Most individuals think that you are simply born a leader. Others think a very high proficiency makes one a leader. Yet others think a good up-bringing, aggressiveness or being a subject matter expert makes one a leader. However, no single trait makes a good leader and these common myths could not be further from the truth. Each and every one of us has the skills to lead, however we rarely put ourselves forward or find ourselves in situations when we have to take this sort of responsibility.
It’s what you keep learning, how you use what you learn, how you use the experience that you’re exposed to-be it in real life or at work, how you react to ad-hoc situations that you face daily that lead to an individual molding into a good leader. It goes without saying that there are certain skills you need to possess to be a leader and each of them are more suited to certain people than others. However to become a great leader it is about having that burning desire to want to continuously improve, keep learning through experiences and hone all the necessary skills.
The following therefore is a list of the so-called skills needed to be a good leader:
This is crucial. A good leader needs to be able to communicate ideas effectively and to have great understanding. You may be excellent at building strategic plans but without having the skills to communicate them effectively you will always fall short. The art of communicating is not only about what you say and how you say it but also about whether the message reaches the recipient in a way that he is able to interpret exactly what you said including the underlying meaning.
Listening skills are important in most parts of life. As a leader you should have the ability to pay attention and understand the underlying meaning of what people want to say and not only what is said. This includes wanting and accepting criticism aimed at you constructively.
The ability to keep your emotions under control is vital. You will have to deal with many different people and situations, a lot of which will most likely put you out of your comfort zone. It is important therefore that you keep calm and collected at all times, think before you speak.
Being self-confident goes a long way. If you appear fully confident then it will rub off on your team making any task a lot easier to accomplish. A certain amount of self-confidence also helps you to assert yourself when the time comes.
Good at Planning
Simply knowing what needs to be achieved is not enough. To be a good leader you need to be able to create a plan of action, very similar to how you/client plan your projects, that will work towards achieving the final goal. A poor plan or vague, non-definitive timelines will scupper the chances for success. Hence, the skill of planning is vital.
Have Respect for Others
You may be in a position of power as a leader but your team will not be willing to follow you if you have no respect for others. Respect goes a long way and the best way to earn it is by respecting others.
Trust is a fragile but very important aspect. Without trust you will never be a good leader. By improving some of the factors listed above it should go a long way to helping build trust quickly.
A strong leader needs to be able to make decisions based on logical reasoning when under pressure. In times of need people will look to you and a split second of doubt or appearing visibly distressed can undo years of hard work in building trust.
What task needs doing first? You need to be able to prioritize tasks based on what you think is most important. The inability to prioritize could lead you to spend 12 hours in office, get 8 hours of work done and yet face questions and frowning looks from your boss on items that were not completed timely. Haven’t we all gone through this in the past? Don’t kid yourself-YOU HAVE.
As a leader it is your duty to keep your team on their toes. Taking a back seat or being lazy creates complacency especially if you’re a senior resource. Therefore it is important you take a pro-active approach.
The beauty of all the aspects listed above is that you can easily train yourself to improve. There are many courses that can help you improve your leadership skills. But let’s be clear and understand that it’s not an attribute one is born with or one happens to possess, but the result of hard work, labor, learning from every experience and understanding what you’ve learnt all put together in a compact, bubbly human being which is YOU. The great thing about taking the decision to improve is that what you learn can be applied to all walks of life. So remember, we all have it in us to be a leader it’s just about bringing out those qualities into practical, real life.