Leadership is the act of influencing a group of people toward a common goal. It is a common misconception that one cannot be a leader if he or she is not born with certain leader-like behaviors or qualities. The truth is, anyone can be a leader if they choose to develop this skill. The key lies in putting the needs of others before yourself, and committing yourself to your leadership vision.
“If you want to be a leader, the good news is that you can do it. Everyone has the potential, but it isn’t accomplished overnight. It requires perseverance.” – John C. Maxwell
Here are 10+ tips on how to develop your leadership abilities:
1. Observe and learn from other leaders.
No better way to become a great leader than to learn from the best. Observe what qualities make great leaders, well great. Write these down. Do you possess any of these qualities? If not, what do you need to work on to be great too?
“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” – John F. Kennedy
2. Find out your own leadership style.If you don’t know what your leadership style is, take the PeopleKeys Leadership Style assessment to learn what type of leader you are able to become. Another fact -- no one personality style is the only style that can be a leader. Every personality style has their own set of strengths and weaknesses. How you develop and apply your strengths toward helping others will also help you hone in on your unique leadership abilities.
3. Define and share your vision.
Every leader has a vision and a cause bigger than him or herself. Write down a vision statement for yourself and what you want to accomplish. Share this with your team and get their buy-in to make it official.
4. Set goals and solicit feedback.
Everyone should set goals, but as a leader you have an example to set. Establish SMART goals for yourself that are challenging, yet attainable. Solicit feedback from your team to check in on how you’re doing. If a goal seems unrealistic or is unattainable, modify and keep moving forward.
5. Have the courage to fail.
Push your limits and take on challenges outside your comfort zone. Overcoming the fear of failure can be a real challenge for most people, but failure is not the end of your world. Take it as a lesson, learn from it and move on. A leader doesn’t give up.
6. Celebrate successes.
Don’t forget to celebrate small triumphs, because every small success contributes to the success of all. Employee motivation and morale improves when people feel important so take time to recognize the good.
7. Don’t extinguish the flame.
Move forward with passion, keep a positive attitude, and have commitment and faith in your vision. Sometimes the road to leadership will become rocky, but don’t sweat the small stuff. Keep your eye on the bigger picture and your “why.” Revisit your strengths, vision, goals, successes and lessons. Seek the advice of a life coach if you need some inspiration.
8. Recognize the difference between a manager and a leader.
Stay humble, listen more, speak less and keep any promises you make. Also, don’t try to please everybody. You’ll end up just wearing yourself down and lose the trust and respect of your team by deviating from your vision and goals. Keep your eye on the bigger picture of the greater good of the whole.
“The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humor, but without folly.” – Jim Rohn
9. Be a good example to others.
Know your organization’s rules, maintain a consistency of values and stay away from “gray” areas. Set the example for those who will become the next leaders.
10. Never stop improving.
Knowledge is power. Never stop learning, failing, pushing boundaries, having faith and testing. Your gain is your team’s gain. You will improve through experience, but you must have the experience in order to improve!
11.Turn followers into leaders.
A leader empowers others to lead. Follow the above tips and there will be others who will want to follow your lead and learn how to become the next generation of leaders. Teach them your knowledge, your successes and failures, empathy and what it means to serve others.
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams