Whether you’re leading a team or an entire organization, there are certain important skills that will help you become a stronger, more impactful leader. This week’s Friday Five covers 5 key skills every leader should strive to master.
In order to lead, one must first take the time to understand those they will be managing. What motivates, inspires and encourages? Taking a dictator-type position will not yield the best results. In fact, the best leadership happens when people follow by choice and are excited to have the opportunity to learn, grow and take direction. Here are a few ways a leader can actively listen:
- Before a project begins, ask team members to share their ideas.
- Use ideas collected from the team to mold your final product. Be sure to give credit where credit is due.
- Ask for feedback and input throughout the life cycle of your projects.
- Be open to constructive criticism and really take it into account.
Being a leader should also mean being a mentor. The best leaders care about those they lead. They take the time to help develop their teams, both personally and as a group. Sharing experience and knowledge, providing constructive feedback and guidance should all play a pivotal role in your leadership style.
A good leader is always seeking new information to increase his or her breadth of knowledge. A leader who thinks he or she is done learning has stopped being a true leader. Pushing oneself, learning new approaches and keeping a pulse on industry changes is a requirement if one hopes to be successful in the long term.
Encouraging inspiration is one of the most difficult challenges every leader faces. Setting deadlines, following up on progress and giving feedback do not a leader make. Instead, your leadership role should focus on pushing the members of your team to challenge themselves. To do this, inspiration must be sparked. Show your team members what they are truly capable of. Provide praise and encouragement as you push them beyond their comfort zone.
5) Follow up
Leadership should never come to an end. Even when a project concludes or you leave your organization, continue to lead. Reflect on your experience, ask for feedback and apply what you’ve learned. This process will allow you to grow and improve as a leader. Continue relationships with those you led and show that your leadership expands beyond the project or company walls.
Of all those who’ve been a leader to you, what attributes stood out the most?
Originally published Oct 25, 2013, updated Sep 20, 2021