Building Basic Leadership Qualities | Blog

Growing up my mom would always say to us, “Be a Leader and Not a Follower.” I would nod my head okay as if I truly understood what it meant. As a child, I thought it meant being bossy. This thinking got me in lots of trouble on the Bronx streets and eluded me to what the true qualities of a leader are.

As a result, I spent years studying business and other leaders to figure out, “What does it mean to be a leader?” Finally, I learned much of what makes a great leader are the things both spoken and unspoken. Much of this is not taught in a classroom but through years of “real world” experience. For instance:

Walk like a Leader

Pull your shoulders away from your ears and walk with your headin line with the rest of your body as you stare the world in the eye.

For a brief period, I worked for a large publishing company in NYC in the sales department. I will never forget the posture and gate of the woman with whom I worked. She would rush into each meeting avoiding eye contact with everyone in the room. It is sad to say but she was in this miserable job for years. She had the education and the knowhow. She did her job very well. However, her walk said it all.

Walk in strong steps. Let others take you in as if they would a fine wine. Encounter others with a smile. Make eye contact. That is how you make your presence known.

Talklike a leader

In the “One-Life Solution: Reclaim Your Personal Life While Achieving Greater Professional Success” the author (Henry Cloud) writes about words to incorporate into your vocabulary to define who you are. Words like:

“I think…”

“I want…”



“I don’t know.”

“When you…”

For instance, “I think.” Not only does it define who you are. It tells people you are able to differentiate yourself from others. So, the next time you are in a meeting and you have a valuable point to offer put it out there with a simple, “I think…”

He states what we say “Yes” to is where we are headed and what wesay “No” to keeps us going in a particular direction. Don’t be afraid of the word “No.” It is especially important to boundaries and structure. “No” shapes your focus. It determines how you use your time. “No” also protects your energy and your resources.

Being able to communicate our boundaries is necessary if you want to take steps to becoming an effective leader.

Dress like a leader

With dress codes that vary from company to company how can you dress like a leader?

Know the company’s dress code policy. If it is not online, secure a copy from HR.

Observe your higher ups not necessarily your peers. Dress for the executive suite. What are the high-level managers wearing? Even top performing sales people can be a great source. They are the face of the company.

On casual Friday’s, take it up a notch. Leave the Wellies, Uggs and construction boots at home. During the summer, flip-flops have no place in the office. Are sneakers or tennis shoes acceptable? Even if it’s stated, observe the crème de la crème of the organization. What are they wearing?

A clean pair of boot cut jeans, paired with a blazer, button down, or a sweater with a belt will always work.

Stephen Covey states, “Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall.”  Take the time to line your ladder up. Just remember to use the previous nicks from the leaders before you as a guide.

Did you have a mentor or someone you followed to the top? Share a few of the leadership qualities you acquired?

Elethia Deal is an image consultant and professional speaker for Alexander Q Image Group. She regularly holds workshops on personal branding, color analysis, financial management… to name a few. She is also a speaker for the Making It Count Programs of Monster Worldwide where she speaks to over 2,000 students each year about managing money, finding a career and personal branding.

Posted via email from AndyWergedal