Leader Volume 8, Number 10
Your Leadership Skills and Image
Marken is President of Marken Communications, Inc. in Santa Clara,
California (phone 408-986-0100; email email@example.com).
Youíve been in
the field now for seven years.
Youíve just hit your stride with a good title on your
business card, a roster of subordinates and a healthy paycheck.
You know it. Problem is, that doesnít make you a leader.
Thatís going to take some more planning and work on your
important to be considered a leader in your organization.
Thatís what keeps you employed.
Itís also valuable to be considered a leader in your
these days of consolidation, downsizing, mergers and acquisitions,
you need to be viewed as a person whose leadership qualities
transcend your present firm and give you value in the marketplace.
climate of economic uncertainty you can only be certain of
The only people
the CEO wants on his or her team are people who are focused on
being leaders. The
same is true of executive recruiters and prospective employers.
As a result, itís important to focus on improving in key
areas: vision, listening skills, education, personal public
relations, professional involvement and appearance.
The true leader
possesses vision--the ability to see beyond the short-term gain
when choosing a solution. He
or she can see with reasonable certainty how something thatís
done today will impact success tomorrow.
They donít look for the easy answers, but those that will
reap long- term results for the organization even if they move the
firm in a totally new and more profitable direction.
a leader is able to communicate this vision to subordinates, and
empower staff members to work as a cohesive team.
He or she has that unique ability to inspire the team, take
a project to greater heights and make staff feel they have
ownership in the success of their firm.
A leader knows
that it is as important to listen to subordinates, as it is to
talk to them. An
executive who listens to employeesí concerns, and takes them to
heart, can keep expectations and planning at realistic levels.
For example, some
of the people on your staff are young and ambitious.
They enjoy, even thrive on, the late nights and weekends
spent pitching in to complete a project.
At the same time you have employees who have family
it's voiced or not, they resent these schedules.
They prefer long lead times where they can carry out the
work within the framework of their total lives.
individualsí needs because it will help improve employee
retention, lower resentment levels and build loyalty to the
company and to the executive. Building longevity with your team makes it easier for the
company, the projects and you to succeed.
important to remain accessible to your staff, a seasoned leader
doesnít become one of the gang.
He or she doesnít participate in excessive gossip or
effective leaders keep their knowledge up-to-date to ensure they
stay ahead of the competition.
The leader also expects and encourages, staff members to do
the same. To make
certain it happens, the leader hosts in-house workshops or seeks
local educational venues. Leaders
are voracious readers and clippers, print and on-line. They read business, trade and related field publications.
They constantly clip and file articles that will
immediately help them or may possibly assist them in the future.
steps and youíll grow to become a leader your CEO wants on the
team. Youíll also
be the leader all of the best people want to work for and with.
important to enhance your image and reputation outside your
organization. That means carrying out your own personal public relations
as a solid and reliable resource for local, regional and national
means knowing your company, your competition, related
organizations, industry facts/figures and industry resources.
It also means knowing how the industryís product cycles
work, from concept to customer support, as well as how related and
potentially related companies, technologies and products can
impact your industry and your firm.
personal public relations program should include the ability to
extend yourself even when thereís no short-term benefit to your
company or you. Members of the media have huge databases of company contacts
but relatively short lists of people they regularly contact.
Be on that short list.
If they contact
you for information and assistance, and it can benefit your firm,
follow through immediately. Obviously
you need to be certain you have your facts straight before you
speak to the press.
important that you participate in professional and industry
associations and societies. You
should aggressively network in these organizations.
Select your personal and professional activities carefully.
Choose those that youíre not only interested in, but
those that will benefit you in the long term.
Invest your time
wisely to become a leader in the organization(s). Volunteer to be
a guest speaker at meetings and conferences.
If youíre not a good speaker take a public speaking
course to improve your performance.
Make certain the presentation is one that reflects an
opinion and industry leadership.
As we move into
the 21st century, and video conferencing is becoming an
increasingly common form of one-on-one and one-to-many meetings,
the written word is still extremely powerful.
Write great reports. Write
great presentations. Write
great e-mails. Constantly
work to develop, refine and perfect all of your communications
recruiters say job-hopping doesnít hurt your chances for the
next growth/leadership opportunity, firms still want people who
show some stability--which means keeping a job for at least a few
years. A resume that
is filled with job changes every year puts you at a disadvantage.
Now we come to
the final, but equally critical, area in developing and
maintaining your image as a professional leader.
Granted, it should be enough that you are a visionary, have
state-of-the-art/state-of-the-industry expertise and keep your
staff at peak performance and loyal and are sought out by and
quoted in the press.
But unless youíre one of the very few, very rare true
geniuses of the century, you also have to look the part.
Itís still true that we never get a second chance to make
a good first impression. Like
it or not, grooming and attire do quite a bit in shaping that
every organization has relaxed or eliminated its dress code, and
dressing down is commonly accepted, no one ever gets laughed at
for dressing up. Fortunately
(for men) starched white shirts, black pinstripe suits and rep
ties have given way to a wider array of professional attire.
Women also have greater dress freedom including slacks.
Itís okay to blend in with your staff; but casual
doesnít mean sloppy. Being
neat has never gone out of style.
leadership skill road map using these guidelines and you will earn
the reputation you want and deserve as a true leader.
Thatís the person your boss wants on his or her team.
Itís the person your firmís competitors want on their
team. Itís the
person the executive recruiter aggressively seeks and woos for the
next big opportunity/challenge youíre going to want to consider.