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5 Skills You Must Acquire Before You Can Lead

By Kate Mckay | Small Business

I often help others find ways to "level up" in their lives and start moving toward their passions. One surefire way that I've found to increase anyone's forward momentum is developing the individual's  leadership potential.

But it takes some skill and hard work to pull off being a leader.

Chances are, you're already leading in some area of your life, even if not at work. Whether you love leading or feel reluctance in that role, here are five skills I've found essential for being the pathfinder in any area of your life:

Related: Why Being Self-Critical Can Make You a Stronger Founder

1. Practice self-reflection.

One of the keys to being a good leader is having the ability to reflect back on decisions made and look at situations, whether good or bad, as lessons.

Once you've done so, you can actively apply what you've learned. Taking mistakes or failures in stride and moving forward is an essential part of becoming a leader of integrity. Many of these lessons are useful to share with staff and strategic partners. In my case, I've found they often apply even to my children.

2. Be proactive rather than reactive.

Successful leaders come to the table prepared for a variety of scenarios and know how to behave when situations fall apart or don't go according to plan. Preparedness ensures that you're never in a situation where you can't offer value or assist in problem solving as needed.

This is simply being proactive. If you're in a reactive state, chances are you're not operating from a place of calm; your emotions are leading the charge. The best decisions, however, often result from when your thoughts and emotions work in tandem.

You must always consider not only what's favorable for the company's bottom line but also what's best for the team and the overall morale of the company.

Related: 8 Keys to Being Identified as a Leader

3. Find an unshakeable "why."

Effective leaders know their "why" and live it always. If you lack a clear vision about what you want personally and professionally, your commitment and focus will be inconsistent and you'll fail to inspire those you lead.

The greatest leaders have the drive to ensure that their vision comes to fruition even in the face of adversity. It's this can-do attitude that gives rise to the most successful and most rewarding leadership experiences. Great leaders have a clear vision that starts from within. It's drawn from their understanding of their natural gifts and desires.

4. Feel passion for what you do.

If you don't have a deep burning in your belly for success in your venture, it will be difficult to maintain the consistency you need to lead your team to victory.

The bigger the impact you want to have, the greater your influence must be. And nothing stirs the pot more than having a passionate leader who's not only committed to the success of the company but also to that of each employee.

5. Be prepared to do what others won't.

As the old adage goes, "When the going gets tough, the tough get going." Great leaders know that for them, failure is not an option. Even if everything seems to be falling apart, a great leader has the self-discipline to stand up to failure or it crumbles the business like a house of cards.

This means resisting the urge to make excuses and always doing the hard work, even when it seems like sheer agony. It all comes back to the need for crystal clear vision: Sometimes picturing the end result and the satisfaction of the challenge being behind you is the only way to make it through the rough spots.

Related: Join the League of Extraordinary Bosses: 4 Habits to Cultivate

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