How To Become A Leader

To coincide with the launch of our new series, The Board (which had its first seating on Saturday), we asked Leadership Coach and Talent Development Manager, Liesl Keen, for her insights on smashing your career goals.

For a variety of reasons many people don’t make their careers a priority. Sure you might have an idea of where you’d like to go but when was the last time that you actively sat down and planned it. Or did something extra to achieve it. If you’ve your eyes on a career path it’s time to take charge and dive in. It’s never too late to start.

When it comes to setting goals what they are is important, but Liesl says that many people ignore another important element. “Drilling down to the real reasons why you are choosing certain goals, support and sustain your efforts to accomplish them.  You should have a healthy emotional attachment to the WHY of your goals and this will make all the difference in how you tackle action planning and staying the course. Keeping yourself accountable is a very strong motivator to achieve your intentions.” Since we’re taking 2019 to be a year of growth and success we wanted to find out more.

So, Liesl,  what is the one skill everyone should be sharpening in 2019? 

Learn to learn.
“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn” – Alvin Toffler

Change is and will continue to be part of our lives and very much so in the working world.  What got you to the position and role you occupy now, whether in a corporate organisation or as an entrepreneur, will not be sufficient for the future.  

It is critical that we place our self-development in work and in life as a priority! If we do not give learning the attention it needs in our lives, we will become stagnant and fall behind. We need to have clearly defined personal goals and understand the competencies we should develop to become skilled for the future.  

If you work in an organisation, discuss your aspirations with your manager and ensure that a development plan is created to support you.  It’s important to do the same in your personal life.

Never stop learning!

An open dialogue is key, but that can be difficult sometimes. What’s your advice to those who struggle to feel heard? 

If we find ourselves feeling unheard when communicating as leaders or aspiring leaders, it often relates back to how we see ourselves in these situations.  Leadership presence is an important quality and skill to work on and it affects how others view us and ultimately the results we will get.

Confidence when speaking has a lot to do with how we feel on the inside, which then projects a willingness for others to pay attention to what we are saying.

Some areas of focus may include:

  1. Ensure credibility by being prepared and knowledgeable in your field.  
  2. Be consistent in your view points, which also adds to credibility.
  3. Ensure that you project confidence in tone of voice, body language and your dress.
  4. Become more self-aware.  This an important life skill and will help you in most situations at work.  You can regulate your own emotions far better when you are aware of what is happening internally and in the meeting room.
  5. Listen attentively to others.  This is called active listening where you are fully engaged so that the other person can see this. They will be more inclined to listen in return.
  6. Set your own boundaries.  If you want to be heard it is important that others know where they stand with you.  People only treat us the way we allow them to and this very relevant in the work context.
  7. It’s important to ask for feedback.  This is how we learn and get insight into the competencies we should build on.

I really like the idea of becoming more self aware and setting boundaries, so often that’s only thought of with regard to personal relationships not professional. But if you’re new to all this how do you stay focused?

The simplest but also most complex answer is to know and understand your WHY for the goals you have set.  

Why is this your goal? Why have you chosen to make this a goal for you and why do you desire this in your life?  These are the fundamentals I work with my clients on when embarking on goal coaching.

The reasons for your goals should excite you, they should enthuse you and propel you forward to take massive action in your life. If the why doesn’t do this for you, it’s possible that you are focusing on the wrong goal.

Goal setting is an art and more complicated than just deciding I want to lose weight or get a promotion or start a business.   In order to remain motivated, your goal should align with your values and be supported by your beliefs that work for you and not against you.  Limiting beliefs have a tremendous impact on our success in life and we don’t even realise we have them.

Measure your achievements incrementally.  You cannot lose all the weight you want to lose in a week, you can however make significant progress and create healthy habits as well that will lead to remaining motivated.

Breakdown your goals into short term actions and celebrate achieving those milestones!

 No matter the industry, networking and interpersonal skills are vital. What would be your one tip for those looking to make the most of relationships in 2019? 

It’s all about the value that you can bring to those in your network.  Your unique selling point is only valuable to your network if they really need it and you will only know this once you established a real relationship with them.

All too often networking and building relationships becomes a forced sell and that is really not benefiting the long-term game of networking.  Be in the relationship for the future benefits it may have and what you can bring to the table. This builds your credibility and shows that you are not in it for the short-term hard sell, but a sustainable mutually beneficial relationship where knowledge exchange takes place.

So there you have it, expert advice on how to make sure that you’re goals are working for you – and are also what you *actually* want. If you’re looking for some accountability making and setting goals in a group can be hugely beneficial, and if you’re looking for some inspiration keep your eye here for future events.

A huge thank you to Liesl for sharing her insights with us, and if you’re looking for leadership training be sure to visit her website.

1 thought on “How To Become A Leader”

  1. Oh. wow. Well, I think I will do (i will try to do, yeah) all your suggestions. I think it can help me to be more confident at least. Thank you for writing this article. Good luck with your blog!

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