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Although there are many motivations for working from home, one of the advantages is that you are not under the constant eye of the boss. Another advantage is that you rarely need to hire employees. So why should you care about leadership? John C. Maxwell, best-selling author on leadership, defines leadership as “influence." The object of your influence is people! In your business you want to influence clients, vendors, associates, and even your family.
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People-oriented leadership focuses on developing and supporting people, encouraging teamwork and collaborating. To hone influential, people-oriented leadership skills, you need to put yourself in situations with people. An important note about people-oriented leadership activities is that you do not actually have to be in charge. Be a participant, but take opportunities to influence creativity, teamwork, and cooperation.
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Consider joining a service club or a church, or volunteer at a non-profit organization. By taking away the profit-motive, you can focus on leadership rather than the bottom line. When looking for an organization, do not start by looking for one that needs leaders. Look for one that has leaders. You want to be mentored first. So, volunteer to be an assistant to a leader so that you can watch her interact with people. Then, offer to lead smaller groups with oversight and feedback from your mentor.
Image Credit: FreeDigitalPhotos.net, by FloatingLemons
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Find mentorship through a business model that offers mentoring as part of its programs. While the business itself may not be important, the leadership skills you will learn are invaluable. Look for a people-oriented business such as network marketing or multi-level marketing. Make sure the business model offers mentoring, not just sales training. You are looking for someone to teach you about people, not about products.
Your greatest asset in learning leadership skills is to be teachable. The idea of the “born leader" is largely a myth. Some people learn leadership skills earlier than others do, but the skills can be learned.
Once you have developed a mentoring relationship, learn everything you can. Participate in every area. Keep track of everything that you learn: what works and what does not. Try to develop ways to make your programs run smoother or more efficiently, but always bear in mind the people involved...their feelings, what works for them, where they fit in.
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Adding to Your Bottom Line
When the time comes to add to your bio or resume, reference the leadership skills you have acquired. Be sure to note where you were successful in accomplishing goals. Get references from both your mentors and the people you led. To translate the skills you learn to your bottom line, begin to think about your clients, vendors, and colleagues as a team. Learn to make your goals their goals to gain their cooperation and give them a stake in making things happen to everyone’s benefit.
People-Oriented Leadership Activities
When you work from home, it can be a lot harder to take part in professional development activities and hone leadership skills. In this series, learn more about different leadership styles and ways you gain valuable experience as a leader.