Surprisingly, most people believe good leaders are rare and hard to come across. That shouldn’t be the case. Whilst many people fail to become leaders, it’s often due to their lack of training and knowledge of the responsibility that comes with the role of being a great leader.
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Whether you’re looking to apply for a new position or are already a leader within your organization, throughout this article, we explore the benefits of being a great leader and 5 ways you can enhance your skills. But let’s first understand the reasons why leadership skills are important.
Why are leadership skills beneficial?
We’ve all witnessed bad leadership in our lifetime, and we’ve all worked with a team where the management just knew exactly what they were doing. Being a good leader is more than having a good degree and experience, it’s all about the skills people possess that help them make teams thrive. Many benefits are associated with good leadership, such as:
- Improved employee morale
- Higher chance of promotion
- More innovative working environments
- Increased engagement
- Positive work culture
- Improved communication across the team
- Enhanced employee retention
Those are just some of the incredible benefits that happen when a good leader is in place. And for that matter, it’s so important that as a leader you take the time to develop your skills and knowledge to ensure you’re a great leader for your team.
What skills does a good leader possess?
There are different types of leadership theories which definitely reflect the type of leader one is or can be. However, the common ground becomes the leadership skills that any leader possesses. As discussed, some impressive benefits come with being a good leader, for both the organization and yourself. But what skills do you need to be a great leader? Listed below are some soft leadership skills examples:
- Strategic thinking
- Time management
- Change management
Whilst these are some core skills needed when it comes to leadership, there are several other skills you need to possess if you want to foster engagement in your team. This section details 5 ways in which you can learn new skills and also refresh your existing abilities.
1. Take part in leadership courses and workshops
When it comes to improving leadership, it’s all about improving the skills that make a great leader. The skills that are considered advantageous for leaders to have are often soft skills instead of hard skills.
Many of the skills associated with leadership are those which can be effectively learnt through the use of courses and workshops. Whatever skill you’re looking to develop, there's a course out there suited to your needs and wants. From learning how to communicate more effectively or enhancing your negotiation skills, with a quick google search, you’re more than likely to find a course suited to you.
Whilst these courses are typically on the more expensive side, there are many options suitable to everyone's budget. Remember, many organizations are looking to invest in their employees, so it’s always a good idea to ask if they would be willing to give you a professional development budget to help ease the cost of learning.
2. Find a mentor
One of the best ways to learn something is to learn from someone who has already done it. Mentors are highly beneficial no matter if you’re looking to develop professionally, personally, or both. Mentors work alongside their mentees to guide and support them on their journey to achieve their goals.
Often, mentors have been in the same position as their mentees and understand what needs to be done to get where they want to be. Mentors frequently come with years of experience and knowledge that they are willing to share with their mentees to help them develop and grow.
One of the main benefits of mentoring relationships is their ability to help others to learn and refresh skills, with a recent statistic showcasing that 87% of mentors and mentees believe that their mentoring relationship can help them develop a better sense of confidence, something incredibly important when stepping into a leadership position.
Whether your organization already has a mentoring programme in place or you need to manually search for the right mentor for you, many options can be chosen, from the method of mentoring to the location of the sessions. Finding a mentor may seem like a challenging task, but the long-term advantages are completely worth it.
3. Review your strengths and weaknesses
When it comes to being a great leader, it’s best for one to understand and recognise their strengths and weaknesses. We’re all human, no one is perfect at everything, but being able to determine where we’re currently doing well and where we can improve, is always a great starting point. You don’t need to be strong at every skill, for example, you may be great at listening but lack time management, but this shouldn’t stop you from evolving yourself.
There are many ways to review your strengths and weaknesses, including the infamous SWOT method, which is a framework used for assessing strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, to create a strategic plan to help you overcome any hurdles that you may face in the future.
Finding your strengths and weaknesses gives you a huge advantage in not only being a leader, but also in learning the skills you need to thrive in your position. When you truly understand and can identify yourself, you set yourself up for success by being able to focus on the tasks that are of higher priority. We also suggest asking those around you, whether that be team members or family members, to help you when you do this, as they can help you uncover any ‘blind spots’ you may be missing.
4. Get some honest feedback
Get feedback, then get more feedback. When it comes to being a leader, it’s not just about you, but how you adjust to the people around you. Effective communication and receiving honest feedback is a great way to improve leadership skills and gain a true perspective of how you manage your team. Everyone can benefit from feedback. It provides us with what we need to go forward in our careers and lives.
Leadership is all about discovering ways to improve things, including how you effectively lead the team and that can happen through strategic communication. Take the time to speak to those in your team, and understand how you can run things with ease. Whilst, it’s important to speak to those in your team because after all, they are the ones who you will be leading, it’s also important to speak to those more senior in the workplace and close friends, as they are more likely to give you honest feedback. Members of your team may feel intimidated or worried about their job security if they are being honest about how they feel, however, speaking to seniors or your friends will greatly reduce any chances of bias.
5. Set clear and actionable goals
One of the main responsibilities for a leader is to support and assist in a team's development, but it’s vital to always set goals of your own. You need to make sure that as a leader you set clear and actionable goals to help assist you on your journey to not only develop your skill set but to support your development.
Setting clear and actionable goals, helps you prioritise and establish what needs to be done for you to be where you want to be. When your own developmental needs are met, it makes you a much greater leader in the grand scheme of things. Setting goals helps you acutely and effectively measure your success, allowing you to achieve milestones and objectives.
Whether you’re looking to set a goal to improve your creativity skills or want to improve the number of team members who come to you for feedback, setting these goals gives you metrics that you can track.
Like anything in life, being a leader comes with its challenges, but being a great leader is something we should all strive to be. From learning new skills to running a team, leadership isn’t an easy process, but the benefits make it worth it every time.
We hope this article was able to give you some ideas on how you can truly thrive as a leader, helping you achieve your goals and providing you with the solutions you need to get started. Remember, listen to your team members and take feedback from those around you.