Are you a natural-born leader? Are you someone who can guide, instruct and motivate others to follow them, without even thinking about it? If not, don’t lose hope. More often than not, leadership is a practiced and perfected form of behavior and mannerisms that are continually improved throughout one’s life. And whether or not you’re aware, you’re already a leader to some degree – it may not be at work, but it could be at home, or amongst your friends, or (if we’re grasping for straws) a leader amongst your pets!
The best types of leaders have been described as those who are positive, inspiring, and who empower and develop their team. If you’re ready to take the next step in your leadership role, consider our 9 tips for how to improve leadership skills, and get the most out life and the people around you!
9 Tips On How To Improve Leadership Skills
1. Be Passionate
If you really want to know how to improve leadership skills, one of the best places to start is to be passionate about the goals of the group. Your genuine enthusiasm for the team, the project and the tasks will be contagious, and your interest and encouragement of your team members progress will make them feel appreciated and valued. Put yourself in your followers shoes: would you rather look for guidance in someone who is blasé, dismissive and unconcerned about your contribution? Or would you prefer someone who is interested, passionate and that genuinely cares? The proof is in the pudding!
2. Discover Your Leadership Style
To improve your leadership skills, you first need to understand which skills you already have; what your strengths are, and more importantly, what your weaknesses are. Only once you have this insight can you really begin to work on using your strengths to your advantage, improving your weaknesses, and perfecting your leadership abilities. Consider taking an online test to easily assess your leadership style, such as this one.
3. Communication Is Key
You won’t be able to carry a team if you can’t communicate with them effectively. Take the time to improve your listening and communication skills and you’ll soon see the results will be worthwhile. By expressing sincere care and concern towards group members and their opinions, you’ll encourage them to contribute to the team both verbally and non-verbally.
4. Boost Creativity
If you want to get the most out of your followers, you’ll need to ensure that they are first stimulated intellectually and creatively. If not, you risk leading a group of bored, uninspired people who may not be able to contribute to your greater cause. Most effective employment leaders encourage creativity by offering their team members challenges with clearly defined and reachable goals, as well as ample support if required. This exercise is as much to get people to stretch their limits, as it is to teach them that obstacles aren’t a barrier to success.
5. Have A Positive Attitude
Inspire your followers by maintaining an optimism and upbeat attitude for everything you do. This is especially important when facing obstacles and tough times. As your followers look to you for guidance, it’s important you maintain an optimistic view in the face of challenges, or you risk your followers becoming uninspired and discouraged.
6. Encourage Contribution
Just because you’re a leader, that doesn’t mean that your team can’t play a large part in contributing ideas and plans. If you want a really engaged team, work on encouraging contribution by welcoming new ideas, acknowledging and even rewarding where appropriate. Although you will ultimately have the final say over all decisions, you’ll be increasing your members’ commitment, productivity and problem-solving abilities by encouraging their involvement.
7. Be A Follower
Even though you’re a leader, you will still want to ensure your followers can relate to you on a personal level. You can develop yourself and your leadership skills by learning from your team members and putting that new knowledge into practice. By doing this, you’ll make your team members feel valued, as well as the added bonus of learning something you didn’t know before. Encourage your team members to learn from each other, and they will find value in not only themselves, but also one another.
8. Set Goals And Follow Your Plans
You can’t work towards something great if you don’t know what it is. Leaders need to have a vision or goal to work towards, and need concrete action plans to follow. Improve your leadership skills by being specific about this information to your followers, including timelines, expectations, and objectives. Once you do this, your followers will know what they are working towards, and you will have a more effective leadership process.
9. Motivate Your Followers
John Quincy Adams (America’s sixth President) once said “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader”, and he couldn’t be more correct. You can make huge improvements to your leadership skills by motivating and energizing your followers to take action. This could be in the form of recognizing their contribution, giving praise, or rewarding them for their accomplishments. To successfully motivate them though, it is important to first understand what their needs or wants are by talking to your followers regularly, either through 1-on-1 talks, or group discussions.