not a race. Nor is there one, clear, winning outcome that everyone should be striving for. However, your jump to quick comparisons may indicate that you feel like you’re coming up short of your personal career goals—and that is something to pay attention to.

Here are three questions to ask yourself to gut check how things really stand:

1. Am I Expecting “Overnight Success?”

You’re working yourself to the bone doing what you know is great work. But your efforts aren’t leading to advancement and recognition, so you’re pretty sure you’re doing something wrong.

Not necessarily. You’ve heard the term “overnight success,” but do you know that people generally work for many years before that big moment? (It took Pokemon Gotwo decades to become a phenomenon!) Or that many successful people fail before succeeding? Just because you’re not receiving any cool awards or invitations (yet), doesn’t mean you’re on the wrong track.

OK, if I’m Not on the Wrong Track, How Do I Make Sure I’m on the Right One?

First, keep up the good work! Recognize that there is value in doing a good job, independent of any external accolades. You have to put the work in before you’ll reap the rewards.

That said, if you feel routinely overlooked, consider spending more time on making yourself stand out by working on your personal branding—that means your social media presence, your personal site, and what comes up when prospective hiring managers Google you. It’s up to you to tell people around you that you’re up to something special. (Bonus: Even 15 minutes a week can make a difference!)

2. Am I Prioritizing Other Values Over Industry Fame?

Imagine a world in which you’re frequently asked to be a guest on The Today Show, regularly featured on Influencer lists, and called out at company meetings and given awards—you’d do anything to make those things happen, right?

At first, you might say, “Hell yeah!” But then when told that it would require working seven days a week, giving up time with your friends and family, and sacrificing your sleep—you might change your mind.

If you’re honest with yourself, you might find you don’t care about having an ambitious, award-winning career, because your priorities are truly elsewhere. You might prefer to spend all the attention and energy that other people spend climbing corporate ladders on your loved ones or hobbies. And that’s OK!

There are very few truly bad career choices (outside of the obvious ones which you can probably figure out on your own). Just know that every choice has consequences and how you prioritize them determines how fast you move up that ladder.

I Do Love Time With My Loved Ones, But How Do I Stop Feeling Jealous When My Co-worker Wins Awards?

When you find yourself making comparisons and feeling jealous, take some time to reconnect to your priorities. Remember that you get to choose what you put first—and if you want to, you can still change your mind. As long as you’re happy and fulfilled, you’re doing OK.

3. Have I Been Slacking Off?

Some people take their career path above and beyond, becoming the professional athletes of the work world. Leveling up that hard takes blood, sweat, and tears—and if that’s not your cup of tea that’s okay, not everyone who jogs wants to be an Olympic sprinter.

But that’s also not an excuse to let your career get “out of shape.” Have you been running on autopilot? Sitting on the sidelines? Staying in your comfort zone and avoiding new challenges? There’s a major difference between wanting to stay where you are and coasting.

Yes, I Guess I’ve Been Slacking a Little Bit…

Keeping with the fitness analogy: Just like it’s possible to start eating right and exercising again, putting time and effort into your career will help you to course-correct. Identify and set new goals for yourself. (Not sure where to start? Get some help from a career coach.) Put in the work to set your career on a healthier path.

There is no one-size-fits-all career path and comparing your trajectory to others isn’t productive. Some professionals fly forward quickly while others take a “slow and steady” approach. A job can be a paycheck or a passion. Career growth may even take a back burner while kids are small or family members need extra care. The key is to pay attention and to be clear on your own priorities so that you can adjust your career to fit your goals at each phase of your life. So long as you’re not “falling behind” in your own estimation, you’re doing just fine.

https://www.themuse.com/advice/3-questions-to-ask-when-you-feel-like-youre-falling-behind-in-your-career?ref=carousel-slide-0

ARE YOU IN NEED OF TOP TALENT NOW? Don’t have the time to spend nor available bandwidth to look for your company’s perfect match? Does this leave you with projects undone, unable to launch new initiatives or deliver desired output, let alone to grow your profits? Is your hiring process stalled and limping along with unfilled requisitions? Discover the ease and satisfaction of partnering with experts whose ONLY mission is to accomplish laser-focused search and to acquire top-tier skill on your behalf, each and every day! Contact us at 415-234-0707 ext. 5 or email at connect@superiansources.com Find out what a customized service SAVES you in TIME, MONEY and RESOURCES!

