These Are the 7 Daily Habits of Natural Born Leaders
Leadership is a collection of key skills that you can cultivate. Life coach Allison Task shares the daily habits, skills, and mental shifts that will put you in charge.
They see opportunities where others see challenges
We all have the same information in front of us; the question is what we do with it. On a rainy day, you can curse the sky, or take the opportunity to sell umbrellas to those who don’t have them.
Leaders see the opportunity in situations—and more importantly—help others to find it. When an industry is disrupted (iPhones to cameras, Lyft to taxis, AirBnB to standard hotels), that’s because someone saw a better way to do things.
The person who sees forgotten factories on abandoned streets and thinks: Hey, why don’t we grow produce in those spaces? That’s the dreamer who gives rise to entire industries like vertical farming.
And the good news is, you don’t need to be born with this skill, you can build it. Find the opportunity in a situation (especially a tough situation, one that doesn’t make sense). Find the opportunity.
Here’s how other people found their dream careers.
They recognize that it isn’t said until everyone says it
You don’t have a clearly defined plan until you have a clearly articulated plan. A good plan is shared by the entire team so that everyone can move toward the same goal.
One of my first jobs out of college was working for a company called EarthWeb, and Jack Hidary was CEO (he most recently ran for mayor of NYC). I often heard him say, “It isn’t said until everyone says it.”
I would watch him patiently explain something in the marketplace, then wait as the team members in the room would understand it and re-articulate it in their own words. It wasn’t enough for Jack to say it, he needed his team members to hear it and repeat it in their own words—articulate the vision in their own way.
This is how Jack ensured that everyone had a personal investment in the goal.
Communicating, and waiting to confirm that everyone has absorbed the plan is time-consuming. However, it’s far less time-consuming that charging down a path by yourself and then having to corral the rest of your team after they’ve wandered off in different directions.
To help you get people on board with your vision, make a conscious effort to use the phrases that build trust.
They know that they’re role models
I recently walked into my office and I saw a therapist who has another office in my building. I said hello and asked him how he was. He responded, “Crazy, like usual,” and moved quickly away.
He’s a therapist, talking about being crazy. Isn’t his goal to help people be less crazy? If he can’t do that in his own life… how can he help people live theirs?
As a leader, you are the ultimate role model. People are watching you all the time—how you walk through the hallway, what you wear, observing how you treat people, when you get to the office and when you leave, what you eat, if you seem well rested.
Good leaders take great care of themselves, with adequate sleep, exercise, and good eating. They know that’s the fuel to keep themselves at peak performance. Here are some signs you’re not taking good care of yourself.
They’re curious and present
Leaders enjoy being ahead of the curve; they are interested in what’s coming next. They want to play with new technology, meet new people, and quickly engage in conversations about what people are passionate about.
As a life coach, I often encourage my clients to pursue an informational interview with people who are at the top of the field—you’d be surprised how many professors and executives will make time for inquisitive individuals who are looking to get into their industry.
Real leaders don’t get trapped in the wormhole of social media, they don’t find themselves losing precious hours on Facebook or Twitter. They prefer the company of real people and are eager to engage in conversations where they can learn something new.
At my neighborhood coffee shop, I recently introduced myself to a local real estate mogul who I’d heard about. I knew that he was involved in a lot of philanthropic activity and wanted to ask about it, but I didn’t get a chance, as he was peppering me with questions about my business and what I do.
Great leaders want to learn about those around them, always looking for interesting people to collaborate with and opportunities to learn and grow. These are the networking rules to follow to help you reach your career goals.
They have a plan (and they’re also willing to abandon it)
I recently began working with a highly-skilled client, a man who builds submarines for the military. He has a Ph.D., is a professor and works on classified projects.
And he has a wife who was halfway through her pregnancy with their first child.
The job was good, but he wasn’t at the right company; he simply wasn’t a culture fit. After our first session, it became clear to him that in order to find a new job, he needed to leave his current job. He simply didn’t have the time to look for a job, work at his job, and manage a long commute.
This was a very frightening realization for a man about to have his first child. But what was more frightening was the thought of having a newborn child, a job he didn’t like, and feeling penned in. (These are the signs you’re in the wrong line of work.)
So he quit. He had no job leads in the pipeline, no offers that he was contemplating, but a lot of faith that with time he’d be able to figure this out if he had the time.
He had a new job in two months.
Use these tips to quit your day job and finally start your own business.
They share ownership
Another client of mine was getting married. Her mother and mother-in-law so badly wanted to help with the wedding, but their style was different from hers.
She took the opportunity to delegate the responsibilities that they were more passionate about than she was. It wasn’t that she didn’t care about these tasks—centerpieces, belt for her wedding dress—it was that these two individuals cared so much more.
When leaders find someone who is passionate about something, they give that person autonomy to complete the task as they see fit.
Learning how to delegate is one of the life skills everyone needs.
They take risks thoughtfully
It’s easy to believe that leaders are brave and confident enough to take bold risks, but actually, they’re more likely to plot carefully, thoroughly researched moves.
Remember, great leaders see opportunity where others don’t. Then they articulate the opportunity and wait until their team can also articulate it in their own words. They have plans, but are willing to abandon them when presented the data that makes change a requirement.
What may look like a risk to the untrained eye is just a really great opportunity, one they can’t refuse.
Esbe van heerden, creator of CreateNonfiction.com, trained as a scientist. When she came out of school, only then did she realize there weren’t a lot of opportunities in forensics, the field she wanted to go into.
Her father was writing a memoir, so she put her energy into helping him publish it. As she did, she realized the self-publishing world was a bit of a Wild West, and there was an opportunity to create a business to help those who wanted to self-publish.
So she started that business. To the untrained eye, this seemed crazy! Why would this scientist with no professional editing or book writing experience start a publishing company? And why would she squander her training as a forensic scientist?
She saw the opportunity. And her phone was ringing. And she could deliver an outstanding service to clients who wanted to write books without navigating the gauntlet of self-publishing.
Was she taking a risk? No, she was capitalizing on an opportunity. (Check out the things “lucky” people do to make their own luck.)