The skills associated with successful leadership are both wide-ranging and subjective. Ask an effective leader what the secret of their success is, and they’ll give you a slightly different answer than their peers. Having said this, there are a few core areas that greatly contribute to successful leadership, and below are some tips on how to develop your skills in this most interesting area of professional life. Develop your leadership skills more fully and your promotion opportunities will rise significantly, as will your new job prospects.
Create your own mould
If leadership is about anything, it is about sound judgement and individualism. Great leaders become great precisely because they think, interpret and communicate differently to most people. Leadership credentials can be drawn from a diverse range of skillsets, and a smart leader will develop their image to emphasise the areas that they are strongest in. Look at your own abilities, honestly evaluate your strong and weak points, and then begin to mould a leadership style that is unique to your personality and skills.
Recruitment is key
Very often, successful leaders only become so because they have managed to create a successful team around them. Establishing people around you that are every bit as sharp, hungry and focused as you will greatly enhance your ability to get things done, and thus be seen to be leading well. For this reason, effective recruitment is fundamental to your leadership success, and establishing a productive relationship with key recruitment companies will provide you with direct access to talented people, whenever you need them.
The quality of a leader is often defined by the quality and focus of their vision, and by how good they are at communicating this to each and every stakeholder within that vision. If you are a leader, people will look to you to draw their inspiration and motivation, so your visions for commercial futures need to be both impressive and clear. If you can truly focus on the vision you have, and provide a rationale for every detail, then this will be much easier to communicate and you stand a better chance of universal buy-in from your peers.
A good leader needs to be a shrewd advocate of your business to clients and suppliers, but also a motivational force internally. For both purposes, you will need to develop your speaking skills and body language so that you are comfortable in these roles. Remember that your vision and directives for the business are only as good as your ability to communicate them.
Nip things in the bud
Like a garden that requires regular attention, your company may need the ability to stem certain negative influences within your organisation at times. If you experience poor performance, take measured, but swift steps to remedy this with the employees concerned. A successful leader will always nip situations in the bud rather than wait until the rot sets in, and this will send a clear signal to other employees about the types of performance expected in the workplace.
Decision over inclusion (just)
Good leaders, in all walks of life, have a finely tuned sense of which decisions need to be made by teams, and which require a single-minded authority to push them forward. Too much, or too little of either is generally a bad thing, although if you are a dynamic leader, there may be a tendency to favour clear decisions rather than design by committee, particularly where time is of the essence.
Walk at least part of the walk
Empathy, the ability to genuinely appreciate the challenges felt by your team, is a crucial skill for any leader. This means that in addition to developing your speaking skills, you will need to hone your listening abilities too. It helps greatly if you have some experience of your team’s individual job roles, although the level of experience in those areas need not (and arguably should not) be as deep as theirs. If you show an ability to listen and impress your team with your understanding of their positions, this will breed trust and willingness to follow your vision.
Become a time management guru
One of the things that leaders most underestimate is the amount of time involved in managing the time and projects of others. Because of this, it is essential for you to become a master of time management, and not just your own. Truly effective leaders recognise that time is their most precious commodity, so spend yours wisely, and distribute it fairly amongst the people or situations that need it most. Hopefully your skills in this area will act as a blueprint for your colleagues and team too.
Sad but true, but we live in a superficial society obsessed with appearance, so it pays to look your best at all times. This has little bearing on your actual looks, but dressing sharp sends a signal out that you are there to do business as a serious professional. Many leaders find the process of dressing to impress a great psychological tool to ‘get into role’ and this approach tends to filter down to other personnel.
Lead from the front
At the end of the day, a good leader is one who earns the respect, trust, and ideally the commitment of their colleagues and team. In order to really achieve this, you will need to be seen to be leading from the front and displaying the qualities and behaviours you are expecting of others. Once they have faith that you can demonstrate that you have what it takes to become a great leader, people will take you as such, and you will be free to lead.