Just as John F. Kennedy said, “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.”
A leader never stops learning and encourages the people around them to do the same.
There’s a long-time debate of whether leaders are born, or if one can become a leader through education, practice, and implementation. Although some people may be born with more personality traits of a leader, it is also possible to become a good leader by developing those skills.
1) Strategic Communication
Communication is key when it comes to being successful. Whether you believe you are a good communicator or not, there are probably areas you can improve on. Maybe you excel with verbal communication, but when it comes to written communication, the message gets lost in translation.
When you are speaking and you are starting to get lost, learn how to pause and regain your thoughts. Experts say a 3-5 second pause is plenty of time to help you regather your thoughts. Aim to over-communicate with your work team and in your personal life. Start learning how to say exactly what you are thinking. Don’t give details that are unrelated or unnecessary, but give all the important details.
As a leader, you must provide performance management solutions, and it takes great communication skills to do so. Leaders are required to speak up even when it’s hard, so practicing how to be a tactful communicator is imperative.
2) The Ability to Inspire
There’s a quote that says, “Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care”. A huge component to being able to inspire others is to show that you truly care about them. You must leave your own ego behind and put other’s interests at the top of your list. One way to inspire others is by believing in them and being able to see them as who they can become. If you see someone for their potential and empower them, it is inspirational. Stop giving people a play book of exactly what they need to do, and instead give them a direction and the confidence that they can achieve whatever they set their mind to.
If your team is struggling, think about holding a team building seminar where you can get your group together. Ignite passion by showing your passion and enthusiasm for your team and company. Actively listen to what people are saying and see what you can do to improve negative feedback, and continue to do things that are being praised. With practice, forward thinking, and great listening, you will begin to inspire the people around you.
3) Problem Solving
Another important leadership skill that one must have to be successful is the ability to problem solve. To learn how to problem, solve, you must learn some techniques. Neuroscientists have proven that your brain cannot find solutions if you are only focusing on the problem. You don’t have to ignore problems, but instead of having huge negative feelings about them, begin to have conversations about solutions. You can think of the problems neutrally so your mind isn’t triggering that it is scary or a problem.
Another tip to becoming a problem solver is to have an open mind. Make a list of every single possible solution, including the dumb and outlandish ones. This helps your mind become more creative and this can potentially trigger real solutions. Don’t ridicule yourself for coming up with these “dumb” solutions because one idea always leads to another.
Lastly, change the way you are thinking, and try thinking laterally. “You cannot dig a hole in a different place by digging it deeper.” Look at things in a different way and see them in a new perspective. Use language like “what if” instead of closed, negative language like, “I don’t think”.
4) The Will to Persist
What does it take to be a leader? Willingness to go beyond where others will stop. Some people are naturally more persistent, but there are ways to ensure that you will be more persistent.
One way to stay more persistent is by keeping a positive mental attitude. On your path to being successful, there will be bumps, and turns, and challenges. There will be times where you face failure, and if you succumb to negative thoughts, you will give up.
5) Finding Your Drive
To develop the persistence, you to eventually succeed, along with maintaining a positive mindset, you need to determine your motivation.
A deep motivation will give you the energy to keep going and moving. Knowing what motivates you gives you the why to be persistent, and having action steps will be the how you’ll get to your success. When you know why and how you are going to get to where you want to be, it makes it easier to do so.
Annabelle Smyth is a freelance writer who covers everything from HR to technology and leadership skills. Her most recent work involves partnership marketing with BambooHR and CMOE where she has had the opportunity to learn about the relationship between leadership and successful businesses.