Leveraging strengths and transforming weaknesses into opportunities is only part of the equation, DeLapa said. But it's a very important part. Because in doing those things, you are better equipping yourself to lead.
When you know what you do well and then build a network of professional and personal mentors to help you grow further, you can better identify your voice and build the confidence you need let that voice—and ideas and opinions—be heard.
It can be hard, sometimes, to recognize that the ideas and opinions we have are worth voicing, but they should be voiced with confidence, authority and assertiveness.
"Assertive is a big word, a lot of people think you are just showing off or that you are just trying to push your way through, but it is important," DeLapa said. "It is important that you understand what you are saying and that you want your right message to go there."
DeLapa also noted that speaking up and speaking confidently means knowing what you're talking about. It means, she said, "know(ing) your stuff." Doing the right research and ensuring you have the right understanding of a given situation before speaking up will help you garner respect from your colleagues and let your leadership qualities shine.
And when it comes to speaking up, you don't always have to use words. Leadership is something that is modeled as much—if not more so—as spoken words.
"You don't need a leadership title to be considered a leader, there are all kinds of leaders out there," DeLapa said. "They don't necessarily have to be a vice president, right? Somebody that answers the phones can still be a leader. They can come up with answers, they can offer new ideas on how things can be better for that company, whatever it might be."
Leadership, also, is modeled in the willingness to do, try or learn something new. And that means leaning into the strengths you have and confidently seeking out new opportunities for growth.
"Don't be afraid to ask for a raise or promotion," DeLapa said. "How many people are shy about that? I can tell you it works, I have done it a few times where I have said, 'I want that role. I want to move up there.' It really works, and if you have been showing your leadership along the way, it is much easier to be able to do that."