 

ARE YOU TODAY’S TOP TALENT LOOKING FOR A NEW ROLE? Do you want assurance that you are represented by the best and have opportunities open to you within exceptional workplaces? Have you heard that being presented by a boutique search firm is the edge you need to get in the door and have your opportunity to shine? Contact us at 415-234-0707 or email at connect@superiansources.com – http://www.SuperianSources.com

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3 Lines Every Hard Worker Wishes Their Boss Would Just Say Aloud

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Your boss

A) is perfectly pleasant
B) is competent
C) is smart
D) is appreciative

If you’re able to check off A through C, you’re doing pretty well. You generally like the work you’re doing, the hours are decent, plus you’ve got fair pay, good benefits, and a mission you respect. The only thing missing (aside from peppermint tea in the kitchen) is letter D above.

Your boss isn’t very good at showing you that you’re valued. Come to think of it, you can’t recall a time he commended you for a job well done. No complaints about your work or feedback that suggests you have a ton to improve upon, but no praise either. If only he knew how far a few words of appreciation at work would go.

If he could just say one of the following, you’d be motivated to kick butt for at least the next year.

1. You’re Doing Great

On some level, of course, you know you’re doing good work. The feedback you received last year at your annual review was pretty fantastic, actually. You’re on track for a promotion, and you even got the raise you were angling for.

All signs point to you getting high marks and a big thumbs up from your boss (and your boss’ boss!). The only thing absent is the praise. Aside from the standard review, you can’t recall a time your manager expressed satisfaction in the job you’re doing. When has he ever said, “Hey, Darren, really nice work on the deck you turned in yesterday. I’m impressed.”

Um, never? And, look, if it were a choice between verbal praise and a padded paycheck, you’d take the latter, but why can’t it be both? Why can’t your boss look you in the eye and let you know that you’re a valued asset and that he’s duly pleased with your performance more often than once a year during the than the obligatory employee assessment?

2. Thank You

No, it’s not as though you think you deserve to be thanked for doing your job. You are getting paid, after all, and some might argue that’s a form of gratitude in and of itself, but when it comes to all of those little and not-so-little things your manager asks you to do? Couldn’t she, at least some of the time, just say thank you when you turn something in, when you meet a deadline, when you go above and beyond, or when she’s pleased with your efforts?

It’s hard not to feel like you’re taken for granted or that your role exists simply to complete your boss’ demands when those two precious words are incomprehensibly absent from her speech. Fine if she doesn’t want to say it every time you check something off the good ol’ to-do list, but how refreshing would it be to occasionally have your supervisor’s asks be sealed with a “Thank you.”

3. Happy to Have You on the Team

When you stop to consider how the team ever survived without you, you’re not being cocky, you’re being realistic. There are others out there who could do your job, sure, but you believe the work you’re doing for the department is stellar, and the culture fit couldn’t be better. So why can’t your manager tell you he’s happy to have you on his team? What’s so hard about letting you know that you’re an asset and that you were a great hire?

After all, it reflects well on him that you’re working out so well. Day in and day out, you make him look good by how well you’re performing. It’d be nice to hear him say what you’re pretty sure he already believes.

No matter how good you have it, it’s inevitable not to dream up how things could be even better. If you and your boss have a solid relationship, you should be grateful for it as it’s not the case for a lot of people. And it’s not like you absolutely need the praise to keep going—you’ve been excelling well all this time without it—but you would like it.

After all, it’s nice to feel appreciated. Lest you begin to feel taken for granted, consider what you can do to get your boss to say a few of these simple yet important things.

  • Thank him when it makes sense to; maybe he’ll eventually follow your lead.
  • Ask him outright how he thinks you’re doing—he may just be unaccustomed to delivering feedback, perhaps he never had managers who praised him.
  • Inquire as to how you can improve and express interest in knowing what it is he thinks you’re doing well. Make this an ongoing conversation, and show him that you’re open to both constructive criticism and approval.

