“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” – John Maxwell
Leadership is indispensable to all kinds of organizations- business, educational, political, cultural and others, even the ones that ultimately fail. Whether you are an employee, marketing manager, director, teacher or a student, it doesn’t matter – you can be a leader. Leadership is not about your position; it is about your disposition. It’s also not about any title that you may hold; rather, it’s what you have inside you that makes you a leader. Leadership skills are all about inspiring and igniting the flame of passion and purpose in everyone you come across by enabling and empowering them to lead their lives.
Now, if you are running an organization, you learn leadership skills on the go as you juggle your staff, clients, suppliers and the red tape. That way, you are already a leader. But what if you want to elevate your leadership skills to the next level? Try out the following 15 Tips to cultivate better leadership skills in order to take your leadership to a whole new level and dimension:
Sense of purpose
The purpose of our life is to have a life of purpose. Having a purpose gives a sense of direction and momentum to you, a group or an organization. In short, if you don’t know where you want to land, you will never get there.
Among the qualities of effective leaders, this one takes the cake. A responsible leader always plans, prepares and performs all his tasks with a certain purpose in mind and feels it their responsibility to ignite the sense of purpose within the team members, too. People want to know what they are doing has a meaning and a purpose behind it. They love to know how their task is contributing to organizational progress. Striking an authoritative tone and withholding such information shows the weakness of leadership, not its strength.
Never stop learning
What flows, remains fresh and flourishing, what stops, dies.
Savvy professionals harness all possible opportunities to acquire new knowledge and skills. As technology continues to transform our society at a rapid pace, your company’s business, too, constantly changes. To maintain your marketability and your skill sets, find training and career development opportunities in line with organizational goals and needs.
Great leaders always seek to become more and better than what they are. They are always open to learn from their team and others about their failures, successes and everything else that gives them an opportunity to learn. To this end, they set up effective feedback systems for employees, vendors and others to keep a tab on how they are doing. They are ready to get trained and consider learning their constant companion.
Leadership skills demand that you attend workshops, webinars, and online certification programmes on the topics and skills you’d like to know more about. With so many helpful resources available online and offline, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t tighten your grasp on subjects that could make you a better manager.
Besides, reaching out to your team allows you to learn from them. If you’re trying to run an IT project with little IT knowledge, it may be helpful to sit in on their process and learn more about how they complete tasks. It can also give you a better idea of how your team manages their time.
Besides, don’t just review analytics. Actively seek feedback from your team, vendors, and your clients. Try to find new ways to improve the experience you offer.
HOT is HOT
NOT is NOT
Great leaders have the gift of authenticity i.e. they are who they are. People follow and support them because of what they are. They can cheat the entire world but not you.
So, to become a great leader, create an authentic picture of yourself in the eyes of people around you. Authentic leadership comes from your being, self-awareness and transparency. Nurture honesty and all positive possibilities within you to evoke the respect, credibility and respect so crucial to a leader’s continued existence.
It is NOT about YOU
Why you follow anyone is because you see something for you there. Be they blogs, people or the lifestyles you follow, they always share or show things you need in your life.
Great leaders keep track of all about their followers and team members by building a culture of inclusiveness. They are more “WE”-type than ME-type and devote their time, energy and resources to create value for team members and the world around them.
This slight change from “WIIFM” (what is in it for ME) to “WIIFW” (what is in it for WE) helps you function with greater intensity to emerge as a great leader.
Among the qualities of effective leaders, this one has commanded a lot of attention. We are living in times of great complexity and continually face an extreme information overload. And when information grows too complex, people tend to glaze over. Therefore, you must navigate the complexity, look for meaning, and come out with a clear message.
Among all popular leadership skills, this one has been given a very high level of importance. All great leaders, with a few exceptions, have been great public speakers. Effective communication lets you inform, motivate and convince your followers with ease. Therefore, try to invest time, energy and money in developing effective public speaking skills to impact the lives of those around you. The quality of your leadership is directly proportional to the quality of your communication skills.
Effective leaders don’t believe in delivering complex messages; instead, they distill and prioritize their messages to make it reach their destination. Most effective politicians have a knack for providing clear answers to very complex questions. Try to send a message so brief and clear that anyone can understand it. While writing email or reports, try to refine what you say and how you communicate it to maximize its impact.
Invite questions and check to ensure that they understand what you say. Hearing doesn’t equal understanding in many cases. People have different antennas. So, tune into their various communication styles and adapt yours to reach your people meaningfully.
Solution Seeker and Provider
Followers talk about problems while leaders seek and provide solutions.
