As a leader, there’s a delicate balance you have to strike between being one of the team and being the one on who leads it.
Regardless of what field you’re in, leadership is an important part of anyone’s career or business. Sometimes the difference between a failing company and a successful one are the people leading the charge.
There are plenty of resources out there that can help you develop leadership skills including leadership courses, executive development programs, executive coaching for women and more.
There are also plenty of things you can do on your own to expand and develop your leadership skills at work.
What are Leadership Skills?
Essentially, leadership is having the ability to unite and guide a team towards a shared goal. To do this, a leader must make sure their team is knowledgeable, efficient and co-operative. Leaders must be authoritative enough for people to follow their lead and take action.
Of course, this is harder than it sounds. As a leader, you will also need to be careful with being overly authoritative. Additionally, you’ll have to deal with your team’s different personalities and clashing egos. Thus, patience and empathy are also key aspects of leadership.
What is your Leadership Style?
To improve as a leader you need to understand your personal leadership style. Everyone has their own preferred approach. Some people prefer to lead by example, setting an implicit tone for others to follow. Other leaders create systems designed to guide and develop performance. Regardless of your approach, it’s important to be aware of your strengths and weaknesses. If you try to employ a leadership style that’s not suited to your strengths it can come off as inauthentic and unconvincing.
That said, it’s also important not to ignore your weaknesses. Some leaders feel that they have to hide their faults from their team. However, sweeping your weaknesses under the rug will only hinder your growth.
A good leader will also be able to adapt their style to suit the individuals or teams they are managing. Understanding what people need and tailoring your management style will help to get the best results from your people.
Once you understand your leadership strengths and weaknesses, you can work on developing and improving those skills. Here are a few fundamental leadership skills that every manager should be able to master.
- Offer to Help
As a leader, it’s your responsibility to make sure that everyone in your team is getting the support that they need.
If you want to be a good leader, start by offering help to your team. You can do this in a multitude of ways. For example, if a team member is inundated with work, see if you find a way to take some pressure off of them. You can do this by extending the deadline or even doing some of the work yourself. If you notice a co-worker not being their usual selves, see if you can find a way to raise their morale and get them back into the groove of things.
Directly offering help will allow you to build stronger working relationships with your team members. This, in turn, can lead to higher productivity.
- Lead by Example
Barking orders isn’t the only way (or best way) to influence and motivate your team. Research on transformational leaders suggests that acting out a task can inspire people more than simply talking about it.
Your team members will respect a leader who does the work themselves. If you roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty, your team members will most likely get motivated to do the same.
Additionally, if you actually do the things yourself, you’ll gain more experience making you a more knowledgeable leader.
- Understand other Departments
If you want to evolve as a leader, it’s important to have a holistic view of the company across departments.
Understanding what other departments do and how they work is essential for ensuring inter-departmental efficiency, cooperation and collaboration. Try to spend time with leaders from other departments to gather an understanding of how they work. This will help you to communicate better with other team leaders and staff across departments. Seeing how other departments work will also give you an idea of how to improve the processes and workflow of your own team.
Lastly, it will help you understand the place of your team within the company. You will understand how your work affects other departments and vice versa.
- Different management styles for different people
Take the time to understand each of your team members’ personalities and the management styles that they prefer.
For example, some people prefer to work independently. For these types of workers, micromanaging probably won’t sit well. On the other hand, some workers prefer to be directed through tasks to ensure they are on the right track.
Getting to know your team outside of work can also be beneficial. This can strengthen the bond that you have as co-workers and allow you to work together more effectively. If your team is under pressure, having that strong bond can be a lifesaver. There are plenty of workers out there who can endure tons of working hours simply because they feel they’re among friends.
- Always be Learning
Just because you’ve made it to a leadership position doesn’t mean your journey ends there. There is a lot to learn from other leaders, from your own team and even from interns. Of course, you can also be reading books, attending seminars and getting private coaching.
If you’re struggling to find things to improve on, try asking your team for feedback. This might not feel great, but it will help you identify your weaknesses. Ultimately, this will only make you a better leader.
Congratulations. You’ve finished the crash course on being a leader. Now it’s time to apply these tips at the office. If you require more help, there are many organisations that offer leadership courses and seminars. If they put in the time to learn, anyone can be a great leader.