A New Leader? Learn To Focus On Your Strengths

The world is ever-evolving and so are women; in life and the workplace. I’ve become fascinated with how far women have come and watching this evolution not only take place before my eyes for other women, but my own transformation. With the world evolving, and more women being empowered, there is a lot to consider for the future of women’s leadership. Women are advancing their education, creating companies and organizations as well as becoming leaders in various industries, many of which were thought of as male professions.

Being an entrepreneur has been my most elaborate lesson in leadership. I’m not just leading myself, I’m leading my company and the future of the company. I have to lead, then follow, then adapt, then alter, then resolve conflict and it’s all up to me. Sometimes I don’t know what the right or wrong answer is and I rely on my strengths, knowledge, experience and intuition to lead myself in the “right” direction.

Lead your own life

One of my inspirational shirts says, “Be in Control of Your Reins.” This means being in control of your life and taking steps to internally lead. The first way to focus and build on your strengths in leadership is to believe that you are capable of leading in every area of life. This sounds simple however, I have found myself having to lead my own mind back to a place of self-focus, confidence and belief. Hyper-focus in on uplifting and believing in yourself. It takes practice.

Once you are in that mindset, focus inward and ask yourself these questions: What is leadership? What does good leadership look like to you? What is your leadership style? Why would you be a great leader? How do you envision yourself leading? Do you envision yourself leading in your current role? Would you like to advance to another position? What have your past leadership experiences looked-liked?

This starts with our own mindset and evolves into a strategy and then action. The initial  step is to acknowledge and be aware and mindful of where your talents and strengths lie. What leadership attributes do you possess?

Define your professional goals

Are you looking to advance to another position, role, management or are you looking to enhance your skills in your current position? Acknowledge what you are trying to achieve; write down and create a vision board. If the ultimate goal is the “tip of the iceberg” —what people only see once you get to the top —create a “tip of the iceberg” vision and then the steps it will take to achieve this. Many times, we only see the “tip” of people’s success and not what it took to achieve their leadership. For you to get there, it’s important to define that for yourself and understand the personal strengths you have that will help you at each stage of the journey. What will it take to get to the tip (ultimate goal)? By being clearer about your goals you can better align them with your strengths.  

Identify what and who you are leading

Are you an entrepreneur, are you leading a team, or are you simply trying to lead your life in a more productive way? What is your strategy to lead yourself and/or employees, increase productivity or meet your company goals? Create your own strategic plan for a month, six months or an annual plan. This can be a part of your vision board or a separate, more detailed plan. Are you working to lead yourself to a healthier place?  That also requires a strategic plan and one that works with your professional goals.

Attend leadership events and classes

Are there outside seminars or internal seminars offered by your company or in your community to help develop and enhance your skills, such as communications, conflict resolution, social media/marketing skills and leadership skills?  Take steps to improve less developed leadership skills that align with your strengths.

The Don’t List for Female Leadership

  • Don’t tell yourself, you can’t
  • Don’t let others tell you, YOU can’t
  • Don’t tell yourself you’re not worth your value. Whatever you think in your head your value, amplify that amount as women have a tendency of undervaluing themselves
  • Don’t consistently apologize or use filler words such as, “I’m just following-up…” Speak confidently and authoritatively and say “I’m following-up…”
  • Don’t focus on the things you haven’t achieved, focus on what you have achieved and let failures subside
  • RETRAIN YOUR BRAIN to remove these habits

Learn to gain confidence from rejection

Rejection is redirection and rejuvenation. Throughout life and our careers, we experience rejection. One of the hardest experiences is experiencing a “no,” when trying to achieve and advance. I began to look at this as “redirection” to other opportunities. It is OK to feel disappointed, however at some point you need to focus on what is next. I also call rejection, “rejuvenation,” because in all the times I’ve felt rejected, I’ve grown from those experiences and became emotionally stronger. I used to say I had thick skin and now I say I have a “suit of armor.”

Be aware of your leadership style.  Lead by reflection, not by perfection.

Lead others by your example. Being in a management position has allowed me to create a leadership style that I value. I always set out to “practice what I preach” as a leader, and teach the next generation to be leaders as well. I lead as I would want someone to lead me. I know that I’m setting a precedent for others, so it’s important to me to establish an effective and positive leadership style.  

Gain strength from others

Being around a camaraderie of like-minded positive women will boost your leadership confidence and energy. You need people in your life that you know have your back. I have always valued being mentored or receiving simple pieces of advice by others, who may have ideas for focusing your strengths on your leadership. You never know what take-away you may receive by just listening to someone’s story or experience. If you don’t have enough positive women in your life, actively search out like-minded female leaders and mentors.

As a re-cap, strength and leadership begins with the inner journey. Our of that process, we can then decide how and where we want to lead in our lives and what kind of impact we’d like to have on ourselves, others and the world.

This blog post was written by Melissa Clark, founder of The She Shift

Melissa Clark is a GW4W member and her company, The She Shift, is a GW4W Member Partner.   The She Shift provides discounted consulting services to our GW4W members for content marketing, book writing and self-publishing, women’s leadership and work/life balance.

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