There are many situations in which effective leadership skills can benefit you, most notably at work, but also at school, in athletics, even in your social life. Many of us want to become leaders in some form or another, but don’t know how to improve our leadership skills and make the jump to become a leader. Some people are born with naturally good leadership skills while others struggle, but everyone can work on their leadership skills and improve with practice. In this article, we will discuss how you can improve your leadership skills and get the leadership positions you crave.
Start with building confidence
In order for you to become an effective leader, you need to believe that you can do it. This is often the thing that holds people back from becoming leaders - they have the skills they need, but they just don’t have the confidence to take charge and move into a leadership position. So before you start working on any other aspects of leadership, you need to build up your confidence. Here are some easy confidence-boosting tips and tricks.
Present yourself nicely
When you feel confident about the way you look, you’re going to feel more confident about other aspects of your personality as well. This doesn’t just mean wearing trendy, fashionable clothes, but instead wearing pieces that are flattering, express your personality, and are appropriate for the situation. It also may help to get a haircut and make some changes to your skincare or beauty routine if you need a confidence boost. Even a small change can make a big difference in the way you feel about yourself overall.
Know your strengths and use them to your advantage
If you’re feeling down on yourself and want to boost your confidence, start by making a list of all the things you are good at. These can be broad things, like your kindness or intelligence, or very specific things, like being good at math or sports. Even things that may seem trivial, like making good jokes, are important to note. You will probably be surprised by just how many things you are actually good at when you start thinking about it. Once you’re aware of your skills, you can remind yourself of them when you’re feeling low and use them to your advantage.
Set small daily goals for yourself
The feeling of achieving a goal is excellent for boosting your confidence, so setting small goals for yourself is a great strategy to use when you are feeling low. This can be anything from finishing a project at work to going for a run to finding time to read a book. Whatever it is, it should be something that helps you better yourself in some way, whether that’s intellectually, emotionally, or physically. Over time, you’ll not only find yourself feeling more confident, but you will also have actually improved your skill set.
Any time you find yourself feeling stuck in one way or another, focus on what you can do to fix the problem instead of dwelling on the problem itself. Once you’ve identified a way you can fix the problem, do it as soon as you can. Actually taking action when you’re struggling will help you feel more confident because it’s a great reminder that you have agency over your behavior.
Be aware of your inner monologue
Many people bring themselves down without even realizing it with their negative self-talk. This is something that you can fix with a little bit of conscious effort. Take note every time you have a negative thought, and try to replace it with a positive one. Although it might feel disingenuous at first, over time, you’ll start to take it to heart.
Improve your leadership skills
Once you’re feeling confident and ready to take on a new challenge, it’s time to work on your leadership skills themselves. There are many different facets of leadership, and it requires much more subtlety and attention to detail than many people realize. Here are some of the best ways to improve your leadership skills.
Focus on positivity
Although some leaders try to use negativity to motivate their team, the old saying rings true that you will catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. If you keep a positive attitude even when things get challenging, it shows the people around you that you are able to handle the pressure that comes with being a leader. Positivity also endears you to your team and will inspire them to work hard and take on the same goals as you.
Set concrete requirements and goals for your team
Although it’s important to be positive, there’s a difference between being positive and being a pushover. If you’re already in a leadership position, one of the best ways to lead effectively is to be very clear about what’s required of each team member, and to set clear, measurable goals for the team as a whole. When your team members are clear about what they need to do and what will happen if it doesn’t get done, it is going to be much easier for them to work effectively. A lack of clear communication about team requirements is going to lead to confusion, and team members will be much more likely to slack off when this happens.
Know how to delegate
Oftentimes people who are looking to advance in their career try to take on everything themselves to show that they can handle it. However, this is actually a very ineffective way to lead. A good leader needs to know their strengths, but they also need to know the strengths of their team members and trust them. As a leader, you’ll need to know when to delegate a task to a team member, either because you don’t have the time to do it, or because they can do a better job in this specific area. Delegation not only helps your team get more done, but it also creates trust among your team, and reduces some of the stress that comes with being in a leadership position.
