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How to become a leader in your organisation

The move from junior to senior members of a team is not an easy one. It takes hard work, dedication and time. You don’t go from zero to 100 in the space of a few short years. You plan it, you acquire the skills to reach a top position, and you ensure that you are ready for the job ahead. And even then, just because you have made it to a management role does not mean you are a good leader. 

We chatted to a few leaders in various industries to find out what it takes to work your way up into a leadership role and how to be an effective leader in your organisation. 

Look around you for inspiration

“My father has always been my role model,” says Anton Gillis, CEO of Kruger Gate Hotel. “When I was younger, and even now in my later years, I aspire to be like him. I continue to learn from him daily” 

There are leaders all around us on a daily basis. Find someone who inspires you, a leader who makes you want to be better and do better in your career and learn from them. You could ask them to be your mentor or just pick their brain for some advice every now and then. 

Don’t forget to make time for yourself

There is a hustle culture that exists in the world, that you don’t have to buy into in order to be a strong leader. In fact, a good leader knows how to establish a good work-life balance. And yes, there will be times when you need to work longer hours or harder in order to meet deadlines and deliver on projects, but try not to make it a habit. 

Tim Cordon, Chief Operating Officer Middle East and Africa for the Radisson Hotel Group, notes the importance of prioritising your well-being. Cordon has used his love for cycling to ensure that he takes time for himself. 

Reflecting on his early career, Cordon shares, “Your 20s are usually the years you work the hardest and longest hours; however, my advice is to work hard but make more time for family and friends, and take the time to disconnect and go on holidays. You never get that time back and I missed so much in my 20s just working every day without taking time off. Now, I use cycling to ensure that I make time for myself and for things I enjoy doing.” 

Focus on the soft skills

There are many hard skills needed to become a manager, CEO, head of a division or any other leadership role. Soft skills, however, are arguably equally as important, if not more. 

Gillis explains: “It starts with respect for human dignity, regardless of one’s background, religious beliefs, age, culture, and job grade in a company. One has to automatically have an understanding that respect for human dignity is not negotiable. Also, listening is more important than hearing when it comes to leadership. Team members want to know that you understood what they said and that you will support them when needed.” 

Be bold and ask for what you want

There’s a saying that goes “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”. This was said by Hockey Hall of Fame legend, Wayne Gretzky, and it’s equally true no matter which career you choose. 

Aisha Pandor, Co-founder of SweepSouth says that trying to be bold and confident by asking for what you want is one of the ways to become a leader and leading player in your sector. 

Pandor also notes that you need to view your work and career as a long-term game and act accordingly and to partner with people who make you up your performance.

Be empathetic

“My superpower skill as a leader is definitely empathy,” says Pandor. “To be empathetic you have to care about people and you have to listen. Listening is gathering information, and gathering information when you’re building a business is incredibly powerful. 

“Additionally, I’ve developed the ability to balance multiple identities. I don’t try to separate my identity as a leader from my identity as a woman, from my identity as a mother and wife.” 

Strive to be a leader no matter what role you hold

Being a leader in your organisation doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to be in a management role. Anyone can be seen as a leader if they possess the right qualities and attitude. There is also a high chance of eventually becoming a leader in your team if you display leadership qualities no matter what your role. 

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