A college degree and technical skills can only take you so far in your career. You need to develop essential soft skills too. One of the most important soft skills for career development is leadership skills. So what are leadership skills? And how to develop leadership skills in the workplace?
Leadership drives innovation, increases engagement, and facilitates mobilisation toward shared goals. From applying for jobs to getting a promotion — leadership skills are instrumental in all spheres. So knowing how to develop leadership skills in the workplace is very important for career growth.
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What are Leadership Skills?
Leadership is not just one skill. Instead, it refers to a combination of several different skills working together. Leadership skills are the qualities that individuals possess to help oversee people and processes, guide initiatives, drive employees toward achieving goals, etc. To put it simply, leadership skills are the skills one requires when steering other people to reach a shared goal.
No matter what position you’re in or in what industry, leadership skills are always valuable. You need leadership skills to motivate others to complete tasks, meet schedules, reach objectives. But more importantly, people in top positions have to be a jack-of-all-trades. They need leadership skills to do their job well.
It is important to remember that leadership is not only about managing others, but leaders also innovate and inspire! They motivate others to achieve their goal.
As Napoleon Bonaparte once said — “A leader is a dealer in hope.”
Most Effective Leadership Skills Examples for Employees
In case you’re wondering, ‘what skills should a leader have in the workplace’ here are some examples of an effective and strong leader’s skills –
These are some of the most crucial leadership skills to have. Adding more of these skills to your skillset and applying them effectively makes you more of a worthy leader. A leader isn’t necessarily a born leader, You can cultivate these skills and develop them over time. If you want to know more about how leadership takes place, check out Distributed Leadership.
Why do You Need Leadership Skills?
It’s only natural to think about why you need leadership skills or why develop leadership skills.
Leadership potential is one of the top attributes that forward-thinking employers look for in their employees. And employers highly covet those that exhibit leadership skills. So, you will need to demonstrate leadership skills for career growth.
Those with strong leadership skills have the exceptional ability to inspire others and lead teams to victory. An employee with good leadership skills can increase employee engagement, promote a positive work environment, and empower others. They can also help remove obstacles for their team and contribute significantly to achieving their objectives. This is why leadership skills are among the particularly sought-after skills.
Some leadership skills and competencies are essential to all firms. However, sometimes organisations also define what leadership qualities are distinctive to the particular organisation to create a competitive advantage. Leadership skills are not just crucial in the workplace. They are valuable in personal life too. So why is leadership important in life?
Leadership skills can potentially benefit every aspect of your life. For example, it can give you greater confidence, strengthen your communication and negotiation skills and help develop character. In addition, the values you learn as a leader can improve your personal life and relationships.
Therefore, leadership skills can set you on the fast track to success in your personal and professional life. You can read more about How Leadership Skills Can Influence the Values of an Organisation.
How to Develop Leadership Skills in the Workplace?
How to develop leadership skills at work is a question that we’ve all asked at one point in our professional life. But beware—to develop leadership skills, you have to be willing to get out of your comfort zone.
Developing leadership qualities requires a desire to lead and be in charge—a particular system of thought. You must have an underlying need to understand the fundamental truths about yourself, your surroundings, and your relationships in both personal and professional life.
It would also be a good time to remind yourself, ‘Why do you want to develop your leadership skills?’ That’ll keep you motivated in your process of developing leadership skills.
Here are a few ways that’ll help you develop leadership skills in the workplace
- 1. Conduct a Personal SWOT Analysis
- 2. Be Proactive & Take Initiatives
- 3. Develop Situational Awareness
- 4. Ask for More Responsibility
- 5. Find a Mentor
- 6. Learn to Collaborate
- 7. Determine Your Leadership Style
- 8. Communicate Effectively
- 9. Always Look at the Bigger Picture
10. Uplift and Empower Others
These are described below you give you a better understanding of how to develop leadership skills in the workplace.
1. Conduct a Personal SWOT Analysis
It is crucial to recognise your strengths and weakness to be a leader. When you know your strengths and opportunities, you can use them as leverage. And by knowing your weak points and potential threats, you’ll become more self-aware. Only then you can accurately figure out how to develop your leadership abilities.
Whether you’re looking for a new job opportunity or climbing the career ladder, a personal SWOT analysis can help you achieve your goals. It’s a creative self-assessment method to help you assess where your career is and where it could go.
A SWOT Analysis can help you better understand how to utilise your strengths and work on your weaknesses. Also, it will help you to uncover opportunities for overall progress and eliminate any threats that might hinder your growth.
Therefore, conduct a SWOT analysis to recognise your strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Then work on improving yourself based on the findings of the SWOT.
2. Be Proactive & Take Initiatives
One of the most important qualities in a leader is their ability to be proactive. By being proactive, you show others that –
You are capable of taking initiative instead of waiting for an instruction to do something.
You are capable of leading rather than always being led.
To develop your leadership skills in the workplace, you have to be willing to go above and beyond. That means you have to learn to be self-directed. For instance, you are reading this blog to develop your leadership skills. That shows you are willing to improve. You can take more steps to exhibit and improve your leadership skills. Like, you can take a Leadership Skill Development course to increase your knowledge and get accreditation at the same time.
