DEVELOPING LEADERSHIP SKILLS
"Good leaders are made - not born. If you have the desire and willpower, you can become an effective leader. Good leaders develop through a never ending process of self-study, education, training, and experience."
"Leadership is a critical management skill, is the ability to motivate a group of people toward a common goal."
Leadership is critical in today's world. Leaders will have greater opportunities in the job market and in life in general. You don't have to become a CEO, a general manager, or a school principal to incorporate leadership skills. You will need these skills every day of your life, in some form or other.
To inspire others to work as team-players, there are certain things you must be, know, and do. These do not come naturally, but are acquired through continual work and study. Good leaders are continually working and studying to improve their leadership skills.
What is Leadership?
Before we talk about "leadership skills" let's define "leadership."
Leadership is vision, knowledge, drive, confidence, optimism, openness, humanity, and caring. It is direction and guidance that inspires dedication, confidence, and achievement. It is required to inspire and bring out the best in people, and to give them the courage to survive the tough times.
Leadership is a process by which a person influences and motivates others to accomplish an objective, and directs an organization in a way that makes it more cohesive and coherent (unified, connected, and harmonious). We could define leadership as a quality that an individual possesses - an ability to guide or direct others to achieve a common goal. Leadership is considered a "management skill;" but is more than a management skill.
A leader must inspire others. A leader should instill passion and direction to an individual or group of individuals, using psychology to affect that group either consciously or subconsciously.
So, leadership is the ability to inspire, empower, and instill passion in others. The ability to guide and direct (lead) others. The ability to motivate others toward a common goal.
"Leadership is vision, knowledge, drive, confidence, optimism, openness, humanity, and caring. It is direction and guidance that inspires dedication, confidence, and achievement. It is required to inspire and bring out the best in people, and to give them the courage to survive the tough times."
"Leadership is influencing people - by providing purpose, direction, and motivation - while operating to accomplish the mission and improving the organization."
People in leadership positions don't become leaders overnight. Even so-called "born" leaders don't start out possessing leadership skills. Leadership skills are learned and developed over time. The important thing is to be committed to learn these skills to be able to become strong leaders.
Managers, supervisors, officers, etc. are not necessarily leaders. You only become a leader when you practice leadership skills and learn to motivate and inspire others to accomplish a "common goal." Although your position as a manager, supervisor, officer, etc. gives you the authority to accomplish certain tasks and objectives in an organization, this power does not make you a leader...it simply makes you the boss. Leaders want to achieve high goals, rather than simply bossing people around.
To be a strong leader, you need to develop the following "basic skills":
Leaders have a clear sense of where they want to go and how they intend to get there. They see the big picture, then create a strategic plan for achieving their goals. They also communicate a "vision."
~ Learn to develop your vision.
Leaders aren't afraid to make difficult or unpopular decisions because they have confidence in themselves and in their abilities. They know that indecision wastes resources and opportunities. Leaders solve problems and make sound and timely decisions.
~ Learn to make important decisions.
Leaders manage their time effectively and efficiently always setting priorities and not wasting their time. Leaders learn to find balance in their lives and to make time for what matters.
~ Learn to manage your time.
Leaders have the courage to act in situations where results aren't assured. They're willing to risk failure - take a chance. Leaders dare to take a stand and to take chances. Leaders grow by making mistakes. Don’t expect perfection – no one is perfect.
~ Learn to take risks, to take chances.
Leaders can articulate their vision and ideals to others, convincing them of the value of their ideas. They can inspire people to work toward common goals and to achieve things they never thought they could do. Listen carefully to others to learn what motivates them and to teach them that their work contributes to a larger goal.
~ Learn to motivate people.
Leaders create productive teams that draw the best from people. They effectively coach teams in collaboration, consensus building, and conflict resolution. They inspire "teamwork."
~ Learn how to improve your teambuilding skills and how to become a team-player.
