Leadership: Developing Leadership Skills

You are sure to be a member of a team of some kind – family, college, a college Department, Administration, Marketing, Planning, Projects, Sports, Dance troupe, Orchestra, etc. And you may be working in an organization or running your own company. In any case, you will need to take up some leadership roles. The good thing is that you can develop the skill.

Learning to be a good leader is important to succeed.

 

Here are a few strategies you can start with:

  • Communicate effectively.

Effective communication is a dialogue. Barriers are created by using excessive authority, focusing on winning the argument and/or reacting defensively to criticism.

Try these steps to effective communication:

  • Listen actively and ask open questions. Be genuinely interested in what others say.
  • Thank people for their openness, even if you do not like what is being said.
  • Point to areas of agreement before jumping to areas of disagreement.
  • Set an atmosphere of collaboration & partnership.
  • Show disagreement as a difference of opinion. Get rid of the “I am right, you are wrong” attitude.
    • Encourage enthusiasm and a sense of belonging.
  • Be Friendly: others will be more willing to share ideas if you show interest in them.
  • Be Understanding: Try to be constructive, tolerant and tactful when offering criticism.
  • Be Fair: equal treatment and opportunity lead to good team effort.
  • Have Integrity: others will take tasks more seriously if you show that you are more interested in group goals than your own personal gain.
  • Take everyone along and work towards agreed upon goals:
  • Remind everyone of the group’s purposes from time to time.
  • Provide encouragement and motivation – show appreciation for good ideas and extra effort.
  • Harmonise differences and disagreements between group members – stress compromise and cooperation.
  • Involve everyone in discussions and decisions, even if it takes time.
  • Get to know the people around you

Everyone is different. They have different abilities, wants, and purpose in life. To get along with others, work towards a common goal and get results, you need to get to know them well.

  • It’s a good idea to interact with group members as often as possible. Make the effort to meet them one-on-one, as the only way to get to know someone is through direct personal contact.
  • Become familiar with every member of your group or circle. Understand and note each person’s unique qualities and characteristics and work build empathy and camaraderie.
  • Treat others as individuals

Put your knowledge and understanding of each group member to work!

  • Be aware of individual expectations. Everyone expects something different, someone craves for recognition, another a chance to learn, somebody else an opportunity to work with other people, etc.
  • Be creative. Routines can be boring and repetitious routines could make people disconnect from work and team members. A successful leader will be creative, think of new and better approaches to old ways of doing things. A good leader challenges and inspires herself and her team members.
  • Provide rewards. For many, recognition by the group is a source of personal satisfaction and positive reinforcement for a job well done. For quite a few people a kind word and acknowledgment of their efforts is enough reward.
  • Delegate responsibilities. It will involve everyone and if everyone shares the work, everyone can share pride in the group’s accomplishments. Inform each member about what is expected from them, the available resources, deadlines, etc. Assist those who may need more time and always remember to not blame if things don’t work out as expected.
  • Accept responsibility for getting things done
  • Set an example by taking the initiative.
  • Offer help and information where required. After all, your unique knowledge and skills may be just what is needed in a given situation.
  • Seek help and information. A leader is not someone who knows everything but someone who is happy to learn, ready to ask for advice. As a leader, your asking-for-assistance will encourage group involvement and help accomplish group goals.
  • Make things happen. Your being decisive, energetic, and enthusiastic can and will help get things done! Achieving goals boosts the morale of everyone around and triggers others to act decisively.
  • It’s very important to know when and how to say “no.” If your time and resources are already committed, turn down extra tasks, but do it nicely. It’s a great example for others to emulate.
  • Problem solving in a step-by-step way

Whether you are faced to make a decision or a conflict to resolve, follow a logical approach.

  • State the problem as simply and clearly as possible.
  • Gather and collate all relevant information and available resources.
  • Brainstorm as many ideas or solutions as you can think of. This could be individually or with others if possible.
  • Evaluate each idea or solution and choose the best one.
  • Design a plan to use your idea or solution. Remember to include a timetable, the assigned roles, and resources to be used.
  • Follow up on your plan by getting feedback from others, ask if your idea worked and why or why not.

 

A leader is a person who exhibits moral and ethical courage. He or she sets an example for others to follow. So, whether the role of a leader is thrust upon you or you aspire to be a leader, follow the seven strategies to start developing the skill. By practicing the strategies regularly, you will acquire the skill and will be appreciated by others as a good and effective leader. Good luck!

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