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When you have high career aspirations, one thing you need to establish right off the bat is the fact that you can be a leader. In fact, you probably already are and just don’t know it yet.

Whether you’re new to a particular office environment or you’ve been thinking about a way to get to the position you really want, being a good leader is important. Everybody can think of at least one “natural” leader in the office, but how do you become a leader if you’re not born with those skills?

When you’re trying to become an excellent leader, you have to first make a name for yourself. Avoid looking like someone who is overbearing or ridiculously ambitious. So, how do you find the balance between the two? Take some time to consider the tips below to help you become a great leader at work without looking like a fool.

Get to Know Everyone

No matter who they are, or what they do, whether they’re related to your projects or not, make it a point to really get to know everyone you come in contact with. This means getting out and mingling a little bit.

For example:

• Go to company gatherings.

• Stop and talk to people; show a true interest in their work.

• Ask others about themselves – let them do most of the talking.

Even if they’re not people who can help your career directly, getting to know those you work with will teach you a lot about how the business works and what is going on. You can start making connections between the different individuals you come in contact with and this can lead to wondrous things later when you need to put together a team.

Know When to Turn Down Work

Leaders are often considered the go-to guy or the go-to gal, so you might think a leader needs to accept every proposed project. In reality, this isn’t true. If you look over a project and determine you can’t handle it well, you’re going to be in a much better place by not accepting it.

Show respect to your colleagues and client by helping them find a capable person to complete the project if you’re not able to do so.

You should never avoid a project just because it is too much work. Always cite specific reasons you can’t complete a project. This shows that you are able to take ownership of your schedule. Plus, it proves that you only want to provide top quality results to others, not just rush jobs.

A simple “no” can be a great way to get others to take notice, especially if you’re otherwise very agreeable.

Here are a few positive ways to turn down a project or assignment.

• “I’d really love to help out but I’m just swamped right now. I’d be able to do it next week, or perhaps I can help you find someone else who can get it done for you. I don’t want to do a crummy job just to get it done on time for you.”

• “Thanks for thinking of me! I want to help out but I have a lot on my plate this week. What about we setup a quick meeting to discuss the task and see if I can help you get on the right track, that way you can get it done on time?”

Work as Hard as Anyone Else

One of the great traits of good leaders is their willingness to work as hard as any of their teammates. If your team is working long hours, work with them. Lead by example and show them you’re willing to work and not just sit back and receive the credit.

By showing your team this kind of respect, you’ll find they’ll respect you in return.

Offer Solutions

While you should strive to tackle problems before they happen, from time to time this isn’t possible. When things are problematic, make sure you step in with a solution that you’re willing to work on to improve the situation.

Being remembered as someone who came forward with a solution will go a long way to earning respect as a leader in the workplace.

You can become a leader in your workplace, it just takes a little bit of time and effort, but it’ll be worth it!

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