Just remember, you can’t control what comes out of your manager’s mouth—but you can control what comes out of yours. So if all else fails, build the culture of gratitude you want on the team by openly appreciating others. It might not rub off on him, but it’ll no doubt rub off on others.

https://www.themuse.com/advice/3-lines-every-hard-worker-wishes-their-boss-would-just-say-aloud

ARE YOU IN NEED OF TOP TALENT NOW? Don’t have the time to spend nor available bandwidth to look for your company’s perfect match? Does this leave you with projects undone, unable to launch new initiatives or deliver desired output, let alone to grow your profits? Is your hiring process stalled and limping along with unfilled requisitions? Discover the ease and satisfaction of partnering with experts whose ONLY mission is to accomplish laser-focused search and to acquire top-tier skill on your behalf, each and every day! Contact us at 415-234-0707 ext. 5 or email at connect@superiansources.com Find out what a customized service SAVES you in TIME, MONEY and RESOURCES!

 

ARE YOU TODAY’S TOP TALENT LOOKING FOR A NEW ROLE? Do you want assurance that you are represented by the best and have opportunities open to you within exceptional workplaces? Have you heard that being presented by a boutique search firm is the edge you need to get in the door and have your opportunity to shine? Contact us at 415-234-0707 or email at connect@superiansources.com – http://www.SuperianSources.com

The Simple Habit That’ll Boost Your Career (and Your Karma!)

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I’ve always been in the camp that people should help those around them whenever and wherever they’re able to. Recently, I learned that this isn’t only a healthy and happy personal practice—it’s actually also a valuable professional strategy. If you’re job searching in particular, your unique set of skills will be especially useful to those around you, and doing favors that not anyone can do will immediately set you apart in the process.

I recently read Sujan Patel’s short piece on ReadThink, where he makes the point that “helping is the new economic currency that can revolutionize businesses in every industry.” I don’t run a business, but that doesn’t mean that I should ignore this idea that helping other people could get me ahead in my career.

After all, we’ve all heard of the value of mentorship for individual careers. But Patel urges us to think even further beyond that relationship, considering how day-to-day interactions with other people in your network, big or small, can add value and happiness to everyone’s lives—no formal relationship required.

Take the job search, for example. It would be a total dream come true if you have a longtime career mentor who helps you go after every new position you want. But, I’m willing to bet that’s highly unlikely. Instead, think about the idea that offering help—rather than receiving it—could be even more useful.

“Offer your advice and insights, and help out with an area you have experience in,” he recommends. “Your network is more likely to hire you after seeing what you can do, than just being told what you can do.”

This is the key: Seeing what you can do. When you can show off your unique skill set in a helpful and kind way, such as with doing favors for others, it becomes a memorable action for both sides. And when it’s time to be on the market for a new job, those people you helped out will be among the first to attest to your skills.

Some of my favorite design project opportunities came from pro bono work for friends and family—people who were so supportive and proud of my work that they shared it with those around them. I didn’t realize it at the time, but when I was building my initial portfolio by doing free work, I was also laying out the foundation for my very first client base. By offering to help people spread information for important events and initiatives, we both took away vital experience and exposure to move forward.

And I want to stress that it was because it was design work as a favor—not a random act of kindness—that I was able to stand out from the crowd. The essential thing is to do favors, when people need them done, that you can do well.

https://www.themuse.com/advice/the-simple-habit-thatll-boost-your-career-and-your-karma

ARE YOU IN NEED OF TOP TALENT NOW? Don’t have the time to spend nor available bandwidth to look for your company’s perfect match? Does this leave you with projects undone, unable to launch new initiatives or deliver desired output, let alone to grow your profits? Is your hiring process stalled and limping along with unfilled requisitions? Discover the ease and satisfaction of partnering with experts whose ONLY mission is to accomplish laser-focused search and to acquire top-tier skill on your behalf, each and every day! Contact us at 415-234-0707 ext. 5 or email at connect@superiansources.com Find out what a customized service SAVES you in TIME, MONEY and RESOURCES!

