If I asked you who to define what a leader is, how would you do it? Would you say it’s the person in the corner office leading your company? Would you say it’s a member of a professional organization you’re involved with? Would you say it’s an intern in your company?
When I think of what I leader is, a lot of qualities come to mind — dedication, knowledge, attitude, aptitude — and these are probably some you would agree with. However, one prerequisite a leader does not need to have is a title. That means no matter what position you have within a company, whether it’s an intern, assistant or coordinator, you can be a leader.
Here are some tips for effective leadership, especially for students, interns and new professionals. Sure, these might sound like general career tips, but being a leader in the workplace is an entirely different mindset. Check them out and see how you can apply these principles in your office.
Attitude is everything
When you walk into work every morning, you can be a leader by motivating and inspiring with your attitude. Don’t let challenges get you down and look at new projects with a positive attitude. Hopefully, your attitude will be contagious and people will look to you for a pick-me-up when they need it. This creates a great work atmosphere.
Earn respect by doing what you say you’ll do
How many times have you offered help to a coworker and not followed through? I’ve done it before, and I know it doesn’t help with your credibility. Be honest with your coworkers and mean what you say — this will help you earn credibility and trust with your coworkers, and these are two traits leaders have a strong command of.
Learn and understand when to say yes — and no
There are only so many hours in the day, and at a certain point you can only take on so many projects. If you’re already swamped and can barely get through your daily to do list, it probably isn’t a good idea to take on a new project. That said, don’t be afriad to push yourself to do more. The point is there is a fine balance of doing a lot at work and not being able to get through your work. If you can demonstrate your ability to know the difference, you will definitely impress your coworkers and managers.
Give compliments a lot
You really can’t go wrong telling someone you think they did a good job or how much you appreciate their work. This is especially true of your managers and supervisors. Don’t be afraid to give a high-five to your boss if they did a good job. Chances are, your bosses probably don’t get praised for their work because they standards are higher, so go the extra couple of yards. Again, it goes back to attitude.
Promote teamwork, especially among those who don’t know each other
I didn’t realize it, but I let the e-board of MSU PRSSA formulate into pairs who always worked with each other. Looking back on the past year, I think a more effective approach would have been to encourage teams with the members who didn’t know each other as well. Also, you can take the initiative to get to know other people in your company. You never know who might be sitting next to you tomorrow.
Find ways to learn and grow with everything
As a young professional, you’re going to make mistakes. In fact, as you progress with your career, you’ll probably still make mistakes. In most cases, it’s not what you do, it’s how you react to the situation.Value professional development and always learn. It’s a great way to give more value to your company and your coworkers.
For more on effective leadership techniques, check out this slideshow from Andy Hanselman. There are some great tips in here for everyone:
So, what do you think? Can young professionals really be leaders?