Why become a leader? Why do people work to become better leaders? Great leadership usually receives respect. However, becoming a better leader garners more than just respect. Leadership guides teams, ensures success, and develops individuals. If your intention is to become a better leader, then your first move is to begin developing leadership skills.
The Benefits and Realities of Becoming a Better Leader
Fast Company differentiates the benefits and realities of leadership. For example, leaders determine organizational goals and create effective teams. The reality of these leadership benefits is the ability to meet established goals with a coordinated team. Moreover, leaders are able to teach leadership skills and styles to employees. As a result, excellent leaders are able to develop future leaders.
6 Steps in Developing Leadership Skills
There are many invaluable professional and interpersonal skills. But which ones make influential leaders? Here we outlined 6 steps in developing leadership skills:
1. Effective Communication
The best leaders communicate excellently. Communication isn’t about doling out orders to employees. Listening and observation skills are critical to effective communication. Further, Ruslan Fazlyev, CEO of Ecwid asserts that being genuine in all communication is key: “There are many leadership styles; there’s no right and wrong. But there’s genuine, and there’s fake. There’s no following to fake leadership.” As leaders communicate it’s important to build relationships through transparency. Steps towards transparent communication include voicing goals, intentions, and expectations.
“There are many leadership styles; there’s no right and wrong. But there’s genuine, and there’s fake. There’s no following to fake leadership.”
2. Analytical Observations
To understand strengths, you must be able to understand weaknesses. When becoming a better leader, it’s vital to analyze areas of improvement. Not sure where to start? Ask peers to identify any blind spots you may have when it comes to your own professional and interpersonal skills.
Once you are aware of your weaknesses, you’ll be more apt in developing leadership skills of others. Analytical skills can be directly applied to those around you. John Brandon summarizes this in his Inc. article, 20 Ways to Become a Better Leader Right Now. “It takes time to collect information, and there’s a sense in leadership that you need to move quickly,” Brandon states. “We are paid to respond and act, not to sit back and wait for someone else to solve problems.”
“We are paid to respond and act, not to sit back and wait for someone else to solve problems.”
3. Creative Thinking
The most influential leaders are innovative and creative. The adage “think outside the box” may be overused, but it’s applicable in terms of how leaders approach challenges. Creative thinking is a huge component in becoming a better problem solver. Find a mentor that complements your leadership style and strengths. A mentor will offer a different perspective and can pinpoint your shortfalls in developing leadership skills.
Creative thinking should be extended to and encouraged for all team members. Communicate that you are open to new or off-the-wall ideas through with brainstorming sessions. Celebrate an employee’s creativity when applied in problem-solving.
4. Emotional Intelligence
In the journey to becoming a better leader, most people are left wondering where to begin. When developing leadership skills personality tests are a great starting point. Personality tests determine leadership style and provide insight into how you cope with challenges and individuals. If a goal in the future becomes assessing personalities team-wide, Rebecca Callahan of Hogan Assessments discusses how to successfully implement and integrate personality tests in this free webinar.
Personality tests also reveal a lot about emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize, analyze, and control emotions. Lifehack summarizes emotional intelligence as the level of ability to be self-aware, self-manage, and empathetic while still providing motivation and relating to others as part of a team. Leaders who are emotionally intelligent are better able to guide teams, negotiate conflict, and react when faced with unexpected obstacles.
Further, personality assessments can lead to heightened awareness of the benefits of diversity. Likewise, such insight improves the interactions between different personalities.
5. Team Collaboration
A leader can’t exist without followers. Like when choosing mentors, leaders should look to build a team of employees who complement their skills. A team of strong, assorted talent is more balanced and prepared to tackle challenges. Additionally, team collaboration is a great start to gain team trust.
Great leaders demonstrate enthusiasm and flexibility when working with others. Likewise, working side-by-side with others is how leaders learn from their team. Team members can share their knowledge and voice their opinions. As a result, team members feel valued when collaborating together towards a common goal. Team collaboration serves as an opportunity to sharpen everyone’s communication abilities.
6. Decision Making
Leaders are tasked with decisions every day. Decision making can’t be overlooked when developing leadership skills. Conflicts handled in real-time demonstrate a leader’s strength and knowledge. Keep in mind that decision making isn’t always tied to conflict. Instead, leaders are often tasked with delegating responsibilities to team members. Just remember leaders serve as role models. The decisions you make are always under close watch.