 

ARE YOU TODAY’S TOP TALENT LOOKING FOR A NEW ROLE? Do you want assurance that you are represented by the best and have opportunities open to you within exceptional workplaces? Have you heard that being presented by a boutique search firm is the edge you need to get in the door and have your opportunity to shine? Contact us at 415-234-0707 or email at connect@superiansources.com – http://www.SuperianSources.com

3 Things You Need to Do if You’re Unsure About the Path You’re Currently On

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Four years into my career, I still feel somewhat awkward when someone calls me “professor.” Why? Well, because I never imagined being here. By most accounts, I’m not your everyday college professor. I didn’t spend years in a relentless pursuit of my position. Quite the opposite, in fact: I consider myself to be the accidental academic.

It sounds bizarre, but like so many young, black males in the ’90s and now, I grew up with the misconception that playing professional sports was the only way to “succeed.” By the time I arrived at Rutgers University with a full ride to play Division I football, I’d already picked out my three-piece suit for the NFL draft. A little premature, I know.

I regret to say that I chose not to engage academically. Instead, I committed an array of academic improprieties, mentally crippling myself without even knowing it. Case and point: I didn’t read my first book in college, cover-to-cover, until my senior year. It was around that time that I realized the prospects of becoming a professional athlete were slim to none. A defensive back with a bum knee and little playing time under my belt, I just wasn’t good enough.

Forced to do something different, I started a personal renaissance of sorts. And as Audre Lorde powerfully wrote, “If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive.” The problem was, I didn’t know who I was without sports. What was I good at? What and who did I want to be? How was I going to get there?

Because I didn’t know what do, my twenties became my blank canvas to try the different colors of life. I entered a master’s program, sold copy machines door to door in LA, was a doorman for the BET Awards After Party twice (I successfully avoided an unfavorable encounter with Suge Knight), worked in politics, acted in a later-cut scene of a music video, took the LSAT, tried modeling (with no success), interned for Congress, judged a beauty pageant, took the police exam for the LAPD and scored a 98%, played neighborhood barber, and finally, gained admission into a doctoral program. Needless to say, these years were a bit all over the place.

But you still might be wondering, how did I become a professor? Well, my desire to jump into anything and everything naturally calmed down over time, and I discovered that the life of a doctoral student doesn’t lend itself to very much outside of reading and writing. By the time I began writing my dissertation on the academic exploitation of the student athlete, I was determined to become an athletic director and stop the exploitation of black male student athletes, similar to what I experienced.

However, my dissertation advisor suggested that I give teaching a try, just about walking me into a class to guest lecture. I was kind of nervous. OK, very nervous, but I got over it and spoke. Then, I did it again and again at other institutions. Before I knew it, I was interviewing to be a full-time assistant professor at a small liberal arts college outside of Boston.

It’s now been four years since I started teaching, and I love it. So much that I think I just may stick with this for a bit and leave my days as a salesman, doorman, model, music video actor, beauty pageant judge, and barber behind.

I hope that for others who are equally unsure about their paths, mine serves as a reminder of three things:

1. Embrace the Road Less Traveled

Of course, there are suggested pathways to a career, but there is no one way. Our paths are just that: ours. They’re a hodgepodge of trial and error, good advice, not-so-good advice, encounters with interesting people, unwavering hopes, crushing reality, and hopefully a little bit of fun. Never compare your path with someone else’s, because once you dig past the surface level, you’ll discover no two are identical.

2. Bet on Yourself

The notion of success is subjective, so there’s no reason to be crunched into other people’s definition of it. To find yourself and your success, you have to put yourself in a position for self-exploration. In other words, don’t be afraid to try something new because you’re afraid.

When I was offered admission into my doctoral program, I had a choice: stay in my comfortable, $65K a year job, or give up the money and bet on my future self. Many people, including my family, told me I was taking too huge of a risk, but I could not and would not listen. I took a cue from William Ernest Henley and decided that I was the master of my fate and captain of my soul.

3. Establish a Board of Advisors

In my late twenties, I realized that I’d been playing the game of life without a coach or trusted mentor. I was operating under the false impression that I could figure everything out myself. Sure, I was able to do okay, but I wanted to do better.

