Being a leader is a way of separating yourself from the rest of the pack, leading with conviction, passion and purpose, and creating a lasting impact.
Leadership can come in all shapes and sizes but the ones that really have an impact will be remembered forever. This isn’t just a case of having an impact on your own life as a leader, but about the impact that you leave with others.
A good leader can get the job done, no doubt. They can lead teams of people, businesses, projects, and more, but the difference between a good leader and a great leader is that a great leader will never be forgotten.
A great leader will be referred to throughout the lifetime of those that they’ve led, as they reflect on how they have got to where they are in life. The best thing is that a great leader will have impacted others in ways that they could have never imagined at the start of their own journey.
I, Kelly, know from a personal perspective that this is 100% true for me. When I first started out in the corporate world in the early 2000’s I went from manager to manager as I climbed the ladder, but I never once got the sense that they were great, or in some cases even good leaders. Throughout the initial couple of years, I didn’t get the opportunities for me to develop, I’d put forward ideas and concepts only for my so-called managers to take all of the glory without anything such as a pat on the back or a 'Thank You'.
That all changed though, and literally overnight. I moved to a different department under a different manager, someone that was relatively new to the business and someone that wanted to lead, and not just people manage. Under his direction, I went from strength to strength and progressed my career significantly.
When it came to the point that I needed to lead others, I knew that I wanted to be a role model, I wanted to help others to help themselves, with a resulting benefit of helping me and the wider business. I wanted to be one of the ones that would be remembered, and I can gladly say (without blowing my own trumpet) that I am by some of the people that I managed personally. I have had great feedback and I still get contacted by them to this day whenever they need guidance, advice or just to discuss potential ideas.
The lasting effect that this has had on them is that they too realised that they wanted to be that person. They have continued to go from strength to strength themselves, surpassing all of their previous expectations.
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” — John Quincy Adams
Now, there are many traits of great leadership, but I am going to share 5 effective ways that you can develop your own leadership skills and step into that greatness with pride and honour.
1. Inspire others to do better
A good leader can motivate others to do their job, but a great leader can inspire others to do their best, to want to do more than is expected of them, and to help them to continue to learn and develop.
Inspiration doesn’t always land right with everyone though and you will find people within your team that aren’t inspired to do their best. It is those that you need to not ignore but put more time and effort in to support them, to understand more about them and to figure out what makes them tick.
Talking to your team openly and honestly about where things are going, how you envisage the path to success looking, and how they can contribute to achieving that, will enable you to understand more about who and how your team will form part of the journey.
Not everyone is the same and you can’t treat them that way which I’m sure you already know, some you may have to hand-hold more than others, but as a great leader, there is no doubt that you can inspire each and every one of them to do their very best.
2. Let your actions do the talking
Actions really do speak louder than words so let your actions do the talking for you. Be around your team, let them know that you’re accessible, that you’re approachable, and that you can help them if ever they feel that they need to reach out.
The same goes for giving credit where credit is due and saying 'Thank You'. Remembering back to my personal perspective on this, make sure that if someone has done something well, if they’ve delivered on something that you committed to on behalf someone else, if they’ve stepped up and made you look good, give them the thanks for it.
Share their successes with the team and let them bask in the glory. Not only will this help them as individuals to stay motivated to continue, but it will no doubt inspire others to want to do the same.
Also, don’t forget to just be polite and thankful for the fact that they are doing their jobs. Yes, they may be getting paid for it but so are you, and I am sure that you would appreciate a 'Thank You' from someone every now and again if you don’t get them already.
3. Work with conviction
Your own passion to lead will shine through in everything that you do, if you’re doing it with purpose and conviction.
Be passionate about your work, your commitment to deliver the best results, and to help others succeed through your leadership.
Execute delivery with finesse, consistency and be persistent in all endeavours.
4. Become an enabler
Give your team member's the opportunity to step up and own a deliverable. As a great leader, you need to instill trust and honesty amongst your team, and you need to assist in your team’s development.
If you believe that someone is ready, or they are telling you that they are ready, become an enabler and give them the opportunity. If they succeed, celebrate with them and talk to them about what they found, ask if they would change anything if they were to do it again and talk to them about potential future opportunities should they come up.
If they didn’t succeed however, don’t get frustrated or tell them “I told you so”. Instead, take time to talk to them, to discuss what went well, what didn’t go so well, what can they learn from the experience and how can you help them as their leader to be ready for when the next opportunity presents itself.
Be sure to not just let this rest on its laurels, you want to make sure that you can give them another opportunity; you want to keep them engaged, inspired and to look at how they can smash the next opportunity that comes their way.
It’s all about you trusting, supporting and developing your team to be better versions of themselves and to help you in helping the wider business.
5. Invest in your own development
Your own personal development is your key to success, not just for you individually but for your team. If you strive to be at the top of your game, to be able to adapt and pivot as your team and business does, you will not only support the development of your own career or business, but you will inspire others to follow in your footsteps.
As you learn new things, you uncover new things about you and will learn new ways in which you can continue to develop your own leadership skills, but also the leadership skills of those that you lead.
“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” — John F. Kennedy
So, there you have it, 5 relatively simple, yet effective ways to develop your leadership skills. Improving as a leader is going to help enhance your confidence to become a stronger influence, as well as better supporting the needs of your team.
Do you have any other tips that can help improve leadership skills? If so, leave these in the comments, we'd love to check them out.
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