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7 ways to improve leadership skills
Powerful strategies for developing leadership skills
You’re the boss of a company. Lately you’ve noticed that the work is being completed at a steady pace, but you’re noticing a lack of enthusiasm from your team. What do you do? Your first thought might be to talk to your employees. And even if productivity is at an all-time high, what are leadership skills going to accomplish in the long run if they dampen your team’s spirit? To truly understand leadership, the first conversation you must have is with yourself.
As a leader, you must look inward and focus on your own abilities and shortcomings. The ability to ask yourself how you can find ways to empower and inspire your team is one of the most genuine examples of leadership skills out there. There are many ways to turn the conversation inward and focus on developing leadership skills.
What are leadership skills?
A broad definition of leadership focuses on the ability to inspire and organize other people to achieve a shared goal, typically on a schedule. Leadership skills are important in any organization, since they facilitate strong teams and the ability to get tasks done efficiently. Since this is an all-encompassing definition, your leadership skill set might differ from your colleague’s. You might demonstrate “soft” leadership skills like patience, empathy and deep listening while your colleague demonstrates strengths in risk-taking and decision-making. Whatever your natural strengths are, developing leadership skills that align with those aptitudes is your ticket to greater effectiveness on the job.
Developing leadership skills
Developing leadership skills is one of the most powerful moves you can make to transform your professional and personal life. It’s an empowering process of harnessing your natural talents to inspire others. As you work on developing leadership skills, you become more attuned to your strengths and weaknesses, which creates self-awareness and the ability to relate to others.
Increasing your capacity as a leader requires asking yourself three questions:
What is my leadership style?
Understanding your leadership style opens the door for building managerial skills in harmony with your true nature. Is your leadership approach democratic, visionary, coaching, affiliative, pacesetting or commanding? With a sense of where you fall in these categories, you’re better equipped to develop leadership skills.
What are my weak spots?
What are leadership skills going to accomplish without a roadmap for improving on your weaknesses? Be honest in your self-examination. Are you empathetic to others’ needs and feelings or do you focus solely on your own? Do you work to bring out the best in others, or do you dominate others? Are you confident in your decision-making abilities or are you plagued with self-doubt? When you know what your weaknesses are, you know where to start addressing them.
What is my leadership style?
With a clear idea of your strengths and weaknesses, you’re ready to take action by making a game plan aligned with your leadership style. If you identified a lack of confidence as a weakness, take steps to build self-confidence. If you identified poor communication as a weakness, start practicing effective communication techniques. With practice, you’ll begin to embody examples of leadership skills to facilitate success in any endeavor.
Examples of leadership skills
The following examples of leadership skills encapsulate outcomes that will help you become the most effective leader you can be.
1. Be passionate
No one wants to seek counsel from someone who doesn’t care about the topic as much or more than they do. Passion is effort; passion is exertion. Passion is never giving up. Without it, you cease innovating and stagnate. When you display authentic enthusiasm and passion for the end result, your people will keep working to achieve their goals.
Employees respond to those who are eager to help them learn and grow. Show passion for everything you do, including in your efforts at developing leadership skills. Your desire will be clear to your employees, and inspire them to improve leadership skills, too.
2. Model great leadership for others
What are leadership skills going to accomplish if they don’t inspire others to action? Not much. People respect someone who walks the walk. Research supports this statement; a core characteristic of transformational leaders is the ability to be a role model. One of the most powerful examples of leadership skills is showing those around you exactly what you’d like to see them do. Don’t waver on this. The strongest message you can send to your team is to model the behaviors you’d like to see. “If they can do this,” your team will think, “So can I.”
3. Understand your strengths and use them
No leader is born with everything necessary to succeed. Developing leadership skills takes time and effort, and it begins with a thorough examination of your strengths and weaknesses. A strong knowledge of your innate gifts and abilities means you can put them to work for you, while an understanding of your weaknesses provides you with areas you know you can improve. Addressing your shortcomings leads to true growth. You become strong enough to not only ask “What are leadership skills?” but also the pivotal question of “What are my leadership skills?”
4. Set concrete goals and execute them
Even the most formidable leaders don’t come up with success out of nowhere. The grandest vision will never get off the ground if you don’t plot a path to get there. When you’re developing leadership skills, invest time in clarifying your goals and solidifying them. Formulating the right plan and setting meaningful benchmarks along the way gives you a map to follow, a methodology that will guide your business through the next week, month, year and decade. Once you achieve a particular goal, look toward another; constant striving to meet that next benchmark will give you and your employees a sense of meaning and pride. As you make progress on your goals, the examples of leadership skills you embody will speak volumes about your tenacity in realizing your business vision.
5. Admit when you fail and move on
What are leadership skills – does being an effective leader mean never making mistakes? Even the most powerful, inspiring leaders make mistakes. When you recognize an error, admit it openly and take action to correct it. Be open about your failures; discuss them with yourself and with your team. Learn from them. Ask yourself and your team, “How can I avoid making this mistake in the future?” Learning from your failures sends a powerful message to those around you. They understand that you will lead well even when you make a mistake. Those wondering how to improve leadership skills should learn how to recognize successes and failures.
6. Inspire others
If you’re complaining about every little detail and can only see the worst-case scenario at the end of every plan, you have little chance of inspiring others. Inspiration is an extension of belief; if you say, “No, that won’t work” or “why bother?” to an employee, you’re signaling to them that you do not believe in their idea, in them or even in the business itself. An employee who feels you do not believe in them will not perform well, and can even create a domino effect of poor morale across the business. Instead, believe in others and what they are capable of. Inspire them to work harder and reach greater heights. Developing leadership skills throughout your business by generating and focusing positive energy, even when things aren’t going according to plan, is the secret to sustained growth.
7. Find your higher purpose
When developing leadership skills, it’s essential that you know why you’re putting time and effort into your chosen goal. What drives you? Your immediate response may be straightforward: a larger paycheck from a job well done or the prestige that comes from higher rank. But step back for a moment. Why do you want that larger paycheck? Is it so your family feels more secure? Perhaps you want to lead because you feel you can help others by developing products and services that they need, or you see a place where you can cause positive change in your industry. These are all higher purposes, and by identifying your own, you can better operate as a confident, knowledgeable and empowering leader for others.
As you hone your effectiveness as a leader in your own life – whether that’s in a professional or personal capacity – you’ll strengthen the efforts you put into your own goals. Those around you will see the hard work and passion you bring to the table each day, stirring them work on developing leadership skills, too.
Developing leadership skills is one of the most powerful steps you can take for your career. Discover the driving force that inspires you to become the best leader you can be.
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