Leadership 101
18/10/2012 10:13:17 SA
Most employees say they aren't envious of the boss's corner office. OK, so maybe they wouldn't mind the bigger desk and better view. But they're not exactly hankering for the responsibilities and headaches that come along with it.

In a Robert Half International survey, 76 percent of workers said they don't want their manager's job. A statistic from the same survey might explain why: 65 percent of employees don't think they could do a better job than their boss.

While you might not covet your supervisor's job, chances are you do want to move up the corporate ladder at some point in your career. Prepare yourself by starting to sharpen your leadership abilities today. Even if you don't supervise anyone now, you can still prove yourself to be a promising leader. These skills will come in handy when you lead project teams or simply tackle more complex assignments.

Following are tips on successfully modeling the actions and habits of the best managers:

Become a first-class communicator
Considering that we live in the Information Age, the ability to communicate (and motivate others) is essential for managers at all levels. Why? As former Chrysler Chairman Lee Iacocca once put it, "You can have brilliant ideas, but if you can't get them across, your ideas won't get you anywhere."

When it comes to both oral and written communication, the more you do it, the better you'll get at it. Polish your skills by volunteering to deliver presentations and draft reports. If you're not yet comfortable in the spotlight, boost your confidence by joining a public speaking organization or taking a business communication course.

Listen up
Thoughtful leaders typically spend as much time listening as they do talking. Although they are confident, they don't claim to have all the answers. They welcome feedback, alternative viewpoints and new ideas. Moreover, they have an open-door policy to encourage people to reach out with questions and concerns.

Build rapport by practicing "active listening." During discussions, focus intently on what the speaker is saying rather than interrupting or tuning out to formulate a response in your head. Show people they have your undivided attention by nodding, maintaining good eye contact and keeping yoursmartphone out of sight.

Have a strong moral compass 
Ethics and accountability aren't just buzzwords; they're business imperatives. In fact, senior executives named integrity as the single most important trait they look for when grooming future leaders, according to another Robert Half International survey.

Once your character is questioned, the damage can be irreparable. Protect your reputation by conducting yourself honestly and forthrightly. Make it clear you are guided by a core set of fixed values -- not situational ones. If you do make a mistake or exercise poor judgment, take full responsibility and corrective action immediately.

Build a strong internal network
Influential managers know that being well-connected and well-respected are key to gaining information and resources. They also understand it's much easier to sell their ideas when they have allies who'll support them. So savvy supervisors continually cultivate a strong and diverse network within their organizations.

Expand your reach and visibility by forging friendships with colleagues in all corners of your company. Sign up for cross-departmental initiatives, go to company events and generally strive to be an outgoing team player. Share credit for your successes and pitch in to help others whenever possible. They'll likely reciprocate.

Be flexible
Top managers are adaptable, innovative and able to think on their feet. They remain open to new ways of doing things and appreciate that there's not always one "right" way to reach a goal or complete a task.

When business priorities suddenly shift or you're asked to tackle a project that falls outside your job description, be open to the change. Get onboard quickly and embrace the new challenge with a positive attitude.

It takes time and commitment to develop leadership abilities, but it's worth the effort. If you feel a bit awkward or intimidated as you strive to hone these skills, take comfort in knowing that most great managers don't fall into the rare "born leader" category. Like you, they're working really hard at it.