10 Ways to Become a Powerful Leader at Work
A client was interviewing a woman at IBM and was reminded of the person she once aspired to become. The executive was capable, strong, confident and articulate. Meeting her was like opening a bottle of champagne. Her passion and enthusiasm were contagious.
My client thought to herself, “What happened to me? The person I’d hope to become… where did she go?”
She realized that she had become much quieter than when she first started her job. She was less likely to share her opinions and limits her own powerful presence in her work. She has taken a back seat to her powerful leader she once was earlier in her career.
Instead of focusing on changing herself, my client’s first reaction was to change her circumstances. She was determined to join a new company and make a fresh start. She thought that her work environment had caused her to temper her personal style and not be herself. However, I expressed to my client that it’s not about the environment; it’s about who you are. “When you started this job, you decided to hide and thus you became less known and visible,” I advised her. “The end result was that you lost yourself at the same time. You have the power to change and alter what you originally created. You can’t change the company, but you can change yourself. Let’s focus on acting differently right where you are.”
Her passive, introspective self was most evident when she was around her superiors. My client was able to be herself with her own team, people below her, partners/clients and sometimes even with her boss. However, when it came to working with the senior executives, she felt she didn’t know enough to contribute. Even though she was highly skilled and often knew as much (if not more) than her superiors, she let herself disappear. She surrendered her power and confidence to them. She became fearful she would say something that would be seen as wrong and thus she would be reprimanded. She minimized herself in their presence.
She wants her real self back the confident self reflected in the woman she was interviewing. She wants to let this powerful presence out and to stand up for who she actually is. She began to get her powerful leader self back by doing the following:
1. Stand up and exercise your full power at work.
Don’t temper yourself or you’ll begin to forget who you are and have difficulty getting yourself back. Release completely the potential within you so that you are more fully yourself. Allow who you want to be and who you truly are to show up at work.
2. Stand out and become more visible.
This involves the willingness to be seen and to get recognized. You will have to participate and share more of who you are with others. Sometimes, people above you might not appreciate having you be visible. They prefer to have you stay invisible and not be seen and you must not let this affect you.
3. Be yourself and stand up to the hierarchy.
You can’t let hierarchy get in the way of you being yourself. It’s vital that you don’t acquiesce to the system or it will suck you up and eliminate who you are in the process.
4. See yourself in as great a light as others sometimes project onto you.
Often, people will see you in a different and more positive light than you see yourself. Your own self-limiting view can cause a distorted understanding of your sense of power and worth. So, it’s important that you work on your confidence and begin to see yourself in as great a light as others see you.
5. Speak your mind and tell others what you think.
Begin to share what you think and be more assertive. Continue to share without caring what others think or what the repercussions might be. The more you are true to yourself, the easier it is to be more confident in who you are.
6. Build relationships with senior people.
Engage with people above you. As you build relationships with executives, you’ll increase your confidence. Don’t be intimidated by their title or influence. It’s important to see them as equal and to recognize the value and benefit of having them as advocates supporting your career.
7. Find more opportunities to be yourself.
Look at your current projects and responsibilities and see how you can be more of yourself in the work you are currently doing. Also, look at new things you can do (outside your current work). Choose opportunities that allow you to be more you!
8. Find your edge.
You might feel a little anger for letting yourself get so disempowered and withdrawn. Channel this anger and find your edge. Feel the fire in your belly. This fire is the fuel to help you move forward, speak out and speak up. Be willing to challenge where you are and the limits surrounding you. Break out of the box of limitations and be more of your powerful, confident and leader-like self. To live with the fire in the belly is to live with passion and to want something more from your work.
9. What’s the worst that can happen?
Fears about being punished for speaking up are almost always unwarranted. The next time you find yourself holding your tongue around your superiors, ask yourself, “What’s the worst that can happen?” You’ll discover your concerns are usually not justified.
10. Finally, be positive and offer solutions.
You’ll build your own self-confidence (and earn the confidence of your superiors) if you offer positive solutions to problems.
This is your time to put a stake in the ground and to begin the journey of being a beacon of strength for yourself. You are willing to stand up for yourself. To stand up for your own powerful presence that yearns to be fully realized.