During our lives, we are shown people throughout history that we categorize as leaders. From politicians to activists to sports figures, these people all have particular traits that helped them become leaders. Not only do certain traits make a difference, but so does opportunity. We all have traits that can make us effective leaders, but what makes the strongest leaders is knowing how to act when an opportunity arises.
We don’t learn as much about opportunity as we do traits when it comes to leadership, but when you take a minute to think about it, it makes sense. Would MLK have been the same beloved leader if racism and segregation didn’t exist? An opportunity for change presented itself, and he brought forth his leadership traits by acting on it .
Some of the leadership traits I possess include things such as being personable, having a sense of humor, and showing optimism. In addition to these things, I also have the ability to recognize opportunities, which helps me assert my leadership and use it to help those that need it.
Having emotional intelligence is an important skill to have for recognizing these situations because it helps you distinguish opportunity from misfortune. Listening is also a key skill required for spotting opportunities. I’m not talking about the kind of listening we always do, which is just not talking while the other person is talking. The best kind of listening is active listening. When you’re actively listening, not only are you learning more about the person talking, but you are also gathering information that you can use to better help or guide them. So many people talk about themselves, whether it’s troubles they are having or accomplishments they are sharing. Good leaders actively listen to these things because it creates transparency, which brings more opportunities to light. Opportunities are always around us, but many struggle to have their eyes open to them. The more we communicate and listen, the more apparent they become.
Personally, I am trying to become a more emotionally intelligent, active listener to put myself in situations that are outside of my comfort zone, so that I can not only grow, but present myself with different opportunities that wouldn’t have been available to me otherwise.