5 Tips to Unleash Your Inner Leader Now!

I had the pleasure of attending a leadership summit hosted by The Association for Women in Communications Detroit Chapter and the International Association of Business Communicators. I heard from some powerful women in a Ted X format, got inspired by their experience and lessons and rubbed shoulders with professionals who have been in the field for years! My takeaway from this evening was to be a leader. As a leader, you should consider: creating a board of directors, learning to fail, taking risks, raising people and remaining authentic.

1 – Build your B.O.D!
No, I’m not telling you to hit the gym. Build your own personal board of directors! There are many benefits to having one. They act as a sounding board and a safe place to bounce ideas off. It’s effective peer mentoring, not to mention the personal benefits like friendships. You can build these at any stage of your career by networking, going to conferences, belonging to organizations or societies and having effective communication.

A diversity of opinion is important; there’s no point in having a board of directors if they’re going to agree with everything you do or if their sole purpose is to stroke your ego. Having a quality B.O.D will help you make informed career decisions, and you will end up inspiring each other. Leaders promote inspiration and inspiration promotes leaders.

“You need a number of people to help you navigate,” said Executive Director of the Marburger STEM Center at Lawrence Technological University Dr. Sibrina Collins.

2 – Learn to Fail
While failing is extremely hard to handle at first, it’s a fundamental part of growing as an individual. If you’re going to be good, you’re going to fail a lot. Failure is sometimes a better lesson than success. Think about it, if you were always right would you ever learn?

Instead of tearing yourself down, learn from your failures but be kind to yourself about it. Tell yourself that it was one mistake, you’re human and you’ll be better tomorrow. Don’t let little things like that hinder you from reaching your full potential by demonstrating leadership and accountability.

“If we meet ourselves with compassion, we deal better with criticism and handle failure better,” said Psychotherapist, Author and IABC Detroit Past President Harper West.

3 – Take Risks
On the path to leadership, you should think about how practical your methods are. Not every demonstration of leadership must be some revolutionary idea. It can be as simple as how you show up to work or class. With that being said, you shouldn’t blend in. People who blend in and only do what they’re supposed to do, don’t get noticed. Being a bold leader doesn’t mean you always have to be over-the-top. If you’re on a team and your group doesn’t seem inspired, you can be bold by putting yourself out there and painting the vision for them!

“You don’t always have to be overly bold, or overly grandiose to be an effective leader,” said General Motors Director of Global Manufacturing and Labor Communications Renee Rashid-Merem.

4 – Raise People
Leadership means you don’t take the path of least resistance. For example, if someone you know is making inappropriate comments at someone else’s expense, it might be easier to chuckle and brush it off or not say anything at all. If your goal is to be a leader, you should lead by example and call them out on it. We’ve evolved as a society; making fun of others really should not be tolerated or be used as a device to find common ground.

This example is another simple way in which you can stand out and be a leader. Leaders lift one another and celebrate differences.

“What makes us different as a team is also what makes us better as a team,” said Co-founder and CEO of The Allen Lewis Agency Jocelyn Allen.

5 – Remain Authentic
This idea might sound a bit obvious, but it’s hard to be a considered a leader if you don’t care about your cause. Being authentic means, you are self-aware, transparent and hold yourself to your morals. Being a genuine leader is not wearing one hat at work and another during your free time. It’s not a part-time job; it’s who you are regardless of who is watching. Authentic leaders can do whatever needs to be done to further their organization, regardless of their power, money or self-image.

“You need to have the tenacity and the audacity to do what needs to be done,” said President and CEO of United Way for Southeastern Michigan Dr. Darienne Driver.

In Short…

I’m sure no one has quite mastered every aspect of being a leader, we’re all human and make mistakes. Being a leader is mostly about knowing you’re going to mess up and figuring out better avenues to address situations when we do. It’s about how you show up every day, setting the tone and being an example and inspiration to others. Knowing your weaknesses and working on addressing them. Start working on some of your skills today by:

1. Surrounding yourself with ambitious individuals who will push you
2. Practicing how you deal with failure
3. Being bold in how you operate daily
4. Embracing differences and learning from others
5. Remaining true to your morals


(from the left: Dr. Darienne Driver, Renee Rashid-Merem, Jocelyn Allen, Harper West, Dr. Sibrina Collins)

Nina rossNina Ross is a sophomore public relations major and new media minor at Wayne State University (WSU). She has interned at Yatooma’s Foundation for the Kids, Whiting Law and multiple political campaigns. She is currently a member of WSU’s Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA), WSU’s American Marketing Association (AMA) and Adcraft Detroit. During her free time, she enjoys exploring downtown Detroit, reading and spending time with her husband and two cats. You can connect with her on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/ninacaross/