That’s when my fraternity brother told me that, just as companies have boards of advisors, so should individuals. Boards are there to advise, vet, redirect, listen, and support the growth of a company. If Fortune 500 companies are willing to seek sage advice, we should probably consider doing the same. As they say, there is no time like the present to create your future.

https://www.themuse.com/advice/3-things-you-need-to-do-if-youre-unsure-about-the-path-youre-currently-on

ARE YOU IN NEED OF TOP TALENT NOW? Don’t have the time to spend nor available bandwidth to look for your company’s perfect match? Does this leave you with projects undone, unable to launch new initiatives or deliver desired output, let alone to grow your profits? Is your hiring process stalled and limping along with unfilled requisitions? Discover the ease and satisfaction of partnering with experts whose ONLY mission is to accomplish laser-focused search and to acquire top-tier skill on your behalf, each and every day! Contact us at 415-234-0707 ext. 5 or email at connect@superiansources.com Find out what a customized service SAVES you in TIME, MONEY and RESOURCES!

 

ARE YOU TODAY’S TOP TALENT LOOKING FOR A NEW ROLE? Do you want assurance that you are represented by the best and have opportunities open to you within exceptional workplaces? Have you heard that being presented by a boutique search firm is the edge you need to get in the door and have your opportunity to shine? Contact us at 415-234-0707 or email at connect@superiansources.com – http://www.SuperianSources.com

6 Super Common LinkedIn Mistakes That You Can Easily Avoid

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You finally got around to building that All-Star LinkedIn profile. You’ve updated your past jobs, triple-checked for typos, and uploaded a photo that’s a far better choice than the awkward selfie you used to have in its place.

With your profile in good shape, it’s time to start building and strengthening your network with intention. But before you get too excited and start connecting with everyone, make sure you know how to reach out the right way— that means not making these six insanely common mistakes.

1. Not Personalizing the Invite Message

When you click “connect” on someone’s profile, the default message will likely say: “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.” That may be fine if you’re inviting a good friend, but sending that standard line should not be your go-to approach for connecting with a person you don’t already have a history with.

Sending a personalized, polite message that briefly explains your reasons for connecting is a must. Muse columnist Sara McCord suggests you answer three questions: “Who are you? How did you find me? Why do you want to connect?” She also provides a specific template for reaching out to an alum—and staying within the character limit:

Hi Sara,

I see we both went to F&M (Go Dips!). I am a graduating senior interested in editorial and would love to connect with you because you write for some of my favorite websites.

Thanks so much,

Jill Brown

If the other person accepts the invite but doesn’t respond (which is common), you can then follow up with a direct message. Just note that if the majority of your connection requests get rejected, LinkedIn may limit the number of invitations you can send, so make sure you’re targeting people correctly.

2. Inviting People to Connect on Your Phone

The mobile app’s default invitation doesn’t present you with a customized option before sending; fortunately, there’s a simple solution.

In the top right corner of the member’s profile, select the menu icon that has three small squares. Then tap “Personalize Invite,” enter your message, and hit “Send Invitation.”

And while we’re on the topic of connection requests, it’s worth pointing out that invites sent from the “People You May Know” feature in the app can’t be personalized, so if you care about reaching out to those people with a non-generic invite, wait until you’re at your computer.

3. Asking for Too Much From a Stranger

There’s nothing worse than accepting an invite and getting hit with a huge request. So, when someone connects with you, don’t be that person who quickly asks for a job or launches into a sales pitch.

If you’re looking for career advice, request an informational interview. I’ve found that if you reach out to people in a polite, kind, and respectful way, you’ll probably hear back. No one owes you a response, so make sure you don’t come across as entitled.

Try not to think only of what connecting can do for you but also how you can add value to the other person. Regardless of where you’re at in your career, you can find ways to help others.

4. Not Customizing Your Headline

Your headline is one of the first things people see when they receive a request. A good one briefly explains what you currently do and what you want to be doing (if those aren’t the same).

So, instead of defaulting to a job title such as marketing manager, add a bit more, like this:

  • Social Media Expert Seeking Nonprofit Opportunities
  • Experienced Writer Creating Content for Fortune 500 Companies
  • Econ Major and Aspiring Financial Analyst

Use keywords that make it easy for others to find you. You can identify the best options by reviewing job descriptions in your industry.

