It’s just a fact that if you want to advance in the workplace, you’re going to have to develop your leadership skills. Senior leaders are always looking out for those people who inspire others to naturally follow them. That’s the kind of employee that moves up and is given more responsibility. Thankfully, leadership skills are something that can be learned and refined over time, even before you are given a leadership or management position. To start, you have to ask yourself: what are the qualities of an excellent leader and how can you develop them yourself?
1) Lead by example
When it comes to being a good leader, authenticity is key. One of the major differences between just being a “boss” and being a “leader” is leading by example. If you expect your team to complete projects on time, you had better be prepared to do the same.
Bosses who say one thing but do another generally aren’t as respected by their employees. How you can trust someone who expects less from themselves than they do from others? Your employees are watching you carefully so when it comes to being an effective leader, you have to “walk the walk”. If you go above and beyond the call of duty, odds are that your employees will as well.
Setting an example goes beyond just good work ethic. As a leader, your behavior influences the entire culture of the workplace. If you radiate positivity and promote a hopeful outlook in the office, your employees will adopt this point of view as well.
Have passion for your job because enthusiasm is infectious! Know that if you want others to respect you, you have to respect them. Figure out their individual strengths and abilities and how best to utilize them in the office.
Good leadership boils down to being a role model. If people look up to you, they will want to follow you.
2) Be a good citizen
Leadership goes far beyond just what happens at work. The best leaders are also leaders in their communities. They want to make a difference in a positive way.
Volunteer work can also be an excellent way to refine your leadership skills before being assigned a leadership role at work. It will occur in a different field than your job, and you will be working with a number of different people from completely different backgrounds; this opens you up to new developmental experiences. Look for a cause that you feel passionate about. That natural passion you feel can inspire others to work just as hard as you.
Be prepared to start at the bottom—you can’t expect to just walk in the door and have leadership thrust upon you. Look for opportunities to take leaderships positions by offering to organize events or spearhead initiatives. If you’re involved in a social organization, you could suggest starting a support network for women in difficult situations.
Volunteer organizations usually operate with fewer resources than a business and can teach you the value of how to do more with less. Remember that leadership skills are transferable and experience gained in the volunteer sector can easily be applied in a business environment.
3) See the big picture
Demonstrate your ability to think and see things broadly. When many people are given a task, that’s often the only thing they think about. They work hard, finish that single task, and then take on the next individual task. This can be characteristic of an excellent worker, but that’s as far as it often goes. On the other hand, a leader sees beyond the immediate task and looks towards the future.
When you broaden your scope and look at the big picture, you can see how the collective work of every individual contributes to the overall success of a project. You’ll see that your team is one of many, all of which are working towards a common goal.
As a leader, you should learn as much as you can about your company and how it works. Know the market your business is competing in and keep informed about any new developments that could affect your company somewhere down the line.
A leader needs to expand their world view beyond just the office environment. In other words, a leader needs to be able to see the big picture!
4) Mentor junior employees
Do you remember what it was like when you first got your job? For many people, starting a new job can be overwhelming. There are so many new people to meet and rules to learn. You need to adapt to the corporate culture and figure out the way people do things in the office. And, on top of all that, you have to learn how to do your job. How much easier would it have been if you had someone with more experience helping you out?
Mentorship and leadership are similar in a number of ways. As a mentor, you show new employees and juniors how things work, you teach by example, and you offer advice when they need it. The bond that can be forged between a mentor and a young employee is similar to the bond that can be forged between an excellent boss and their employees.
As a mentor and a leader, it isn’t just your job to tell people what to do. You provide direction, offer help, and guide your employees to put in the best work they can.
5) Communicate to influence
The most effective leaders in history could shape events and influence thousands of people with nothing more than words. Being able to communicate your ideas and influence people to follow you is an essential part of being a leader. If no one is listening to you, how can they follow you?
There are many ways to persuade people to do what is best. There are negative methods like yelling, threatening, or pestering someone until they do what you want them to just to keep you quiet. Needless to say, these are not effective methods of leadership and communication! Your team should want to do what you ask them because they respect you and you respect them.
The art of influencing people is something that must be practised. Start with low impact situations; maybe try to convince your friends to go to a particular restaurant or to read a book you enjoyed. What tactics do you naturally employee to get people on your side? If you know what your strengths and weakness are as a communicator, you can work to improve your skills.
An effective communicator should be able to read other people. It’s important to get a sense of what kind of person you are dealing with and what the best tactic could be to influence them. Some people respond to logical, well thought-out arguments while others are convinced by emotion and passion. Work to improve your communication skills every chance that you get and soon you’ll be influencing people without even realizing it.
Develop your leadership skills and you will certainly find more advancement in your career. Leadership skills can be learned, fine tuned, and honed to achieve the results that you want. Practice the 5 tactics outlined here, and you’ll be sure to set yourself up as a leader in your organization.