Leaders have big ideas, are constantly learning, and they give: they love sharing their lessons and experiences to help other people grow and thrive.
Question for Leaders
Have you ever thought about the steps you can take to improve your knowledge and expertise within your company, within your industry, or within your community?
If yes, you’ve already taken the first step to becoming a better leader.
Becoming a better leader is a hot topic for good reason, and it starts with intention. Before you can show up as a better leader for other people, you have to be committed to investing in your own growth and knowledge.
As you know, the online business space is pretty crowded these days, and one of the major ways you can stand out from the rest of the businesses and other people in your industry is to be viewed as a leader.
What being a leader means
According to Google a “leader” is a person who leads or commands a group, organization or country.
I’ll take that, and add a bit to it:
I believe a leader is someone who has a certain amount of expertise in whatever industry or niche they are in, and that they actively share their insights with those around them through writing, speaking, providing value, and taking action.
A leader is also:
- Good at not only sharing their lessons learned, expertise, and insights, but also at teaching other people how to apply that knowledge so they don’t make the same mistakes.
- Trusted, holds authority, and is viewed as a credible source by the people who follow them.
- Someone who delivers consistent value with integrity and passion, takes responsibility for their actions, and is always willing to go the extra mile for the people they serve.
Sounds like a pretty good gig, right?
But how exactly do you go about becoming a better leader?
Great leaders understand it takes time, patience, hard work, and a lot of dedication.
Here are 7 steps you can take TODAY to start improving your leadership skills right now.
7 Steps to Becoming a Better Leader
1. Follow leaders who you look up to
There’s no better way to learn how to do something than to find other people who you admire and who do that thing really well.
There’s an endless number of amazing leaders out there, but it comes down to what type of leader you want to be. So while I could share a list of leaders I might follow, your list is likely going to look different.
Take Action: Pick out 2, 3 or even 4 leaders who you admire – either for their speaking abilities, their expertise in a particular industry or niche, their ability to teach other people who can learn from their mistakes – and read their articles, follow their speaking engagements, and check out their presence on social media and within online communities.
As you start to follow these leaders, notice how they present themselves, how they teach, and how they communicate.
You’ll soon find that great leaders have an effective way of getting out there and being seen and heard, and that’s good news for you because it means you can learn from them.
2. Practice the things that make you uncomfortable
If you know you want to become a better leader, then you probably already know many of the things required of you.
But there’s a reason you haven’t taken action on those things: you’re scared, lack the confidence required, or are simply dealing with the imposter syndrome.
I’ve been there, and I know it’s not easy to get out of your comfort zone. I also know that practicing – taking one step at a time – will get you to where you want to go.
So what do you practice, exactly?
Well, that ultimately depends on what type of leadership style you’re going for – what type of leader do you want to be?
You can start by:
- Practicing becoming a better speaker,
- Building stronger relationships,
- Consistently pushing yourself out of your comfort zone
Take Action: Start practicing the things that make you uncomfortable with other people – maybe a mentor or friend. Before you know it, you’ll not only become better at doing these things, but you might actually grow to like them!
Anything that makes you uncomfortable WILL make you stronger and more confident after you’ve achieved it, and building confidence is necessary to become a great leader.
3. Tell yourself every day that you are a leader (and believe it!)
It’s easy to tell yourself all the things you’re not: you’re not good enough at this, or strong enough at that…
It actually becomes comforting to know the things you’re not because it means you can’t fail at those things. If you already know you can’t do it, then it won’t be a surprise when you don’t.
Listen up: if you want to join other great leaders, then you have to believe that YOU ARE a leader AND start acting like one.
Take Action: Look at yourself in the mirror every morning, and tell yourself out loud that you are a leader.
Follow that up with ONE thing you’ll do today to start acting like one.
A tool I love using daily to help remind myself that I am worthy of true success, and that I have it in me to be a great leader, is the “self-worth affirmation cards” from Abundant Affirmations.
4. Learn something new about your expertise, industry or niche every day
I don’t care what expertise you have, or what industry or niche you’re in; in the online world, things are changing by the minute.
In order to maintain your leadership level and your expertise – your ability to teach people things that will keep them from making the same mistakes you have and that will help them get to where they want to go – you have to stay on top of the changes that are happening around you.
