Whether you want to lead a business, a department a team, or achieve your own personal goals, effective leadership is a crucial trait to develop. Degrees, professional certifications and experience all contribute to success but without leadership skills you will truly limit your career path. Whatever your position, leading well will cause your colleagues to take notice and will build respect for you among your teammates and managers. We’ve got some tips to help you improve your leadership skills.
Discipline is vital to effective leadership. To inspire others to follow your lead and practice discipline themselves, you must demonstrate discipline in both your personal and professional life. If you know you are naturally disorganized, start small with little tasks around the house like getting daily exercise, waking up early, and maintaining a schedule. Once you’ve had success with these tasks, move on to work projects.
Planning to achieve deadlines, keeping appointments, running timely and effective meetings all contribute very positively to how your co-workers view you. And, they will likely cause your managers to see you as someone who can move ahead in the organization.
Develop situational awareness
Learn to read the team, the audience and the situation and you will also learn to develop a plan that identifies and addresses problems that impede progress toward goals. Understand the details but also keep the big picture in mind and you will gain skills in accomplishing complex projects on time.
You must remain current on trends in the markets, what your competitors are doing and what is happening in the industry. If you respond quickly to unexpected situations through preparation, you will likely avert issues that could stall or damage the project at hand.
Empower your teammates
Study your own strengths and weaknesses and become an expert on the strengths and weaknesses of your team. Assign projects that use the strength of co-workers and you will assemble a diverse and powerful team. Never let problems fester, address them directly and productively and constructively to find a solution. Trust your team to get the job done but be available when problems arise to process with the team in an open and non-judgmental forum.
Be a discerning communicator
Be the best listener on your team. Leading is not about dominating the conversation, it is about astute listening and comprehension so to craft the best plan possible. Be honest about your listening and communications skills, if you need to improve them take immediate action. The success of a great plan is dependent on communication and learning from your team with very active listening.
Being a good listener means you know communication is not only about words, but also non-verbal cues, such as eye contact and body language. When you’re interacting with customers, suppliers, and coworker’s day-in and day-out, focus on listening effectively and reading the room. This practice will show you exactly what is wrong with an organization’s processes, what is frustrating customers, and what competitors are doing to take business.
Arming yourself with honest and accurate information about the team and situation will also build your team’s strengths and make for improved decision-making.
Find professional resources
Understand the competencies, skills, abilities, and knowledge needed for success in your role and develop a plan to strengthen and expand those skills and competencies. Look beyond your current job description when developing this plan. Seek input from trusted colleagues and your managers and use their suggestions and constructive criticisms to expand and improve your plan.
Professional organizations and memberships can also be worthy investments of your time and resources. These organizations often offer industry events, conferences, workshops and other professional development opportunities, on-demand learning, newsletters, journals, webinars, and more. Because these activities can add value to your organization, you may even get help with costs by committing your time.
Exceptional leadership skills are about much more than being in charge. Leading requires listening, communication, effective planning and building a team that wants to follow your lead. Dedicating your time to assessing and improving your leadership skills will improve your personal and professional life as well as the performance of your team and your organization.