Keep an open dialogue
Leadership is not just you telling others what to do, it’s you communicating with them in a conversation. In addition to being completely transparent about your projects and your expectations of your team members, you also need to create space for them to ask questions and provide feedback. If you are unapproachable, it not only creates an uncomfortable working environment, but it also makes it very difficult for your team to make progress. You need to be consistently communicating with each team member about their personal contributions, and make sure they are openly encouraged to ask questions when they need to. You should also be asking them questions - is there anything else they need? What could you do better as a leader? Giving team members the opportunity for feedback makes them feel valued, and you can use their feedback to create a better working environment for everyone.
Make your team feel valued
When team members feel valued, it increases their motivation. There are many different ways to make your team members feel valued. You should start by learning about each of their individual working styles and making accommodations to help them work more effectively. For example, introverts will feel more valued if you give them space and time to work on their own. Alternatively, extroverts will enjoy being assigned to team projects. If someone gets more done working out of the office, giving them space to do so could get excellent results as well. On top of that, another way to make your team members feel valued is by congratulating them on a job well done. This can be public recognition in some form, but many people are equally happy with just a private congratulations. Having your work recognized and acknowledged when you’ve been putting in a lot of effort always feels good.
Give constructive feedback
There are always going to be times when your team members make mistakes, and it's how you handle those mistakes that makes the difference between a good leader and a bad one. Good leaders don't let mistakes slide, but they turn them into opportunities for learning and improvement. This shows that you are invested in the growth and development of your team members. You should also be willing to help your team members get more training when they need it, and offer extra resources if they don't have what's sufficient to do their job.
Make time for team bonding
Regardless of how talented your team members are, you won’t be effective unless you all work together. It’s important that you foster a healthy relationship between every member of your team. There are many different ways you can go about bringing your team together. A good way to do this is by planning fun events that give everyone time to get to know each other outside of work. This could be anything from an informal lunch at work to a party to a fun team activity, like going for a hike or playing a game. You should also be encouraging team members to work together and learn from each other. If one team member excels at something, have them share their knowledge with others. Encourage members to help each other if one person is struggling. Facilitating these small interactions will lead to a very healthy and supportive environment.
How to get leadership positions
If you’re struggling to make the leap into a leadership position, it can feel like you’re never going to move forward. However, oftentimes it comes down to just having the right strategy. Here are some tips to help you get into a leadership position, whether it’s at work or in another aspect of your life.
In many cases, getting leadership positions comes down to who you know. Even if you have all the right skills, it’s very difficult to get the leadership positions you are looking for if you don’t have the connections with the people who have the power to promote you. If you want to be a leader, aim to strengthen your relationships with key people in your organization. This doesn’t mean sucking up to them, but genuinely being friendly and helpful when you have the opportunity to talk to them. If you can get someone to mentor you who is in a position you aspire to, this is going to be particularly beneficial. You should also put effort into maintaining relationships with people who aren’t in a leadership position. Not only will this make your work life easier and more pleasant, but it could also help you later on in your career. You never know who might eventually be in a position to put in a good word for you.
Go above and beyond
If you want to be a leader, you need to show exceptional work ethic and skill in your current position. Do your best to be consistent and reliable in every situation, and put in extra hours on important projects. This will increase your value to your organization and make you a prominent candidate for leadership. If you feel like you aren’t being challenged enough, it can also help to ask to take on new projects.
Fix problems other’s aren’t addressing. Good problem solving skills are a key characteristic that many leaders share. If you notice a problem in your workplace that is going unaddressed, start brainstorming potential solutions, and take steps to enact them. You may not be able to fix everything on your own, but this will dramatically increase your chances of eventually getting a leadership position.
If you want to be a leader, it’s important to start thinking and acting like one to show those around you that you’re up for the challenge. By boosting your confidence, showing off your work ethic and problem solving, and making an effort to effectively manage those around you, you can nab a leadership position and be successful at it.