Having had the honour of being asked to be involved with judging for the Women in the City Future Leader’s award last year, it was very apparent that the candidates that went through to the finals all possessed 5 main attributes. Whether you’re a man or a woman, if you want to become a future leader within your company and industry this is a must read.
1. Contribution beyond your function to the wider business
Remember that knowledge is power: understand the industry you work in and keep up to date with it. Making yourself the go to person for information instantly gives you an edge that your peers will not have; helping you gain an insight into how each department can be better run. This expertise will aid you in proactively identifying the company’s biggest problems, which you can then contribute to solving.
Is it an issue with hiring, marketing or operational cost? Show that you want to help and prove that the understanding you’ve gained of the environment as a whole, can assist. Remember that going above and beyond your job description should be a daily, if not weekly occurrence. You need to live and breathe the values of your organisation, demonstrating how your actions have clearly had a positive impact on essential projects and how you are committed to aiding the growth of the company.
2. Dedicated commitment to both personal and professional development
Don’t be afraid to ask for more challenging work and never be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. This is a fantastic way to show the right person that you can do way more than you were hired to do. Focus on inspiring others within your team and helping develop their strengths, this will help you have an awareness of your organisation’s cultural environment and how best to operate and lead within them. Find a mentor. Show that you are open to constructive criticism and use this to develop yourself both in a personal and professional capacity. This goes hand-in-hand with being proud of what you have achieved. Learn to take a compliment for your hard work and simultaneously, learn to use that hard work as an example of what you can offer. Seek opportunities to support others that are less fortunate, volunteering in charity work is a great way to do this. No-one is a finished product and there is always more you can do to develop as a person, both professionally and personally.
Highlight your strengths and focus on them. Put them into practice in every single way possible. Are you able to acknowledge any weaknesses you may have? Can you give clear examples of how you have tackled them and why it helped you achieve something you are now proud of? It is completely okay, in fact it is completely natural and human to get things wrong, as long as you own up immediately with integrity, and offer solutions. When you do not admit to making a mistake, or even when you pass the blame, you’ll be seen as someone who doesn’t take responsibility for their actions.
4. Strong and obvious leadership potential
Become a mentor for others. Take initiative and help develop others. Make a name for yourself within the senior leadership team. Showing the right people that you have strong leadership potential will only ever be a positive thing. Leadership comes in many variations from management of team members to accountability. Be prepared to demonstrate how you or your mentee have made a change within your organisation and what positive impact it has had on the top/bottom line or as a tangible difference for customers.
5. The ability to communicate and network at all levels
Great networking and communication abilities are one of the key characteristics of leaders. You must be able to clearly demonstrate how you have used your network for the benefit of yourself and/or others by building, nurturing and leveraging said skills. Using networks outside of your day-to-day role, for both personal and professional requirements, shows that you can build and maintain new relationships, which is key to business development in all areas. Being able to clearly articulate yourself and your strategic ideas to others will aid you in your path to leadership. Have a well-defined vision of what you want to get out of a networking relationship and build it.
The business world is evolving at a rapid rate, so to become a leader, you must demonstrate your potential during the infancy of your career.