pepper rutland-leadershipIn writing about leadership on this blog, I’ve discussed leadership styles and common qualities possessed by those considered to be pioneers. Yet, there’s another component to be considered for those who aspire to lead. That is, what leadership looks like: what those who are chosen to head a company or organization present to others, and what makes them someone people want to follow.


Knowing these examples, and displaying them, are of the utmost importance for those seeking promotion. When it comes to assessing potential leadership, it is not enough to present oneself, through words, as capable of handling large responsibilities. Those in charge will consider your actions as well, looking at the following:


  1. Whether or Not You Have Influence:
    Business is politics, and politics is about getting people on your side. When looking at potential leaders, those who rank highest have some type of influence. This is best shown, perhaps, through large networks, connections, and an established audience which already heeds your thoughts and suggestions. This can be seen online, via social media, as a form of thought leadership, but also in the real world, within your own company. The best way to show you can lead is by doing it before you have the title.
  2. Your Ability to Get Things Done:
    Still, it’s not enough to have a large following which pays attention to your thoughts and ideas. One must also show a that he or she can get things done. The gift, and sometimes the burden, of doing well at work is that you are trusted with greater tasks. When given these challenges, do you rise to the occasion, meet and exceed expectations, or do you fall short and give excuses? Those who showcase the former have a greater chance of moving ahead.
  3. How Willing You Are to Learn:
    Contrary to common thought, great leaders don’t have all the answers. Someone who is equipped to do great things, however, has all the questions and a natural curiosity to learn and do better. Seek out mentorship, not just for the connections or aesthetic, but for a genuine interest in learning as much as possible to become the best at what you do, or plan to do. Humility and a willingness to improve are golden.
  4. If You Look at the Big Picture:
    A great leader must consider the sum of many moving parts. In meetings, in your work and nonprofessional settings, how well do you show an interest in things outside of your job as much as within? It’s important for a leader to understand business in general as well as what’s going on in the world around him. The quality of being well-rounded is not cliché, it really makes a difference.