It’s easy to notice the obvious characteristics separating great leaders from average ones. Great leaders tend to be good public speakers. They tend to be engaging and interesting. They tend to be driven, curious, and persistent.
But the little things that differentiate great leaders from the rest of us? Those aren’t so suddenly obvious. Forbes contributor Travis Bradberry teamed up with the Harvard Business Review to examine small things great leaders do differently. In particular, they studied what women entrepreneurs can do to position themselves as exceptional leaders and leverage their experiences.
These leadership habits are subtle, but powerful and you’ll want to incorporate them immediately. Yes, great leaders are born, but they’re also made. With these simple but powerful tools, authority and respect are within everyone’s grasp.
- Use the Word “We”
Replacing “I” and “me” with “we” and “us” in the workplace vocabulary has a huge impact on how likely (and willing) people are to follow. Consider the difference in these two statements:
“I’ll definitely have time to resolve the issue by the next meeting with the client” -OR- “We’ll definitely have time to resolve the issue by the next meeting with the client.” The first implies a one-person show; the second assumes that everyone will work together to fix the problem. Since great leaders share both the workload and the glory, make sure that when you give credit, you use “we” and “us.”
- Remember Small Details
Great leaders are typically very charismatic. One of the simplest ways to become more charming, without being disingenuous, is to remember and recognize the little things about your colleagues. These include birthdays, work anniversaries, favorite sports teams, accomplishments, vacation plans, hobbies, and so on. For a practical way to implement this strategy, set aside 10 minutes every morning for browsing social media sites. Note what they’ve posted or got coming up. Then, when you see them at work, you’ll have no problem saying, “Hey! You looked like you were having fun at the baseball game Friday night.”
- Be Present
Another thing great leaders do differently? When they’re with someone, they’re with them. You usually won’t find a natural leader acting distracted or bored while they’re with their team, on the contrary, they seem interested and focused no matter whom they’re with. When people receive your full attention, not only do they feel flattered (unfortunately, that’s how rare paying attention has become) but they also give you more. That means more information, more help, more support – many of the things you need to take your performance to the next level.
- Calm in a Crisis
During emergencies, have you ever noticed to whom control of the situation goes by default? Hint: it’s the person who stays calm. Even if you’re freaking out on the inside, projecting an unruffled exterior will make others perceive you as competent and trustworthy. That means your coworkers will automatically look to you for a solution. So the next time something stressful happens at work, resist the urge to react. If you’re worried that you’ll lose your cool, step into an empty conference room or the bathroom for a couple seconds to clear your head.
- Paying Attention to the LIPs (Least Important People)
There are a couple reasons why true leaders go out of their way to acknowledge the ‘least important’ people in the room (whether that’s the junior assistant, two-week-old employee, or intern). Treating people well when they’re just starting out guarantees you’ll be repaid later down the line. You’ll cultivate great relationships with the employees who work hard and have plenty of talent, but often don’t see their efforts recognized. Also, your awareness of what’s going on in the office -at all levels- will increase. Every time you’re in a room of people, figure out who the LIP is: ask for feedback and treat their contributions seriously.
- Adapt to the Situation
Most people opt to just have one communication style, but valuable leaders have many, and they’re capable to quickly find the ideal one for the person and scenario. If they notice one coworker always takes forever to respond to emails, they’ll stop sending emails and start dropping by their desk instead. Or if another coworker never voices her concerns until after meetings, they’ll start requesting feedback beforehand. To become a better leader, start actively looking for methods of communication to which each colleague best responds. By adapting, you’ll become one of the rare professionals who can have effective relationships with everyone, not just a few people.
Photo Credit: Dmitry Ermakov via www.unsplash.com, https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/