Published On : June 25, 2010
What makes a great leader? To answer this question, you might start by reading up on the philosophies and strategies of brilliant leaders throughout history, like Elizabeth the First or Alexander the Great. But it may take a leap of the imagination to apply these philosophies and strategies to the daily challenges of an entry-level office job in the 21<sup>st</sup> century.
Job posts often specifically request "leadership qualities," and leadership seminars attract huge audiences who are willing to pay a high price to learn the secrets of effective motivation and wise governance. But if you're starting out at the ground level, here are a few simple, practical ways to channel the philosophies of great leaders into the realities of your corporate career.
1. Choose the Right Goals
People will be more likely to follow you if you're moving in the right direction. Are you trying to amass influence and gain power in order to make yourself feel powerful? If so, you'll probably have trouble convincing others to fall in step behind you. Are you trying to bring good fortune, higher revenues, peaceful cooperation, general fulfillment, and shared victory to the people you're attempting to lead? If so, your job will be much easier. Before you try to take the wheel, look into your heart to make sure your goals are the right goals…for everyone.
2. Control Your Emotions
People won't follow a leader or listen to a speaker who they can't trust. And they're more likely to trust someone who seems stable, steady, and human. When you have strong feelings, don't hide them. Just find a way to express your feelings without losing control of your words or actions.
3. Set the Right Example
In theory, having a perfect life and being a perfect person are easy: just make all the right moves, all the time. But in actual practice, there's an enormous gulf between knowing what we ought to be doing at any given moment, and knowing how to do it. Help those around you across this gulf by showing them what the right moves look like. Stop lecturing and start acting. If you want others to behave, dress, speak, or think in a certain way, start by showing them how it's done.
4. Get Behind, Not in Front
Leadership starts at the back of the pack, not the front. When your team wins an award, put every member of the group into the spotlight before you let the light shine on yourself. Take responsibility for failures and give away credit for successes. Thank others constantly. Put your supporters on the pedestal meant for you. Take on the dirtiest and hardest jobs. Give the most attention and help to the slowest runners at the back of the line. To get respect, give respect.
5. Energy & Action
If you think it takes endless energy to stay in control of your own life and your own projects, how much do think it will take to control the projects of two people? Or five, or fifty? As the CEO of You Inc., you may be tuckered out by the end of the day. If so, you'll have to tap into a deeper well of energy in order to lead others. Stay constantly on the lookout for ways to improve your planning and organization skills.
Use Your Resume to Showcase Your Leadership Qualities
To emphasize leadership experience in your resume, look back over your professional history and find concrete examples of the qualities listed above. When have you demonstrated these qualities during your professional and academic life, and what were the results? Keep your descriptions clear, brief and relevant. Use the templates and formatting tools on MyPerfectResume to make your case to potential employers.