A problem is a problem only as far as you see it as a problem. But the moment you look at a situation and try to find a solution to it, it turns into an opportunity for learning and growth. Great leaders see everything that comes their way as an opportunity to learn, serve and share. Remember, most great inventions have been made this way only. So to be an effective leader, be a solution seeker in life.
Ability to act
Nothing will work if you don’t.
A big dividing line between followers and leaders is that leaders take the desired actions instead of waiting for things to change. They have the courage and the foresight to take an initiative to bring about a change in themselves and in those around them. Anyone wanting to become a great leader needs to inculcate the ability to act in life.
Direct your people
Great leaders keep their directions simple. Synthesis and understanding will amount to nothing without the payoff resulting from action. Therefore, make your course of action easy to follow. And the fewer calls to action, the better it is for the followers.
While talking about the organization with your employees, do you radiate the natural confidence and the enthusiasm that a leader needs to have? Such optimism breeds more enthusiasm and fuels further growth and creativity. If you believe in the best outcomes, you can unleash unparalleled opportunities to make them happen in reality.
Take initiative, responsibility
If we list all the qualities of effective leaders, this one should rank among the top ones. Completing the tasks assigned to you meets your job description but leaders need to go beyond it. Try to constantly look for ways to simplify work processes or improve the bottom line. Try to take up projects because you saw the need and are willing to pitch in. Your proactivity shows others that you have the ability to lead.
Do not make excuses if you have sent a sensitive email to the wrong people. Apologize straight away and do whatever it takes to fix the thing. Taking responsibility demonstrates your maturity and leadership acumen.
As a team leader, the responsibility will always fall on your shoulders. Of course, you don’t bear the brunt of every problem that your organization faces. It’s important to ensure that you know who in your team is taking care of which task, and what their results bring to your team. It will allow you to know who to turn to in case of a misstep or to congratulate someone on a success.
Taking responsibility and following through on what you delegate shows your team that though you want everyone to work as a united front, you care for them as individuals and would like to push them to the best of their abilities. In addition, it can also allow for less frustration among your team as there can be no more playing the “blame game” as you know exactly who’s doing what.
Effective leaders anticipate what might go wrong and take steps to avoid it and think of solutions on their own and as a team. They don’t hand off difficult situations to others. Problem solving is an indispensable skill for a professional, but is particularly useful for people holding leadership positions, whom people look to for support and guidance quite often.
It’s perfectly alright and valid to enlist others’ support while executing complex or lengthy tasks. Effective leaders know when not to do it alone. Let’s say you’ve been charged with the year-end closing. Of course, you’ll need help coordinating the entire task with all sales teams and the accounting department. It will not only ease your burden but will also create a sense of participation and responsibility among your team members.
Most leaders don’t accept whatever they are offered since they know their worth and don’t shy away from asking more – respectfully and tactfully. If you are looking at a pay hike, don’t demand or threaten. Instead, explain why you deserve more money -maybe your role has evolved or you’ve earned more job skills since you were hired. And always come up with relevant facts and figures to support your case- sales numbers, leads, new clients etc.
A salient characteristic of an effective leader is the willingness to take initiatives to get the ball rolling on new projects and goals. Taking the initiative to bring about positive changes is a leadership essential. To make it happen, you need to gather your entire team to properly communicate and delegate tasks like a leader should.
You would also like to show your staff that you really are committed to the goal you want them to achieve. Creating task schedules and having regular checks on projects not only shows that you care and are thoroughly involved, but also evokes a level of respect and attentiveness from employees that breeds enthusiasm, accountability and ramps up productivity.
Besides, successful leaders know the importance of cultivating relationships and contacts. The try to know their team members personally and on social media. So, attend office parties, company picnics and social events. With better social visibility, you can improve your chances of getting recommendations for promotions and new projects.
- Embrace challenges and learning
A true leader embraces every challenge, hardship and criticism that comes their way. Embracing challenges makes you a leader because it shows a brave face in the midst of adversities. It allows your staff to see that challenges are nothing but certain things to tackle so as to achieve the results you want.
Accepting any criticism gracefully is another form of bravery. If you can take constructive feedback from outside and within your team and work on it to bring about a positive change, you are on your way to true leadership. Accepting the challenges that come your way and turning them into growth opportunities tells your team that you have what it takes to become a top-notch leader.
Besides, it’s important to recognize the gaps in your current knowledge (after all, you are not a know-all, are you?), find a domain expert and learn from them. Learning from others isn’t the sign of bad leadership, in fact, it’s just the opposite. So, always be ready to learn and grow to create a great example for your team.