In the business world, people are constantly on the look for leaders. Leaders are people who get things done and who don’t wait around for someone else to handle a problem that needs to be dealt with. Leaders are people who march to the beat of their own drum and take charge of the situation and the world around them. Do you know how to identify a good leader? There are a few things to watch for.

Does the person have a firm handshake when they introduce themselves? Do they look you in the eye when talking? Are they prepared with business cards? Do they emit a sense of charisma? Do they demand the attention of their audience? There are so many ways to spot a good leader, and we’ve only begun to scratch the surface of what describes someone who is a natural born leader. This may sound like you, and it may not. However, by the end of this article, you should have an idea of how to become a great leader, and how to become a leader, not a follower.

One of the absolute most important things to do to become a leader at work is always to be prepared. However, being prepared is not just limited to having a substantial amount of business cards and making sure your PowerPoint presentation looks well put together. Being prepared has a lot to do with your mindset. If you’re going into a meeting, you should always be aware of what the other person’s interests are, what this person has to offer to you, what you have to offer to them, and what exactly is it that they hold important or close to their hearts.

Do as much homework before you meet whoever it is you’ll be dealing with. Get a solid feel for this person and absolutely everything they stand for. It may feel like a mundane task as to you start to get going with it, but the payout is well worth it.

Along with being prepared for knowing about the person you are meeting with, it is just as important to be prepared yourself! Know with 200% certainty as to why you are where you’re at. Understand what goals you have set for yourself and how you want to accomplish them. The great Bruce Lee once said, “A goal is not always meant to be reached; it often serves simply as something to aim at.” Here, Lee is establishing the fact that you shouldn’t be disappointed if you don’t accomplish your goal exactly the way you had initially set out to.

In these situations, it’s better to have your goal act more like a direction of where you want to go. If your goal gets you to the relative place you want to be, you have succeeded. Don’t be so rigid with your goal that you aren’t open to different ideas and opinions of others, but also don’t be wishy-washy. Find a happy medium between the two where you know what you want, but are also a bit flexible with how you want to acquire it.

Along with all of these mental practices, there are quite a few physical things to be aware of when talking about different ways to be a leader – especially at work! For starters, you need to put your phone away. No matter what kind of situation you’re in at work, you need to give the people you are dealing with your undivided attention. Your tweets, snaps, and Instagram posts can wait. If you want to be a leader, you’ll follow this step. Be the person who leaves the phone in the bag and focuses solely on achieving what they set out of the house to do.

Additionally, you’ll want to make sure you don’t look like a stone when you’re talking or giving your presentation. A simple smile or a few hand gestures can go a long way to show people that you are interested in what you’re talking about or what they have to say. Body language is huge when it comes to being a great leader, so use it to your advantage! Act firm, radiate a sense of confidence, don’t be afraid to show off your pearly whites, and make sure that people don’t mistake you for a mannequin that someone brought in from the mall.

Along with these smiles and gestures, it goes without saying (but we’re going to say it anyway) that you absolutely must dress the part. You’ve heard the saying ‘dress to impress’ thousands of times before, but that’s because it works. The way you dress says a lot about a person, and although the clothes may not necessarily make the man, they sure do make for a solid appearance as a leader. You want to make sure that you’re dressed professionally – obviously – but it’s also a good idea to throw a bit of personality into your clothing. Have your clothing selection not just be a representation of business, but also a professional version of who you really are.

Obviously, these aren’t the only ways to become a leader at work, but they will set you off in the right direction if you weren’t there already. Becoming a leader and not a follower can be a bit of a difficult task, but once you do, you’ll never want to turn back. Stay strong, accomplish what you set out to do, be prepared, and stand up for yourself. Don’t be a follower. Be a leader.

Owning yourself in the business world is huge. While there are millions upon millions of followers, there are only so many leaders out there. Although it is true that leadership requires more work out of you, the rewards and satisfaction are worth it.

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