Those with strong leadership skills are always highly desirable in the workplace, especially for positions that involve actively managing other employees. However, for many, these skills aren’t ones which you can passively learn through on-the-job experiences. In this guide, we’ll look at some of the key actions you can take to proactively develop your career and become a more effective leader.
1. Spend time making observations
Having a strong sense of awareness is a helpful skill that all leaders should cultivate. After all, it’s up to those in leadership positions to notice, address, and solve problems in the workplace, and staying aware of how your team members are performing will make it easier to spot potential issues and work on solutions.
For example, if one of your team members is struggling with a particular skill, you can make a recommendation on how they can develop that ability. An employee who finds it difficult to convey their ideas to fellow team members would benefit from practicing their communication skills and receiving feedback on their delivery. It’s also important to make observations about yourself to see if your performance is meeting both your and your manager’s expectations.
2. Understand your flaws
Finding areas of improvement and constantly seeking ways to better yourself is the mark of an excellent leader. You should have enough self-awareness to define any underdeveloped skills or potentially problematic characteristics that you may have. Make sure to be honest with yourself to avoid missing any flaws. Getting a second opinion from your peers might help uncover negative traits that would otherwise be ignored.
Once you know what characteristics can use improvement, you can start making positive changes. Professionals who realize they’re not good at having difficult conversations with colleagues, for example, could work with a mentor or career coach to develop these skills.
3. Seek constructive criticism
Learning how to take and seek feedback from your superiors is essential for developing as a leader. If you have particular skills you wish to build, such as communication, then be sure to ask for specific criticism on those areas and see if those providing input have any recommendations for how to strengthen said skills. The feedback you receive will indicate which skills you should prioritize improving, so it’s a good idea to ask for critiques regularly.
4. Learn from past mistakes
Reflecting on your past experiences can reveal knowledge that can be applied to your position as a leader. Every mistake can be turned into a learning opportunity so long as you take the time to find the lesson. Understanding how something went wrong will better equip you for handling similar situations in the future. Any professional has the potential to make mistakes, so knowing how to take these mishaps and turn them into something beneficial is a useful skill to learn for budding leaders.
You may also share these experiences with your team to help them avoid making the same mistakes. A leader should serve as a mentor for their professionals and be unafraid to admit to their own shortcomings.
5. Listen to those with experience and follow their examples
Your fellow professionals and superiors are great resources that you can utilize for growing as a leader. People who have become successful leaders will have the necessary experience to offer expert advice on how to develop your leadership skills. Someone who has strong leadership qualities can serve as a live example of how an effective leader acts.
Following in the footsteps of your superiors and mentors can also be helpful. You may want to ask them to recommend a career development training program they’ve found to be helpful, engage with the same career coaching service, or read the same leadership books they’ve read.
6. Challenge yourself
Leaders should be constantly evolving as professionals and developing their skills, and one way to do this is by challenging yourself in the workplace. You can start by asking your superiors for additional leadership-based responsibilities. This could include managing sub-teams, providing training to more junior employees, and attending leadership meetings where appropriate.. You may also seek out workshops or online training courses that teach you about unfamiliar skills.
The process of becoming an exceptional leader requires hard work and continuous self-improvement. Those who make an effort to develop their leadership skills will become valuable professionals who leave a positive impact on any organization.INTOO’s coaches help employees in every stage of their career develop strategies to meet their goals, while employers reap the benefits of increased engagement, productivity, and retention. Learn more about how our career development programs can benefit your company.
INTOO staff writers come from diverse backgrounds and have extensive experience writing about topics that matter to the HR and business communities, including outplacement, layoffs, career development, internal mobility, candidate experience, succession planning, talent acquisition, and more.