You may also focus on learning competencies that fall outside your primary knowledge area to increase your skillset. Or you can think of ways to improve day-to-day tasks around the workplace by taking the initiative. When you intentionally think of being proactive, you may end up saving both time and money.
3. Develop Situational Awareness
A mark of a good leader is being able to see the bigger picture and anticipate problems before they even occur. It is about being completely engaged and aware of one’s surrounding environment.
Situational Awareness is a valuable skill to have when handling a complex project with a tight deadline. The ability to anticipate potential issues and find possible solutions is invaluable for a leader. This will also help you to recognise opportunities and threats more effectively, earning you recognition.
Lack of situational awareness is sure to affect decision-making and eventually lead to failure to meet deadlines and reach goals. A good leader knows what lays ahead down the road and how to avoid obstacles or minimise them.
Unfortunately, situation awareness may be worsened due to fatigue, distractions, stressful situations, and a high workload. So you need to be self-aware and take care of yourself first.
4. Ask for More Responsibility
One of the best ways to develop your leadership skills is to step out of your comfort zone and put your abilities to the test. You can ask for more responsibility or volunteer to take on new projects.
But it is important you do not take on more than you can cope with and do not allow your boss to take you for granted. Regardless, showing some initiative is a good first step into leadership territory. So, test drive your leadership skills by undertaking additional responsibilities, such as taking the initiative to start a new project and chairing meetings.
5. Find a Mentor
Seeking a mentor is one of the fastest ways to develop leadership skills. Ideally, you would choose an experienced leader as your mentor. But you may choose to have different mentors at different stages of your career. Or you could have more than one mentor at a time with different areas of expertise. For instance, one mentor can coach you on improving your public speaking, and another can guide you on crisis management.
While seeking a mentor, look for some attributes that are important to you and will help you improve. For instance, they should be
- Willing to listen and coach you
- Share their knowledge
- Offer advice and constructive feedback.
With the help of a mentor, you can learn how to direct and motivate others, gain cooperation from others, adapt to different challenges and environments, delegate work, etc.
After you’ve identified a suitable mentor, and they have agreed to be your mentor, you can fix mentoring goals and a schedule. You can specify what kind of support, help, or guidance that you need. Then work with your mentor to establish the frequency of check-in meetings or regular updates. You can also fix the preferred mode of communication such as face-to-face meetings, conference calls, video conferences, email, text messages, etc.
The reason for talking about these beforehand is everyone is busy, and their time is valuable. Ergo, it is important to make the best use of the mentoring sessions that you have available.
6. Learn to Collaborate
This is a key attribute of a good leader. So, build on your workplace collaboration skills. Go out of your way to engage with and assist those both in and outside of your immediate team. Try to be actively involved in discussions and ideas sessions and respect others’ opinions. There are countless other ways to develop and demonstrate effective collaboration.
But to be a great collaborator, you need to be accepting, friendly, and willing to work with others. Being amicable and open-minded also helps in the process of learning to collaborate.
7. Determine Your Leadership Style
Decide what kind of leader you want to be, because there are many different types of leadership styles. And understanding your leadership style will help you to develop leadership skills and navigate your career options. Aligning your leadership style with your desired goal will help you to develop the right strengths and competencies you need for better career opportunities.
Different businesses and work environments require different leadership styles. So there are many leadership styles, such as the following.
As the name indicates, transformational leadership intends to create valuable and positive change in the followers. Transformational leaders encourage, inspire and motivate their employees to perform well to create meaningful change in the organisation, in their personal lives and in the overall society. Transformational leadership manifests a highly engaged workforce that’s empowered to innovate and shape an organisation’s future success.
Some widely recognised, real-life examples of transformational leaders would be Steve Jobs, Mahatma Gandhi and Jeff Bezos. There are four elements of transformational leadership, otherwise known as the ‘The Four I’s’. They are—idealized influence, inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation, individual consideration.
Strategic leadership is about a leader’s ability to visualize, plan, lead, and reach organisational goals. It’s the ability to influence others to make decisions voluntarily that improve the prospects for the organization’s long-term success. The strategic leadership style emphasises a leader’s ability to tap into concepts and skills and process them to guide a business towards long term financial stability.
Autocratic leadership, or authoritarian leadership, is a leadership style denoted by an individual taking all decisions with little input from others. And autocratic leaders typically make choices based on their own beliefs, ideas, and judgments. Also, an autocratic leader rarely accepts advice from followers. That means the leader holds all the decision-making power.
Some well-known examples of autocratic leaders are—Adolf Hitler, Napoleon Bonaparte, Queen Elizabeth I, and Vladimir Putin.
The Situational Leadership Model, created by Paul Hersey and Ken Blanchard, is an adaptive leadership style. In this leadership style, the leader takes a different approach to leadership based on the follower’s knowledge, competency, and motivation level.
