Former US President Ronald Reagan was quoted as saying that the greatest leaders are not necessarily those who do the greatest things, but those who get their people to do the greatest things. This statement applies quite appropriately to the corporate environments of today, where many managers struggle with becoming leaders. In case you are wondering, a manager is not the same as a leader. One is a corporate title, while the other is a personality type with the capacity to inspire.
Want to know the things that separate managers from leaders? Research shows that 78% of leaders in the business world regularly and actively focus on engaging effectively with employees. Currently, only 48% of employees agree that their leadership is ‘high quality’. Moreover, no one is a born leader. Although 10% of people are natural leaders, that doesn’t mean they came into the world with it. It means they’ve grown up in an environment that gave them some basic traits to naturally fit into leadership positions.
If you are an individual aspiring to assume a leadership role or already are in one, here are some things that can help:
1. Focus on your education
Knowledge and learning form the foundation of all leadership skills, and if you are looking to enhance your qualities as a leader, it is important to focus on taking courses or even a degree in administration. With the internet, this has become so much easier. For instance, an online MPA (Master’s in Public Administration)is a degree that can give you the platform to polish some of the skills that make a person an effective leader.
Besides enrolling in a degree program, there are thousands of available courses out there that teach valuable leadership skills. From communication to delegation, from resource management to overall administrative capabilities, there is a lot that these courses can let you learn. Furthermore, if you are doing it online, you have the convenience and flexibility to not let the learning process hinder your current professional responsibilities.
2. Know what your strong and weak points are
When it comes to self-analysis, you may not always be the best judge of character. It is a natural human tendency to overlook a lot of their weaknesses and mistakes usually. Still, an assessment of your character and personality is a great stepping stone when working toward enhancing leadership skills. With one comprehensive sitting where you analyze your strengths and weaknesses, you can understand where your competencies lie and what parts you lack.
Try and be as specific as possible about these. For instance, don’t just say you need to work on your presentation skills. Say something like you need to work on the nervousness you get while presenting or the fact that you must improve how well you can articulate ideas before a group of people and deliver them in simple, meaningful sentences for everyone to understand. Once you know your strengths and weaknesses, you can focus on improving them.
3. Hard skills go a long way toward strengthening leadership qualities
There is little doubt about the fact that technical expertise is becoming more and more crucial with each passing day. Therefore, executives must have a firm knowledge of the competencies pertinent to their sector. Although this can vary greatly depending on the industry you work in, crucial hard skills include financial analysis, project management, and contract management. Ask your manager or a mentor for advice if you’re unsure which hard skills are important for your sector.
It is pertinent to note that not everything is taught in college or university classrooms. A lot of the learning and practical application, especially of leadership skills, is learned when you set foot in the real world. Since hard skills are quantifiable and easily proven, they are the best way to get yourself in the books as someone with leadership capabilities. Identify the hard skills you already have and the ones that you can work on acquiring.
4. Take opportunities to put yourself out there
Most employers only assign tasks to their employees that they are certain they can finish. It’s important to suggest taking on additional responsibilities when you perform above and beyond in your current position. Focus on learning abilities that are unrelated to your field of expertise.
Avoid becoming smug about yourself. Step outside your comfort zone to challenge yourself to advance. Remember that the more effort you devote to your work, the more you will learn. By learning more and taking on more responsibility, you will ultimately be able to rise into a leadership role in your place of employment.
Whenever the opportunity emerges, you will have a history of taking the initiative, being inquisitive, and using what you learned to bring about advancements, so others will be more inclined to embrace you as a leader.
5. Learn the art of critical thinking
Effective leaders are also aware of prospective opportunities and take advantage of them to grow their company and their staff. Or, to phrase it another way, be proactive. Plan ahead and help the team be ready for when things go wrong instead of simply awaiting things to happen. When you’re a leader and a staff member brings up a problem, engage with them to determine the underlying cause and put preventative measures in place to ensure it doesn’t negatively impact the team, the company, or the clients.
6. Understand what effective delegation is
An effective leader won’t micromanage. Assign duties to your workers, and observe how effective they grow to be. If you do this, they will actively participate and have more opportunities to pick up new abilities. By delegating, you may concentrate on the goals you need to achieve on your own. You are eventually in charge of managing the task because you are the project manager.
This is the reason why it’s essential to oversee the project while assigning duties and to only provide assignments to capable individuals. Roles, responsibilities, and schedules must be set in order to delegate and complete a project properly.
Leadership skills are what separate an average employee from one that will finally rise through the ranks. With the corporate landscape becoming extensively complicated, it is up to you which category you want to fall in, given that the task of solidifying your position in a corporate environment has become extremely complicated. Performing a self-analysis and then going to work on your strengths as well as weaknesses is where you should ideally start.