AnnaMarie Houlis
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Journalist & travel blogger

A great leader is a lot of things — they're forward-thinking, innovative,  dedicated, team-oriented and well-organized. While you may consciously strive to encompass all of these qualities and work on building your leadership skills, if you do these five things every day, you're already a stronger leader than you think you are.

1. You communicate in others' languages.

We're not talking about literally speaking in others' languages. We mean that you understand your audience and how they receive information, and you act and speak accordingly. You establish common ground and rapport with the people to whom you're speaking. You choose to speak slower or faster, depending on you much you think they agree or disagree with you, respectively. And you know how to work with your audience. For example, if they're people who take longer to process information, you give them space without being too pushy, but if they're people who are often on the fence, you sprinkle in a little extra persuasion. 

2. You back up your words.

Ever hear of show not tell? You don't just say what you mean; you show what you mean. You back up all of your claims with proof to establish credibility. The more you do this, the less you need to because people start developing trust for you. They start just taking your word for it. Nevertheless, you always share data, logic and sound reasoning following your big ideas. 

3. You're frank with your ideas.

You love coming up with ideas — if you didn't, you wouldn't share them with others. But you're also aware that you're not always right. No plan is perfect, and you can acknowledge that. So you make sure to weigh the pros and cons and let others in on the potential risks, pitfalls and downsides of your ideas, too. But you don't just stop there. You always make sure to share the ways you'll navigate inevitable challenges. Because, like the leader you are, you've exhausted all possibilities and thought through everything extensively.

4. You're optimistic yet realistic.

You're a positive person with big visions for your team and company. You always share your positive ideas, you try to put positive spins on situations and you always conclude conversations in a positive light. But it's not because you're blissfully unaware of how south things can go. You fully realize that plans can and often do go awry. You're realistic, set feasible goals and always have a Plan B to navigate novel situations. But you know that, if you don't believe in the vision, no one else will either. So, you lead with optimism.

5. You're not afraid to go first.

Leaders are brave. You take a stance, even if it's not the popular opinion but you believe it in your heart to be the right decision. In fact, even if you're not an expert, but you speak with conviction, you know that people will likely believe you. Science even proves that people prefer cockiness to expertise. So when you think your ideas are right, you convey them as fact. You don't ever say, "I think..." but, instead, "I feel..." And you're not afraid to be the first to feel aloud.

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AnnaMarie Houlis is a multimedia journalist and an adventure aficionado with a keen cultural curiosity and an affinity for solo travel. She's an editor by day and a travel blogger at HerReport.org by night.

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