Is it possible to develop one’s leadership skills?
The answer is YES!
That being said, it is also true to say that some people have a natural predisposition to be leaders. In their case, leadership abilities are easier to develop, but then again, all of us can develop better leadership skills!
What is leadership? Leadership is an individual’s influence on a group through a mutually trusting relationship, which manifests through the capacity to bring the group together and to make the members become engaged with reaching a common goal.
How can it be developed? Here are 5 areas for development that will allow you to have a more impactful leadership style.
The cornerstone of leadership is knowing yourself. Why? Because a true leader must be conscious of his/her strengths and limitations, be able to re-examine him/herself and, above all, be authentic.
If you want to be trustworthy, be honest. If you want to be honest, be true. If you want to be true, be yourself.
In order to earn employees’ trust, which is the foundation of leadership, it is essential to be true and show authenticity and sincerity while having the courage to be yourself, making yourself somewhat vulnerable in the process. Employees need to know that their leader is no superhero, but a human being just like them. Why? Because this way, they can trust them and help them reach their goals.
But how can this be achieved? There are several ways, but, without a doubt, using a psychometric test is a quick and efficient way of knowing yourself better.
The second essential element for leadership is understanding others. In order to bring a group together and motivate its members, it is crucial to understand these individuals. A classic mistake is to assume that what works with you will necessarily work with others!
What is it that motivates team members? What are their talents? How can you rely on these talents and develop them? How can you empower these individuals and make them autonomous? In order to answer these questions, you have to know these people.
And how can you achieve this? Once again, psychometric tests are an excellent way to do so, but so are compatibility reports, which help you see how collaboration could be improved.
When researching leadership style models, it can get quite confusing as to which ones to apply. Leadership models may vary in the names they use to describe each of their styles and in the quantity of styles they offer, and this can get quite baffling.
When speaking of leadership, intelligence is important, but emotional intelligence is what makes you a true leader!
What is emotional intelligence, exactly? It is a set of skills, both verbal and non-verbal, that allow someone to generate, recognize, express, understand and evaluate their own emotions and those of others. This, in turn, allows them to orient their thoughts and actions in order to face the requirements and pressures of the environment in an optimal way.
To develop emotional intelligence, a leader must first know him/herself well! Why? Simply because someone who is deaf to what they feel remain at the mercy of their feelings. A person must also learn to govern his/her emotions and adapt them to different situations. Finally, one must recognize and understand others’ emotions.
If you are tuned out of your own emotions, you will be poor at reading them in other people.
– Daniel Goleman
Therefore, the foundation of emotional intelligence lies in my two first points: knowing yourself and knowing others better! In addition to that, you need the following abilities: show empathy, develop active listening, know how to manage your own emotions, know how to deal with pressure, know how to communicate, show authenticity and humility, etc.
In leadership, the power to influence resides in the art of negotiation and persuasion with the goal of mutual benefit. Influencing is therefore not about asserting one’s authority or manipulating people. The distinction is important and could tend to promote an unhealthy influential power.
In order to negotiate, you must know how to listen, find a solution that is beneficial to all, establish trust, use compromise, and have a body language that radiates openness.
Then, in order to persuade and convince, you need to have good arguments, be prepared, be based on a solid logic, put the emphasis on positive points, and know how to assert your opinion in an appropriate manner.
“Are leaders born or made? ” This age-old question, which is a little too black-and-white, may have a whole lot of gray. Could it be that some people are born with certain leadership predispositions, an innate leadership blue-print to build on…yes! At the same time, there should exist those who lack these inborn leadership characteristics.
In order to optimize your leadership, it is imperative to move in a specific direction, and you need an objective to accomplish this. But not any objective! There are some that make no sense and others that are neither positive nor constructive.
Ideally, the goal should be constructive, positive and a win-win solution. If your only objective is to make more money or trample others, it unlikely that your employees will follow you in an optimal manner. You might tell me that this happens all the time, just look at the news! But to that I say, while sadly true, that is not leadership; it’s manipulation.
Ideally, in order to have an optimal objective that makes sense and motivates others in the long run, it is beneficial to have strategic vision. How can you develop your strategic vision? You have to learn how to look further, develop a larger field of vision, make connections, get interested in various business areas, think about global issues, analyze the environment, exchange ideas with different conversational partners, get informed, etc.
Knowing how to inspire and motivate is the result of inspiring leadership. Thus, when someone knows themselves well, understands others, shows emotional intelligence, knows how to influence positively and is eager to reach a winning goal, they will know how to inspire and motivate the troops towards the attainment of that goal.