5. Failing to Follow Up

You know how they say that Rome wasn’t built in a day? Well, the same goes with relationships. Don’t forget to follow up! If someone helped you get an interview or made an introduction, circle back with an update. People love to hear how they’ve been helpful.

The goal when connecting is not to collect as many contacts as possible. Simply sending an update takes little time and thought, but it’s worth the investment. Quality is more important than quantity.

6. Not Using the Alumni Tool

I believe the Alumni tool is the most underutilized feature. You can access it by clicking on the LinkedIn homepage, hovering over “My Network,” then selecting “Find Alumni.”

From there, you can perform a search for individuals who attended your school. You can filter by location, company, job function, major, skills, graduation date, and more.

Once you’ve selected the appropriate filters, you can view profiles and send a message to someone you could imagine having a conversation with. You could ask to set up an informational interview, or even just to connect online, and maybe send some questions over email.

Whether you’re looking for a new job or trying to get better at your current one, syncing up with the right people can help you accomplish your goals. By avoiding these six mistakes, and learning how to effectively reach out, you’ll be well on your way to building meaningful, mutually beneficial relationships that’ll transform your career.

https://www.themuse.com/advice/6-super-common-linkedin-mistakes-that-you-can-easily-avoid

ARE YOU IN NEED OF TOP TALENT NOW? Don’t have the time to spend nor available bandwidth to look for your company’s perfect match? Does this leave you with projects undone, unable to launch new initiatives or deliver desired output, let alone to grow your profits? Is your hiring process stalled and limping along with unfilled requisitions? Discover the ease and satisfaction of partnering with experts whose ONLY mission is to accomplish laser-focused search and to acquire top-tier skill on your behalf, each and every day! Contact us at 415-234-0707 ext. 5 or email at connect@superiansources.com Find out what a customized service SAVES you in TIME, MONEY and RESOURCES!

 

ARE YOU TODAY’S TOP TALENT LOOKING FOR A NEW ROLE? Do you want assurance that you are represented by the best and have opportunities open to you within exceptional workplaces? Have you heard that being presented by a boutique search firm is the edge you need to get in the door and have your opportunity to shine? Contact us at 415-234-0707 or email at connect@superiansources.com – http://www.SuperianSources.com

Real Talk: Are Leaders Born or Made?

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Are leaders born or made? It’s an important question, especially for those who aspire to head up teams or companies, be the face of a movement, or help others achieve greatness.

Some believe that true leaders are born that way—naturally charismatic, influential, and inspiring individuals who are destined to make a mark. But while certain people may be naturally predisposed to leadership, just as they’re naturally predisposed to athleticism or musicality, we believe it’s absolutely possible to cultivate the characteristics and skills necessary to call yourself a leader. As legendary American football coach Vince Lombardi once said: “Leaders aren’t born, they are made. And they are made just like anything else, through hard work.”

So whether you were born with the “special sauce” or not, if you want to be a leader you’re going to have to work to develop and refine the characteristics of the greats. Read on to learn some of the specific traits that are critical for leadership—and how any one of us can work on nurturing them in our careers.

Leadership Trait #1: A Clear, Achievable Vision

Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.

Warren Bennis

True leaders have the capacity to develop a big vision—one that inspires and motivates their team—and turn it into reality. This requires not only a passion for the vision, but the clarity to communicate it and the intelligence and experience necessary to execute it.

How to Work on It

Start by setting a clear vision for yourself. Pick a method that works best for you—whether it’s making a vision board or making lists—and start laying out some of your biggest goals right now. Make sure to be specific; for example, don’t just say you want to move forward in your career, say you want to land a new job at the manager level by the end of Q1. Ultimately, you want each goal you set to have a measurable outcome (like the number of freelance clients you bring in or the amount of money you want to help generate for the business) and a timeframe associated with them.

Once you have your inspiring goal ahead of you, lay out some baby steps or set up some habits to help you actually do it. The more you practice setting and achieving goals for yourself, the more you’ll be able to lead others to do this down the road.

