The mindset of a natural born leader

Since the earliest days I can remember, I have always been what many refer to as a natural born leader. I have a Type A, take-charge personality. I get things done, I’m organized and I make decisions quickly.

However, as I have grown into the role of running a nonprofit, I have had to learn that often, natural born leaders need to spend some time getting to know the work styles and personalities of others, particularly those on their teams, and how to best work with them.

Whether you have some natural born leaders on your team or are one of us, understanding these traits will help you lead a successful team.

Here are some leadership traits that natural born leaders share:

They lead
As a leader, I don’t wait for someone to ask or to grant me permission. I have one speed in which I operate, which is full steam ahead. That being said, I’ve learned in working with others that I have to pause­, maybe even stop, wait and listen. Some of my favorite colleagues need more time to process their thoughts and ideas and clearly articulate them. By learning to adapt my pace at times to theirs, the end result can be that much better.

They listen
Being a natural born leader doesn’t mean just listening with one ear and throwing everything your colleagues say out the window. It means showing that as a leader, you have respect for your team and will listen with intent. Reflect upon what your colleagues are saying and ensure people are being heard. By setting this example to your team that all ideas, challenges and thoughts are not just heard, but truly considered, you will foster a more collaborative and open environment.

They accept change
This is a hard one. I have found that like other natural born leaders, I am happy with change. In fact, sometimes I thrive on it. Change has never bothered or intimidated me. However, change can be scary to a lot of people. I have learned that it needs to be delivered in a way that is cautious, kind and empathetic. One step to helping alleviate the fear of change is to develop a clear plan for implementing those changes, when possible, to help guide your team and plan for what’s ahead.

They crave balance
As a leader, I have mastered the whole work-life balance and what works for me. I work hard, but I also play hard. I have learned that I can’t be as successful leading Engage! Cleveland if I don’t balance that role with the things I love doing in my personal life.

Many people struggle with this on a daily basis. I have to work with my team to show them how to balance this juggling act so they can be productive employees. Whether that means allowing the flexibility to work off site, encouraging team activities or simply having open discussions on the topic, it’s important that my team understands the importance of work-life balance.

Ashley Basile Oeken is president at Engage! Cleveland and a 2018 Progressive Women honoree.