Regardless of your confidence and ambition, without a handful of traits it’s hard to get people to follow you. That’s according to CEO and founder of Carats & Cake, Jess Levin. At 32, she worked for nearly four years in venture capital rubbing elbows with driven entrepreneurs and founders before building her own company. Three and a half years later, her startup works with about 18,000 wedding-oriented businesses across the U.S. and sell them a suite of tools and services that enhance the way they do business. Here’s what you need to do to be a leader others want to follow.
1. Possess a compelling and authentic vision.
It must be one that’s uniquely yours and defined on your own terms. “If you’re not authentic with what you’re trying to build and really believing in your own definition of success, it’s challenging to get others to buy in,” she says.
2. Communicate the “why” behind your idea.
Regardless of the brilliancy of your vision, your team needs to feel part of it and not that they’re merely being told to do something. “If you’re giving them the opportunity to really understand why the process is happening, you’re also hopefully giving them the tools to be able to innovate on that process and drive even more value back to your organization,” she says.
3. Invest in your team’s training and development.
To keep talent motivated they need to feel as if you’re investing in their growth. Millennials, in particular, value having the tools to make better decisions. They want to know they’re not just executing on your behalf, but that leadership prioritizes their personal and professional growth.
4. Hone your listening skills.
Leaders typically know how to talk, but aren’t as good at sitting back and listening. Yet, allowing people to be heard not only helps with relationship building, it allows leaders to learn from the capable people in their circles.
5. Share your success.
Whether it’s tangible rewards or verbal congratulations, the people who help you achieve your goals need to see and hear your gratitude. “And be authentic in that,” she says. “People need to feel like they’re sharing financially or emotionally in the success that you have as a company.”