Whether you are already the boss, or hope to be some day, demonstrating leadership qualities is always an advantageous way to stand out and get ahead in the young professional world. Subsequently, it seems that today there are unlimited ways, means, tools, and tricks being peddled via workshops, webinars, coaches, and books, as the “it” way to become a successful leader. In order to weed through all the hype and unearth the very best methods, we’ve stepped back from the saturated market of silver-bullet leadership strategies and returned to simpler times. Some current pros may deem these techniques as cliché or old school, but we see them simply as classic:
Lead by example
We’ve all heard this one a million times, and likely all agree that leading by example is a great strategy, in theory. In practice, however, due to the way in which so many modern workplaces are structured, leaders are not often in a position to engage in work alongside their staff, nor are they often even within view. With big offices and closed doors, emailed memos and conference calls, our leaders have become separated from the rest of us, causing weak relationships and sometimes a lack of respect. People don’t just want to be told what to do by someone not doing it themselves; we want to be shown, guided, led. If you are the boss, or are working to become one, try resisting the common MO of commanding from above, and get down with your workforce. Respect is earned when hands get dirty and when leadership comes from doing, not demanding.
Even dog trainers have clearly figured out the incredible powers of this leadership strategy, and yet in the working world, positive reinforcement seems to have taken a back seat to more new age psychological tactics, or to old-fashioned methods of disciplining mistakes. We young professionals are not such complicated beings. We want to do a good job and we want to be recognized and rewarded for it. When we are rewarded for a certain behaviour, a positive chemical reaction occurs in the brain that reinforces that behaviour. This simple neurological reward system has been known for a long time and has been proven effective over and over again. The alternate method of exclusively critiquing and disciplining when things are done wrong may help correct errors, but is unlikely to foster progress or a grow quality working relationship. As the boss or leader-in-training, or even just as a team member, try taking full advantage of this classic, proven method and see how your team successfully progresses.
Practice what you preach
This final point may seem repetitive of our first, to lead by example, but we believe in this classic leadership quality on more than a professional level. To practice what you preach is a holistic, personal quality of leadership. It means to be a person of your word, to be accountable and reliable, dedicated and committed, responsible and steadfast, in all areas of life. As a leader, you want to not only motivate your workers or team on the job, but to also inspire them in a variety of areas of their own lives. Being a person, not only a boss, that others look up to, believe in, and ultimately respect, is a classic description of a true leader – one that will never go out of style.