The Leader In You Drives Your Professional Success

No matter your role at work, your leadership skills impact your reputation

Whoever said great leaders are born and never made must’ve had Lumbergh from Office Space as their boss.

Whether you’re a fresh college grad, a junior analyst or already a manager, your leadership savvy is critical to effectively managing your professional reputation. While traits such as your brains, urgency and logic help define your career success, strong leadership skills will not only help you succeed as a professional — they’ll help you become a leader more quickly.

From overseeing a project to advancing your career, you can manage your workplace reputation and get ahead with these three essential leadership traits.

Exhibit Self-awareness and Know How You Act Around Others

Remember the adage, monkey see, monkey do? Well, there’s leadership truth in this sentiment.

Inevitably, people look to their superiors and peers to determine appropriate workplace behavior. And they’ll mimic the leadership skills they see exhibited as a model for their own professional behavior. So, if someone yells at others when they’re stressed out or consistently lacks urgency on deadlines, employees and peers will often follow suit.

When you’re self aware, you recognize how your behaviors affect those around you, including any projects you’re working on and team collaborations. You know your strengths, and just as importantly, you acknowledge your weaknesses, too. And you’re not afraid to own up to them and admit when you’ve made a mistake. Effective leaders are fully aware of the world around them — and their place within this space.

By leading with purpose and self-reflection, you’ll collaborate more effectively, brainstorm more efficiently — and be an employee people genuinely want to work with (and promote!).

Further BULLIT Read: Self-awareness and the Effective Leader, Inc. Magazine

Pursue Excellence in Everything You Do

We’ve all worked with that person who got by in the office by being just good enough. They do the minimum of what the job requires of them and rarely push themselves or the quality of their work to exceed expectations. Often, reports are sloppy but passable, meaningful contributions to brainstorms are minimal and so on. While these professionals may do enough to stay employed, not striving for excellence often keeps them stuck at the same level of their career — throughout their career.

Leaders, however, are never satisfied with “good enough.” They have lofty visions, push for excellence on projects and don’t think of settling for sub par. When you care about upholding high standards of quality, you bring those standards to everything you do. Plus, since you’re also self-aware and recognize your weaknesses, you push yourself to continually improve. From here, you’ve engrained a strong work ethic where quality isn’t sacrificed and doing your best is always a welcomed challenge.

Further, standards of excellence can positively affect those around you, encouraging everyone to bring their “A” game to a project or team — just remember to be a team player who keeps their ego in check. The ability to work together with excellence is just as importance as excellence itself.

Further BULLIT Read: How to Get Better at Anything, Business Insider

Put Others First Before Yourself

An oft-overlooked leadership trait is the ability to put others before yourself. While this approach may seem passive — leaders focus on themselves first in order to lead others successfully, right? — your ability to think about others’ needs and concerns can transform your professional credibility and your career.

In almost any workplace, teamwork and camaraderie can make or break success. If everyone is just working from a “me first” mentality, then they fail to address the big picture of the joint efforts needed to lead a project (or team or company) to success. Professionals who value others and are able to recognize everyone’s contributions don’t get caught in hierarchical processes or ego-driven perspectives. They see what’s best for the collective, enable everyone’s voice to be heard and don’t worry about not being the center of attention.

Great leaders encourage other people to be their best; by doing so, leaders also become the best within themselves. Or, in the words of Bill Gates, “As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.”

Further BULLIT Read: Outstanding Leaders Put People First, Management-issues

In all, leadership is both art and science. We all have different personalities — and we bring these characteristics to our workplace roles and responsibilities. What works for one, may not work for others, and what works in one environment, may not work in another.

To keep your career on target and make the most of your professional reputation, start observing different leadership styles and find what inspires you. From there, remember to be genuine to yourself, keep your people in the forefront of your interests, and give it everything you’ve got.

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