Up, Up, and Away: Becoming a Leader in your Space

August 20, 2009

A universal sounding board, the internet is a venue for never-ending discussion. And while just about anyone can dive in and spark a conversation, leaders spark good conversation, revitalize old ones, and challenge the best ones. It doesn't matter whether you're the CEO of a major company or the intern at a small web design company, being a leader, in your organization and in your industry, is all about the attitude you have and the actions you take. Becoming a leader doesn't happen overnight but the three tips below can help get you started and on your way.

Study Up    

Know your space. There is a plethora of information out there waiting to be read. The challenge is sifting through the mounds of information and finding intelligent and helpful pieces that can be put into constructs enabling you to frame issues and make decisions.    

This includes knowing your colleagues and competition. Know who is talking and what they're talking about. Sure, Twitter lets you know what your friends are doing but it's also a great and easy way to find out what other people are talking about. Follow current leaders in your space and see what they're doing to remain a leader. Read other companies' blogs and check up on what they are doing.   

It's also important to know how your company currently fits in the space. While your focus may only be a small part of your company, knowing what's going on across the board will help you to better understand the big picture and your company's mission. It's one thing to be able to spit out a bunch of facts and data, but understanding what it all means and where it puts your company is imperative to becoming a leader.

Listen Up    

Once you know the background and continue to develop your knowledge and understanding, clarity will come from talking with important stakeholders including clients and employees. While everyone wants to hear good feedback, it's important to listen for areas in which your company can make improvements.  It may also be helpful to listen to what your colleagues and competition are saying. For example, as a raleigh web design firm we're always listening and talking to others (including competitors, clients, and prospects) in our community.  While their comments may not be directed towards you specifically, their knowledge and advice could help pinpoint areas where there is a general need for improvement in the space.   

Look It Up    

Be proactive. Network with industry peers and give feedback. Connecting with your community makes people aware of your presence. And when you're given feedback make sure to follow up on it. Sharing information and generating ideas keeps you in the conversation and betters the industry overall. 

Check in on your clients even when it appears everything is fine. While the power of the internet allows us to connect with others from the comfort of our own office, make sure to go out and meet with clients regularly. Interact with employees beyond email and chat rooms. Establishing a connection online is easy, but extending the connection beyond your keyboard keeps you in the minds of others and shows your drive and initiative. You can learn so many things about a client or colleague in one lunch meeting that you would never know through a dozen email exchanges.   

Make sure your website is running properly and that all information is up to date. Going out and seeking information instead of waiting for a problem to come to you will ensure that you will stay ahead of the game and potentially fix problems before they arise.   

A leader cannot know everything that is going on, but they must be aware of important things all the time. Taking the time to do your homework and encouraging those around you to do the same will drive you and your company to be leaders in your industry.    


 Megan's avatar


Thanks for reading! I agree with you, social media gives us the opportunity to create a close connection with people everywhere. On the other hand, there is something about knowing and interacting with colleagues in your geographical area, sharing the culture and lifestyle, that can not be replicated online. Hopefully we will see you around!


 Chris Butler's avatar
Chris Butler


Nice points. I saw a link to this post on Twitter from Clay, which backs up your point about listening via social media. One thing that is interesting about how social media has connected so many is that you often don't realize when you're in close proximity to someone else. On Twitter, Clay is just as "close" to me as other contacts I have (some of whom live overseas), though he is just a few miles from me geographically (we're in Carrboro).


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