Take Action: Do keyword searches for words and phrases that are trending in your sphere of interest.
Then, find relevant articles, writers or publications who keep up with the latest and greatest and add them to Feedly, (or whatever platform you use to track your favorite feeds).
Once you’ve built a library of great resources to help you consistently learn from other people, you’ll have a single place you can go for updates relevant to your industry or niche. The more you learn, the more value you can give to, and share with, others.
5. Gather resources you use and would recommend to other people
If you’re being seen as an authority figure by others, then you better believe you’re the one they’ll be looking to for resources and advice.
This is why it’s important to have a collection of resources you’ve not only used and believe in, but that you also feel strongly about recommending to others.
Take Action: Every time you use a new resource or tool, take notes on your experience.
Once you have a strong list of 5 resources or more that you know your followers can benefit from using, create a Resources page on your website.
Note: Your credibility is at stake, so choose wisely.
6. Read more
In addition to following great leaders who you look up to, and learning something new about your expertise, industry, or niche every day, it’s also important to read!
Business books abound proven by our list of The Top 15 Business Books recommended by today’s top entrepreneurs, and in every one of these business books you’ll be introduced to new strategies, new ideas, new resources, and new inspiration.
Keep your mind at work!
Take Action: Make a list of the top 5 business books you want to read, and set a date that you want to have them finished by.
Hold yourself accountable to that date!
Make note of the great ideas you read about, the skills you want to focus on improving, and any personal strengths you want to build. Then, you can come back to this list over and over again to remind yourself of what you’re striving for.
7. Build and grow your relationships
Building and growing relationships will no doubt help you become a better leader, because the more connected you are, and the more people you have to bounce ideas off from and share feedback with, the better off you’ll be.
I can’t think of a single leader who went at it alone.
Strong leaders consistently credit their success to having:
- Support and motivation,
- A community or mastermind they can turn to for feedback
Take Action: Write down the names of 10 people who you feel that – either by building or growing upon your relationship – both of you would benefit.
Then, reach out to those people and connect.
If they’re in your geographical area, then try to set a time to meet for coffee. If they aren’t in your geographical area, then send them a note and ask how things are going with their business, and whether or not there is anything you can do to help.
Also ask whether they’re planning to attend any upcoming conferences or events, and try to connect with them in person if you’ll be in the same place at the same time.
Otherwise, you can always settle for a virtual meetup via Zoom or Skype to catch up and see how you can give to that person and help support them.
Building and growing relationships takes time and energy; commit to it and your life will change for the better.
What Becoming a Better Leader Means
As you can tell from the steps above, becoming a better leader doesn’t happen overnight, and it’s not something you achieve one time and then you’ve “made it”.
Building leadership skills takes time and effort, and it’s an ongoing commitment – not a one-time thing.
Becoming a better leader means:
- Consistently growing your knowledge and expertise in whatever industry or niche you’re in;
- Being willing and able to share your insights with the people around you;
- Being good at not only sharing your expertise and insights, but also at teaching other people how to apply that knowledge so they don’t make the same mistakes; and
- Being someone your followers view as an authority and someone they can trust.
It also means big potential for your business
Deliver value and give to your audience freely – with integrity and passion – and your fans and followers will always be there.
Learn to take responsibility for your actions, own your decisions, act with confidence, and use your failures and missteps as learning experiences.
You’ll be amazed by the lessons you can carry with your for years to come, and how those lessons can truly help and impact other people once you share them.
Feeling a little fearful or nervous about sharing your experiences, whether that be on stage, via a podcast, or on your blog?
Make helping others achieve their goals through sharing the lessons learned, skills, and knowledge you already have BIGGER than your own fears.
When you can make it NOT about you, everything changes. Make it about the people you can impact and serve.
It’s never crowded along the extra mile. – Wayne Dyer
Don’t we all want to become better leaders?
Honestly, the commitment and responsibility isn’t for everyone. The great leaders you follow are unique for a reason: they’ve taken on the work, built a team who helps support them, and they make sacrifices to serve other people every single day.
Maybe leadership isn’t necessarily for you, but that doesn’t mean you can still take these 7 steps and improve your life in some way starting right now.
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Note: This post was originally published in 2014 and has been fully revamped and updated in June, 2020 to continue providing relevant value to you!