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How to Start Demonstrating Your Leadership Potential

Once you’ve been in a few mid-level roles, you may start feeling like you need more of a challenge. You might feel like you have the right skills, the mindset and the personal ambition to take a step up into a leadership role and be hungry to expand your career horizons.


But how do you demonstrate that effectively if you’ve had no previous leadership or management experience?


While experience is definitely something employers look for in someone taking a step up into a leadership role, it’s not just about your experience. What’s equally important is that you’re able to demonstrate that you have the skills, capabilities and understanding that leaders need to be successful.


There are many different factors that come into this, and it’s not just about your practical demonstration of skills like time management, achieving goals or rallying the team. It’s also about a very set mindset and the key factors that employers look for in the mindset of a potential leader in their company.


Internationally renowned psychologist, Carol Dweck details this further in her bestselling book: ‘Mindset: the psychology of success’. In it, she describes how talent and abilities can be built through positive actions and processes of learning and improvement – a ‘growth mindset’. Which is crucial in a successful leader.


Knowing some of the key ways to development and demonstrate this in the workplace will help to set you apart as someone with leadership potential. Here are 5 ways to help you do that:

 1. Aligned vision to the company goals


This means you’re able to demonstrate a sound understanding of what the company is trying to achieve overall. It also means having an understanding of how your role and work as a leader within the company impacts this and helps them to achieve it.


More than that, strong leaders are able to apply new ideas and out-of-the-box thinking to strategies to help the company move forward.

 2. Action = Accountability


Companies want leaders who are able to act confidently and proactively, especially when facing uncertainty or trying to achieve tough goals.


Action always comes with a slice of accountability though. It’s great when your actions and ideas work for the best, but when they don’t, companies also want leaders who can reflect positively on what went wrong, why and their role within that.

 3. Inspiring Impact


We’ve already talked about having an impact on the company goals, but it’s also about inspiring other people within the company to have an impact too.


As a leader, you will be responsible for making sure a team of people are also aligned with the company goals, and inspiring them to make an impact. Strong leaders lead by example and allow their team space to evolve, progress and develop new ideas too.

 4. Team Connections


A strong leader brings a team together and they do this by being able to identify the key strengths and weaknesses that may be present within their team.


Playing to individuals strengths, allows them to shine, and knowing how to support your team with any weaknesses, helps them feel like they are part of something that is beneficial for them.

 5. Ambition


It’s one thing to become a leader and make sure the job gets done, but a great leader has ambition – and not just for their own benefit.


A strong leader has ambition for their team and for the company overall, and they demonstrate this in everything they do. Whether it’s by bringing in new ideas, challenging the status quo positively, or instigating proactive measures to move the company forward, a strong leader has ambition to make things better.


How can you start to demonstrate you have some of these qualities?


They key thing here for anyone seeking to make the leap from an individual contributor to a leadership role, is motivation – all of the above qualities tap into this and it’s not an easy thing to create.


Think about when you’ve faced a struggle or challenge, whether at work or in education. How difficult was it to motivate yourself to keep going and overcome that challenge? Now think about being a leader with a team of 12 people whom you have to motivate to overcome a big challenge.


Not so easy right?


It’s the ability to motivate others, to inspire them and connect them to achieve shared goals and deliver their best work that separates a leader from an individual contributor.


To demonstrate your own potential as a leader, you need to be able to communicate how you meet each of the above. What is unique about you, that means you could take on the challenge?


Thinking about your company’s goals and your impact, you need to be able to articulate very well what they do, what they get right, where they could be better, and what you as an individual could do to impact on all of that. You need to be able to demonstrate strategic and purposeful thinking, that also introduces new ideas.


Find examples from projects you’ve worked on and helped to deliver – what could have been done better and why? How do you think the differences would have impacted the outcome of the project? How did you communicate this at the time and how was it received by the team? What did you do about that?


Keeping up to date on everything that’s happening in the company is also key – it demonstrates your ambition and initiative to think beyond your current role. It’s also important to have a clear view on what’s happening across your industry as a whole. What are your competitors doing? Is it working? What can you do to implement similar strategies that would work for your team and your company?


Remember, everything you communicate at this level needs to be positive, proactive and get across that you’re invested in the company.


Taking on a leadership role is no easy feat, and it definitely isn’t for everyone. There are lots of examples of people thinking they wanted to be a leader and taking the step up, only to step back down shortly after.


But if you think you’ve got what it takes, and the above mindset and skillset appeals to you, it can be one of the most rewarding and exciting moves for your career journey. Start making a decision now and building your own mindset as a leader, ready for when you want to make that step up.

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