Be a Professional Leader

Thursday, July 30 2015

What does a professional leader look like? Does it make a difference if I show up to your corporate office wearing jeans and a hard hat, a white lab coat, or a business suit and heels?

These “uniforms” might help you guess whether my area of specialization is construction, healthcare, or business; however, one thing it will not tell you is if I am a professional leader.

How can you recognize a professional leader?

Although professional leaders come from different industries, they are seen as having strong skills. They conduct themselves in a manner that supports the people in their organization to grow and to maximize their effectiveness. This creates stronger results.

Three key areas that professional leaders hone and develop are:


They have a robust vision that is clearly communicated, agreed upon by the team, and then translated into concrete goals that cascade throughout the organization. They ensure accountability at every step.

People Skills

They have the ability to bring out the best in team members. These skills are coaching, providing guidance, delegating, asking questions, listening, giving support, dealing with issues expeditiously and constructively, as well as providing specific feedback.


They are adept at setting an environment that inspires people to achieve. This involves developing a strong self-image, enthusiasm, treating people respectfully, embracing differences, being honest and showing integrity, involving people in the decisions that affect them, having career discussions, and asking for input from team members.

A professional leader will excel in all of these areas. If one of the three areas is weak, the desired results are unlikely to be attained. Consider the impact of a leader who is great with people and provides a motivational environment, yet can’t articulate a clear vision. People might work hard and enthusiastically, but in the wrong direction, and the results will not be achieved. Similarly, if there is clear direction and great enthusiasm, but the leader lacks interpersonal skills, the results are unlikely to be achieved or sustained.

Professional leaders leverage their strengths and work on enhancing those complimentary skills that support those strengths in order to achieve greater results both personally and through the team. It takes more than a uniform to be a professional leader.