Transactional leaders essentially motivate their subordinates by exchanging rewards for desired performance. It is sometimes referred to as managerial leadership. Also, transactional leadership is more appropriate for organisations with a fixed structure.
Democratic leadership is also referred to as participative leadership or shared leadership. A democratic leader allows members of the group to take a participative role in the decision-making process. Democratic leadership is very helpful in solving complex problems. But it can be quite time-consuming. Some real-life examples of successful democratic leaders are General Dwight Eisenhower and Nelson Mandela.
Out of all the leadership styles, there is no way to label a leadership style as inherently “good” or “bad.” That’s because every leadership style is useful in a particular context. So it is best to be as flexible and agile as possible.
8. Communicate Effectively
Communication is key. Still, not all of us have great communication skills. But for a leader, great communication skills are crucial.
That’s right. According to a survey conducted, 91% of employees think their managers aren’t very good communicators. So try your best not to be included in such a statistic.
Instead, be an active, empathetic listener. A large part of good leadership is about taking everyone’s views into account, so work on your ability to listen and consider things from different perspectives.
9. Always Look at the Bigger Picture
Looking at the bigger picture entails understanding how your actions affect the overall success of your project or your organisation. It’s your ability to comprehend how all the little details have a purpose and how they help reach the vision and mission of your organisation.
Often times, employees get an instruction to do something, and they start working on it, without thinking why they are doing that or what purpose would that serve. A leader doesn’t do that. A leader tries to understand how their work will serve the organisations goals.
Moreover, the best leaders see problems before they arise and implement plans to avoid them. To do this, you need to understand how organisational goals are achieved and the potential pitfalls that can throw progress off track. So instead of focusing on your role alone, look at how all departments work together. The deeper your knowledge and understanding, the better leader you will become.
10. Uplift and Empower Others
True leaders don’t just think of themselves. They aim to inspire and uplift others. Effective leaders recognise that they can’t progress without others. They learn to recognise the value of each team member, learn about them, and encourage them to constantly improve themselves.
If an employee shares a new idea, encourage them. Be one of their biggest fans!
When they need encouragement or guidance, offer it. Sometimes a few motivating words or encouraging words of wisdom goes a long way to help a person improve. And don’t we all need someone to actually listen and be a little encouraging?
So, inspire them to step out of their comfort zone and believe in them. By showing your belief in them, you’ll instil confidence in them. One of the joys of leadership is seeing your team members succeed. And when you actively empower them, they’ll be grateful and loyal to you. So there’s no harm in uplifting and empowering your team members.
How to Apply Leadership Skills in the Workplace?
To learn how to apply leadership skills in the workplace, take some time to determine who you are, what are your values and priorities. So essentially, you’ll have to create your Personal Leadership Philosophy. At first, it might seem confusing if you don’t know your leadership style yet. If you don’t recognise your own leadership abilities or haven’t developed your skills fully yet, you can follow someone with great leadership abilities.
So you will start by finding your idol who’s in a leadership role. Analyse their behaviour and how they handle daily situations, how they resolve conflicts. And take notes on what you find, then choose what suits your personality or how you’d like to be as a leader.
In the meantime, don’t forget to give your best in your work. Your work, more precisely, the quality of your work, represents who you are. But at the same time, you should aim for improving the work of people around you. A leader doesn’t become a leader by himself. He doesn’t leave behind his followers.
Another thing you need to do for applying leadership skills is—align your values and your actions. This ensures your intention is at the right place, and you can focus on what matters.
And to apply leadership skills, you have to practise discipline in everyday life—both personal and professional. Because you can apply
Lastly, take a willing individual under your wing and teach them everything you know. Be their mentor. There’s no better way to apply your leadership abilities than this.
How to Say You Have Good Leadership Skills?
After learning how to develop leadership skills in the workplace, you will want to demonstrate those skills. People might not automatically take notice of your newfound leadership skills, so you have to show them. You have to be proactive and let people know you have what it takes to be a leader.
Leadership is vital for successful management — to maximise work efficiency and achieve organisational goals. Hence, leadership skills are paramount in any kind of job, regardless of the level of job or company size, or managerial style. Not only that, leadership skills are one of the most sought-after soft skills that employers look for in candidates or HR looks for while considering promotion.
So, how can you demonstrate leadership skills in the workplace? If you’re confused about how to showcase your leadership skills, these are some good areas to start with. You can portray your leadership skills through –
Another crucial this is to recognise that leadership and management are different. Although you may have heard these two terms interchangeably, they aren’t the same. Loosely speaking,
To manage is to handle
To lead is to guide
When you know how to separate these two, it’ll be easier to showcase your leadership abilities.
Exemplary leadership skills facilitate career development. You don’t necessarily need a title to become a leader. Leadership is a valuable soft skill that you can exhibit without formal authority. But remember, leadership is not about micromanaging!
Now that you know ‘How to Develop Leadership Skills in the Workplace’ start working on them. If you want to learn more and gain a valuable certificate to showcase your skills, take this Leadership Skill Development course. With dedication and confidence, you’ll be able to master leadership skills to climb up your career ladder smoothly.
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