 

Leadership Trait #2: The Ability to Influence and Inspire

I think it’s important to move people beyond just dreaming into doing. They have to be able to see that you are just like them, and you made it.

Sonia Sotomayor

Remember that your work and its success isn’t solely dependent on you; good leaders know how to rally the people around them toward the same overarching goal. If you want your team, your friends, or even random strangers on the internet to follow your lead, you need to get clear on where you want to take them, start down that path yourself, and be willing to hear them and help them along the way.

How to Work on It

Whenever you’re pitching an idea or talking about something you’ve worked on—whether it’s talking to your boss about a new way to approach a process or bringing a big new project to your team—see it as an important opportunity to practice this skill. Take some time to carefully plan out how you’re going to both help people emotionally connect with your idea (a.k.a., getting them excited!) and also convince them that it’s totally feasible with the help of some tactical steps for moving forward. Great ideas can fall to the wayside if they’re not communicated well, so be sure to practice and refine this! Giving your pitch to a friend or mentor before you give it to the powers that be can be a great way to figure out what you’re missing before it really matters.

 

Leadership Trait #3: The Capacity to Adapt

A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others.

Douglas MacArthur

The only constant—in work and in life—is change, and a good leader knows how to navigate that inevitability. Change shouldn’t be viewed as an obstacle, but rather as a chance to be inventive, adaptable, and decisive in the face of uncertainty. It’s also the perfect opportunity to show others that they can rely on you to make big decisions.

How to Work on It

Change can be stressful, so one of the first steps in learning this skill is getting over the feeling of panic that can set in during a shifting situation—or at least getting more comfortable with the feeling. So, look for ways to put yourself in settings where change is happening, like in an organization that’s always innovating or on a brand new project at work. When you find your heart rate rising in the face of change, remind yourself that it’s an opportunity for you or your organization to become better than ever.

Once you feel comfortable, you can take it a step further and be an agent of change. Whether you’re in charge or not, seek out smart ways to shake things up, think outside of the box, or facilitate needed change, so you can practice and showcase your inventiveness and adaptability.

 


 


Leadership Trait #4: A Willingness to Accept Responsibility

If you set out to be liked, you would be prepared to compromise on anything at any time, and you would achieve nothing.

Margaret Thatcher

As the leader of a team, you assume responsibility not just for yourself and your work, but for the work, attitude, and accomplishments of others, too. This is no small feat; you are stepping up to ensure that you will not only show your team where to go and what to do, but also encourage them, answer questions, track progress, and provide motivation. Why? Because their success is your success—and their failure is yours, too.

How to Work on It

As long as you work with at least one other person, you can start working on this skill today! Every team project, client campaign, or even daily staff meeting is an opportunity for you to work with your colleagues as a group, offering support, answering questions, and asking how you can help.

And when things don’t go so smoothly? Don’t try to shove it under the rug—face your mistakes head on. Own up to what happened and apologize for it, come to the table with solutions for fixing the problem, and figure out what you can learn moving forward to keep it from happening again. As communication expert Amanda Berlin shares, “A lesser person might run and hide. By showing up, acknowledging your misstep, and offering solutions, you begin to show your character.” Your character as a true leader.

 

Leadership Trait #5: A Desire to Learn and Grow

Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.

John F. Kennedy

A constant desire to learn and grow is an important personal and professional characteristic, whether you want to be a leader or not. Leaders are curious, open-minded, and invested in their growth—the very best of them are always working to be better!

How to Work on It

In your daily life, seek out opportunities to learn more about how to be a leader. (Hey, just by reading this article, you’re off to a great start!) Is there an upcoming client campaign or team-building activity that you can offer to take the charge on? An organization you can work for that has programs to help employees grow? Are there leaders you admire who you can reach out to for coffee—maybe even finding your next mentor along the way? Any leadership books or podcasts you can consume in your free time?

There are so many opportunities for learning—you just have to have the motivation to pursue them.

 

Michael Jordan once said true leaders must “earn your leadership every day.” Doing this is a lifetime pursuit, and as with all personal and professional development, there will always be new skills to learn, new ways to strengthen your character, and new opportunities to put your leadership into practice.

Here’s to becoming more of a leader every day—whether you consider yourself to be “born with it” or not.

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