Leaders know their own strengths and weaknesses and are able to view their behavior objectively. They recognize their shortcomings, open themselves to feedback, and are willing to make changes when necessary. Ask others for their opinions or criticisms and what you can do to become a better leader.
~ Learn how to expand your self-knowledge.
Leaders must be trustworthy before others will follow them. Others have to trust you and you have to earn their trust. You have to give a good example at all times. Leaders know who they are and what they value. Nothing gives you more confidence than knowing you operate from a place of integrity. You are valuable and worthy and strong in your convictions. Integrity is self worth.
~ Learn to assess your integrity.
Pursue Lifelong Learning
Leaders have a desire to continually learn and grow and are open to new ideas. Leaders are open-minded. Leaders challenge themselves. They don't give up easily.
~ Learn how to expand your knowledge.
Leaders can convey their ideas to diverse individuals and adjust their styles to meet the needs of the people they lead. Leaders have excellent communication skills and are good listeners.
~ Learn how to improve your communication skills.
Help Others Succeed
Leaders empower others and go out of their way to help them achieve their full potential, thereby benefiting the organization. When others are happy and motivated (your employees, your club, organization or team members…) they will work together to achieve success in your organization.
~ Learn to give a boost to others.
Leaders make a difference…
A leader is a person who sees something that needs to be done, knows that they can help make it happen, and does it - with the help of others. A leader has initiative. Too many people sit around waiting for things to happen… a leader doesn't wait, a leader does - takes action.
A good leader is creative. You have to find creative ways to motivate others.
A good leader has discipline - self-discipline.
A good leader has confidence in herself and her abilities.
A good leader makes a difference in the lives of others.
A good leader is a good listener, and a good communicator.
A good leader is valued and valuable.
A good leader is kind and patient - tolerant and considerate.
A good leader has a positive attitude.
A good leader is passionate and enthusiastic.
A good leader sets a good example and does what is right no matter what.
A good leader knows that people who believe in themselves will do more work and better work.
A good leader identifies the gifts, strengths and limitations of those she leads; then assigns, trains, encourages and gets out of the way.
You can do it!
You may say: It's impossible to acquire all these skills, I'm not super-human.
Well, you don't have to develop all of these characteristics at once to be a good leader; but you have to be willing to learn and develop new skills every day. This is just a start. It is really a life-long process.
Challenge yourself, believe in yourself!
Leadership matters! It matters because leaders make a difference and can shape the future. In everyone's mind leadership, when it is good, matters!
Leadership is about potential - your potential.
You can be a great leader…
It's Up to You!
"It is never easy to stick to your principles, stay focused on your goals, and not let yourself get discouraged at times, but that's exactly what it takes to be a leader. Those that succeed always believe in themselves. However, the most successful leaders also balance a healthy belief in themselves - with a humbleness that doesn't let success go to their heads, inflate their egos, or make them overly self-important - the downfall of many successful leaders."
~ Robert Nix
"The fact is every leader and business will face negativity... That is why one of the most important things we can do in business and life is to stay positive with strategies that turn negative energy into positive solutions."
~ Jon Gordon
To Review the different types of "Leadership Styles" go to www.TeensSelfHelp.com/LeadershipStyles.html.
To read a beautiful article by Jim Dreaver about "Enlightened Leadership" go to www.TeensSelfHelp.com/EnlightenedLeadership.html. To check the book "On Becoming a Leader" by Warren G. Bennis go to www.books.google.com/books/on becoming a leader.htm. To check the Leadership and Influence Blog (LeadershipAndInfluenceBlog.com) - check the 10 Traits of Effective Leaders and other great entries.
I also highly recommend the Teleos Leadership Institute's Website at www.teleosleaders.com. The Teleos Leadership Institute is a global consulting firm that was founded in 2002 by Dr. Annie McKee and Dr. Frances Johnston. Teleos partners with CEOs, senior teams, Boards of Directors, government agencies and NGOs to move the leaders who move the world. Its advisors and consultants include world-renowned experts and bestselling authors in emotional intelligence, organization change, and group dynamics.