Every business, organization, and club needs good leaders in order to thrive. Similarly, every person in a leadership position needs strong skills in order to be successful in their role. If you have been working in the same company or industry for a few years and feel as though you’re ready to progress to the next level of your career, you may well be considering applying for a managerial job. This can be a great way to improve your employability, job security, and financial stability—meaning that such leadership positions also tend to be very competitive.
So, how can you boost your chances of landing that promotion or getting a new job? One top tactic is to prioritize working on your leadership skills.
What skills are required to become a good leader?
While there is some variation according to the industry that you work in or the type of company that you’re employed by, the majority of skills that a good leader needs will be the same for almost everyone. The following are some of the most important talents and attributes you should be looking to develop or strengthen. Whether you work in car insurance Austin TX, a social media platform in San Francisco CA, or a coffee company in Boulder CO, these will almost certainly be of use to you:
- Interpersonal skills to work with people (either colleagues, clients, or customers) from all different backgrounds, generations, and temperaments—including those you might not like
- The ability to motivate and inspire those who work for you
- Presentation and communication skills (both written and verbal) in order to disseminate information, elicit input, and give feedback—including passing on negative news and unpopular decisions
- A talent for mediating and resolving conflict
- The ability to respond to external changes appropriately and effectively
- The ability to generate positive internal changes where needed
- Strong decision-making and problem-solving skills—plus the confidence to see your ideas through to completion
- Financial literacy
- Digital literacy
- Compassion and empathy to relate to everyone on your team and understand their unique needs
- The ability to function as part of a team, and know when to defer to others
- Competence in dealing with a range of administrative tasks
- A wide variety of transferable skills—including but not limited to—time management, self discipline, organization, adaptability, and analytical thinking
Now that you know the sort of skills that are needed in order to become a good leader, it’s time to assess your current strengths and weaknesses. Make a list of all the areas in which you feel you need to improve, and use that as a basis for deciding your next course of action. It might be that you already work in a leadership role and there are only one or two skills in which you fall short, or perhaps you’re just starting out and want to get better at all of them. Either way, be honest in your assessment otherwise it won’t help you. Once you’ve decided what you want to work on, let’s move on to how you can do it!
How can I boost my leadership skills?
Reading the above list of necessary leadership skills might feel intimidating, but don’t worry. There are many different and effective ways in which you can improve all of them. The options that are best for you will depend on a few factors such as time, budget, your preferred learning style, and your specific career aspirations. Here are a few ideas to get you inspired, but don’t be afraid to mix and match in order to forge your own path!
Take an online course
These days the popularity of virtual learning is booming, and there are a huge number of courses you can take to improve your leadership skills. These include both broad curriculums that cover lots of different aspects of leadership, as well as those with a narrower focus which hone in on one or two specific skills. This gives you lots of scope to find a program which truly suits your needs and current ability level. They often tend to be self-directed, too, making it easy to fit them around your existing work schedule and other commitments.
Create your own study program
If a structured course doesn’t appeal to you or you can’t find one that meets your exact requirements, why not put together your own study program? You can do this by finding blogs and videos online, as well as useful podcasts and books to learn from. This method takes a bit more effort and self discipline, but it enables you to tailor your learning to perfectly meet your needs and also only use resources and materials that genuinely interest you.
Find a mentor
If you want to learn directly from an expert and benefit from a truly personal touch, finding a mentor could be ideal. This can be someone working within your company, or from a different business within your industry. It could even be someone from a separate industry altogether, because it’s the more general leadership skills you’re hoping to work on with them. The best advice is to look for someone who embodies the same sort of leadership style that you’re hoping to emulate, then reach out via email or social media. Send a polite message asking if they would be willing to meet with you in exchange for a cup of coffee, or even just to have a quick chat online. It’s helpful to have a concise “elevator pitch” about what you’re willing to put into the arrangement and what you’re hoping to get from them.
Learn on the job
In many cases, nothing beats real-world experience. Once you start looking, you’ll likely find plenty of opportunities to boost your leadership skills in your current job role. For example, you could volunteer for any extra responsibilities when they’re offered, ask for feedback from your manager and team members, and try to proactively take part in meetings and other initiatives that you’re involved with. This can also demonstrate to your boss that you’re serious about your personal development.
Learn outside of work
The fact that you’re hoping for a leadership role at work doesn’t mean that work is the only place you can develop your skills. Look for opportunities in your community too, for example by volunteering with a local charity or helping out at your child’s school. Not only can this improve your leadership abilities, it’s also a way to give back and make a positive difference in the world. Plus it looks great on your résumé next time you apply for a promotion!
Why are leadership skills important?
So why does all of this matter? Simply put, being a true leader takes more than a job title. In order to genuinely help your company to thrive, you need to put in a lot of hard work and dedication and become the best that you can possibly be. That way, you will be able to inspire those who work for you to do the same, and keep all of your employees striving to achieve the vision of your business. It’s also how you can create a team that truly functions well together, and in turn contribute to a wider positive work culture in your company. These skills are more than just buzz words, and recognizing that puts you well on your way to getting to where you want to be. So knuckle down, boost your talents, and you’ll soon be in a position where you can put them to good use!