How To Become Strong Leader (With Traits and Tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published March 17, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

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A strong leader effectively guides an organization as it achieves its most necessary goals. While there are various leadership positions you can pursue, many leadership roles require similar skills and development processes. Understanding how to become a leader and discovering some common leadership traits can help you pursue a relevant and successful career path. In this article, we describe how to become a strong leader and provide leadership traits and tips to help you guide an organization.

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Why is it important to become a strong leader?

Becoming a strong leader can allow you to use your skills and knowledge to help a business, club or other organization succeed. If you're in a management, teaching or executive role that requires supervision of others, optimizing your leadership skills can allow you to effectively guide those under your leadership. Additionally, if you're interested in pursuing a leadership role in the future, developing leadership skills and strategies can help you prepare to advance your career.

How to become a strong leader

Here are seven steps you can take to become an effective leader within an organization:

1. Continue your education

Strong leaders are often highly knowledgeable in their field so that they can share knowledge with others and create relevant strategies and goals. If you're interested in beginning a leadership path, consider pursuing continuing education opportunities. Some examples of opportunities you could pursue include an advanced degree in your field, continuing training on new technology or techniques and additional field-specific certifications or licenses. You can also pursue general leadership training.

2. Develop skills through experience

Another step to becoming a strong leader is to develop additional skills and competencies within your field. While you can do this through educational opportunities, you can also pursue experiences to gain new skills. For example, you may want to pursue a project within a different department to understand the department's needs and procedures.

You could also work on a collaborative project that allows you to work with those from various areas. Within current projects, you can challenge yourself with leadership roles such as becoming a team lead. This can help you better understand the technical aspects of your field while also increasing leadership skills like collaboration, delegation or public speaking.

3. Understand the organization's needs

A strong leader may understand the needs of the organization and how to effectively work toward those goals. If you're interested in becoming an effective leader, consider learning as much as you can about the organization and what it hopes to achieve. This can help you become the type of leader that can make the right decisions to move the organization forward.

One way to better understand an organization's needs is to talk to various stakeholders. You can discuss opportunities for improvement with customers, employees and fellow leaders. This can help you identify strengths and areas for improvement so that you can develop targeted strategies for success.

4. Build relationships

A good leader often maintains positive relationships with others. One reason to do this is to better understand employees so that you can guide them as they develop skills and work toward goals. Leadership is often collaborative and people-focused, so you may want to create strong relationships to help you improve as a leader.

You can develop a wide range of relationships with employees as you begin your path to leadership. You can create meaningful connections with coworkers, offer support to new employees, share knowledge with professionals in different areas of the organization or pursue mentorship from the organization's current leadership. In some cases, showing initiative to pursue relationships can demonstrate that you have the passion, interest and people skills be successful in a leadership role.

Related: 18 People Skills To Help You Succeed at Work

5. Create a shared vision

After developing relationships, you can use those connections to create a shared vision for the organization that encompasses the goals and needs of various departments or areas. This vision can create a common objective for employees to work toward and give you an opportunity to advance as a manager. It can also help you organize your thoughts and ideas around an identity that can help an organization succeed.

This vision may involve both short and long-term goals. For example, you may develop a vision of an organization becoming more service-focused. Some short-term projects to reach this goal include developing company-wide food drives or service days. A long-term project could be to build relationships with local nonprofit organizations.

6. Communicate expectations

As you work toward a shared vision within an organization, you can communicate expectations and updates with all employees. This can help you appear approachable and caring and provide an opportunity to strengthen relationships as you advance your leadership career. It can also guarantee that all employees understand their roles and objectives as they complete their work.

In many cases, strong leaders are transparent about the status of an organization and its needs. This can make employees feel included and valued. It can also allow employees to challenge themselves and develop new skills. For example, a leader communicating sales expectations for a department can allow the department to develop strategies for effective growth.

7. Show appreciation

As you strengthen your leadership position, consider demonstrating your appreciation for the employees that allow you and the organization to succeed. You can do this through recognition of individual employee achievement or through company-wide celebrations. This can help you inspire employees to continue working toward goals as you strengthen individual relationships.

Related: How To Show Employees You Value Them: 12 Appreciation Ideas

Traits of a strong leader

Here are some traits a good leader may have:

  • Patient: Strong leaders are often patient as they work toward goals or objectives. They may have to invest in strategies that take time to complete successfully, which can require them to remain positive as they guide an organization forward.

  • Focused: Since they may experience many options or potential distractions as they attempt to fulfill a vision, leaders may develop strategies to stay focused on only the most relevant opportunities. This may require a leader to ignore opportunities that may seem positive but can ultimately not move the organization toward a goal.

  • Accountable: Strong leaders can often take ownership of mistakes so that they can learn from them as they move forward. As a mentor and guide, a leader often develops skills to understand mistakes and fix them in the future rather than dwelling on them.

  • Compassionate: Strong leaders are often able to relate to employees to help them achieve their highest potential. This often requires a leader to empathize with an employee and understand their barriers to help them overcome challenges.

Tips to become a strong leader

Here are some tips you can use to improve your leadership skills:

Embrace failure

If you're interested in becoming a strong leader, you may experience challenges or make mistakes along the way. This is especially true if you take risks that often allow a leader to succeed. Instead of seeing this in a negative light, you can use these opportunities to improve your skills for the future. This can help you avoid mistakes as you move forward. For example, a sales challenge that creates less revenue than expected can provide an opportunity to evaluate current sales tactics and look for improvement opportunities.

Related: 11 Ways Leaders Fail (And How To Fix Them)

Find a mentor

Pursuing mentorship from someone within the organization with experience as a leader can help you develop skills and knowledge you may not receive from an educational program. For example, your mentor can describe their experience within the company and provide insight into the current structure. They can also answer any specific questions you have. While you may pursue mentorship from executive leaders, anyone with project management or department-level leadership experience can provide additional understanding. This can also prepare you to mentor other employees as you increase your success.

Take your time

Becoming a strong leader may be a long process. It may take many years for you to develop the necessary skills and increase your rank within the organization. While you may not achieve your dream role immediately, you can learn from each new experience to become as effective as possible when you do accept a leadership role. Once you begin your position, it may also take more time for you to fully understand all requirements. As you prepare for this process, consider being patient and embracing the opportunity of a long but rewarding career path.

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