How to Hone Your Leadership Skills

Many leaders advance to their leadership roles due in part to the fact that they were good in their previous jobs — a trait that may make them good employees, but not necessarily good leaders straight off the bat. Fortunately, with a bit of introspection and self-reflection, these leadership skills can be both learned and enhanced. Here are some tips about how to improve your leadership capabilities. 

Be Open to New Things

Do you openly invite and embrace new ideas, or do you prefer to stick with what you’ve always done? Being willing to explore potentially better ways of doing things can help you grow as a manager and as a mentor. Try hosting brainstorming sessions around new projects or generating solutions to identified problems. 

For example, let’s say you don’t have the right invoicing process to ensure prompt payment. To ensure your company is paid appropriately, set clear payment terms, invoice immediately, and accept different payment methods. The best invoice template will allow you to create professional-looking invoices that suit your brand and include your logo.

Also be open to enhancing your business acumen by wrapping up your higher education, which is an investment in self-improvement. Going back to school and earning an online MBA could allow you to develop your business acumen, whether your program concentration of choice is in business management, management and leadership, or marketing. If you’re not willing to continuously learn, it could derail your business. 

Develop Emotional Intelligence

While emotional intelligence comes naturally to some people, it can still be learned by those who don’t come to it easily. Being emotionally intelligent essentially means you have the ability to recognize when people are struggling or unhappy even if they don’t come right out and say it. 

For example, if you regularly ask an employee to stay late, and they say yes, that isn’t necessarily the end of the discussion. Do they pause, sigh, look away, or say something like, “I guess I can if you really need me to?” Learn to read between the lines — assessing body language, demeanor, and tone are all ways you can demonstrate your emotional intelligence.

Be Open to Coaching

According to McKinsey & Company, your professional development should continue as a leader, whether that’s learning new things, working with a mentor, or having a 360 evaluation performed to identify areas for improvement. Leaders who fail to grow often get derailed in their careers. You may see low morale, high turnover, and if you have a poor temperament, you may find fewer and fewer people are interested in collaborating or working with you. Encourage staffers to continue with their professional development as well. A commitment to lifelong learning, in all its forms, can strengthen your team and improve productivity.

Think about old practices in new ways. For instance, instead of subjecting everyone to a long meeting where most people’s roles are passive, embrace the walking meeting. Not only do these meetings keep people from dozing off, they encourage interaction. They also encourage physical activity, which most people need when in office jobs. 

Even if your employees are remote, encourage them to walk through their neighborhoods. If they live in an area with a high walk score, this becomes even easier because there are places to which they can easily walk. So they can grab a cup of coffee while logged in.

Be Committed

One of the quintessential ways to demonstrate commitment is to ‘put your money where your mouth is,’ so to speak. This can be within the confines of your employer or by striking out on your own. Choosing to start an LLC is a way to demonstrate your commitment to your own ideas. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the hard way; a formation service can make the process simple and straightforward.  

Are you committed to your company and its mission? To your employees? How about  your own development as a leader? It’s essential to truly buy into and understand the intricacies of your company and its goals and objectives. When you are committed in this way, you model the attitude for staffers, which creates a cohesive team environment. Likewise, employees who are assimilated and have a vested interest in the company’s success are more likely to perform better and go above and beyond to achieve shared company goals.

Check Your Attitude

Wisestep points out that some leaders derail their careers with poor attitudes. Resist the urge to criticize the company or its practices, and lead with an attitude of assistance rather than authority. Your employees should feel like they can count on you to advocate for them. Help them develop professionally and provide opportunities for rewarding work. Don’t act with an authoritarian approach, but rather, attempt to get group consensus. Not only is this a way to bring the best ideas to the table, your direct reports will feel like their opinions matter. This can lead to reduced attrition.

Find Ways to Grow as a Leader

Good leadership skills can be developed and are essential to your own professional success. You need the respect of your team and your superiors to continue advancing in your career, and learning good leadership traits is the first step in that direction. Identify the areas in which you could grow, and focus on those one at a time. Change isn’t easy and it doesn’t happen overnight, but the people around you will begin to see the difference and respect you more for it.

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