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How do you see leadership potential in someone who has never managed people before? Leadership starts with leading oneself.
Leaders understand respect long before they are officially recognized as leaders. Unlike credibility, respect is not domain specific.
Respect is defined as: esteem for the excellence of a person, a personal quality, or ability.
5 Signs of Strong Leadership Potential
- Protect their time.
Defending your time starts by respecting it because everyone is limited to the same number of hours each day. While C-suiters usually get help from others (in the form of assistants) in managing their time, leaders at all levels know that respect for time is a core competency.
People on their A game are on time and expect the same of others. When delays are inevitable, leaders (and people with strong leadership potential) both give notice and expect notice from others.
2. Know how to pause.
The ability to tolerate silence emanates (or creates) respect. Make up your mind to pause and silently count to 3 (or to 5+) before answering an important question or before beginning your presentation. Those valuable seconds give you a chance to frame your answers and modulate your voice in the best possible way.
Or use a long pause if someone says something stupid or asks a totally inappropriate question like “How old are you?” Freeze them out before responding.
3. Finish sentences strongly.
You’ve probably heard people make statements that sound like questions. People with strong leadership potential don’t do that. It makes you sound unsure of yourself.
If someone has the audacity to interrupt you, FINISH your sentence even as the rude person is speaking over you. That communicates that YOU do have something to say, even if an idiot doesn’t understand that yet. You can graciously give him a turn, if it’s appropriate, at a better time.
4. Demonstrate social intelligence.
Leaders learn by asking good questions. Here are are 25 Imaginative Conversation Starters for you. If you want to move up, look for opportunities (aka “meetings”) where you can demonstrate social intelligence.
When answering questions, even the basic, “Where are you from?” gives you an opportunity for great conversation potential. Most of us have lived in many places, so giving a quick run down is good and if by a miracle you have only lived where you are now – that’s also interesting conversation fodder.
Just to be sure, no one actually cares where you’re from…it’s all about making conversation. You get a chance to make interesting comments or even connections with others who may have been there too.
Compliment people intelligently – that means commenting on something specific and something preferably about their actions and decisions, not on things beyond their control.
“My how tall you are” is not a meaningful compliment. “Good job” is meh. “I really like the way you compared a network to a layered cake” is solid.
5. Know their values.
Being clear on what’s important to you is helpful in developing your leadership potential. Sharing your values in conversation can turn a business meeting into a job offer. A chance encounter at the airport into a lovely friendship. A stalling conversation at an event into a meeting. Any conversation improves when you reveal your values.
The first step in this is to write down your top 3 values. Check out the ones I’ve listed as inspiration, but make sure the ones you write are true for YOU. Here are a few to get you started:
- Treating everyone with dignity
- Constant improvement
To work values into a conversation (making it more magnetic) use the word “why” or “what caused” in your follow-up questions.
Conversations About Values
What caused you to move here?
Why did you choose work at X company?
Why does X appeal to you as a vacation spot?
When you are able to work the subject of values into conversation, your partners will become more engaged. They realize what is important to you. And they’ll likely try to prove they share your values.
If you missed it, here’s my free Catalyst Conversation Worksheet – those conversations that move you toward your goals.