“Great leaders are born, not made.” I believed this to be true for most of my career - and it was only recently that I realized how much this society perspective my personal and career growth is. Maybe you, too, fell for the myth that leadership is a skill reserved for the elite, and in the process, transformed itself into a powerful growth opportunity. While we all have the talents and traits inherent in the personality we are born with, some of the most important components of a successful career can be learned, including effective leadership skills. If you want to become more productive and efficient at work and inspire others to do the same, start by focusing on becoming a stronger leader. The good news is, developing these skills does not require a special education or degree, or even a formal leadership title; who is motivated enough to grow can become a leader. In my own travel career, I have noticed some of the most important traits of the greatest leaders in general. Do you want to be one of them? Here are Six Effective Leadership Skills to Adopt and Refine in Your Job Starting Today.
You must have vision to rule well, but you must also know how to communicate effectively. When I first started my company, I was so passionate about my vision. I designed my product with this concept in mind, knowing that it could transform our customers' lives. The hardest part was learning to communicate that vision as I grew my team. It's one thing to inspire people with a big vision when you start a company, but it's a completely separate skill to find creative ways to articulate future plans and rationale for transformation.((Harvard Business Review: as a leader, think about what you say, and how and when you say it)) Good communication is not just the ability to write a good letter or the highlight of a presentation. It's about being able to inspire, motivate and be open minded, even in the grip of day to day work, finding ways to help each team member understand the big picture of where you want to go and how their roles and projects contribute to that.
When I think about effective leadership skills, the first thing I think of is integrity. And I'm not the only one. In one study of 195 executives from 15 organizations, 67 percent of participants rated "high ethical and moral standards" as the most important attribute of leadership. ((Harvard Business Survey: the most important leadership competencies, according to leaders around the world)) Accepting labels or untruthfulness can lead to temporary victory. However, if there's one thing I've learned in my career, it's that cutting corners doesn't lead to long-term success. And it certainly won't be helpful. As author and business leader Jon Huntsman Sr writes in his book winners never cheat, character is the hallmark of a successful leader:((ON: The Importance of Honesty and Integrity in Business))
“There are no moral labels in the game of business or life. There are basically three kinds of people, unsuccessful ones, temporarily successful ones, and those who become and remain successful. Difference of character.
I think integrity is about integrating values with your words, and your words with your actions. When you lead with integrity, you will be able to build trust between your team and your stakeholders, which means they are more likely to go in the direction you steer them.
It's not always easy to make a high-stakes decision, especially if you know people are relying on you to make the right choice. More often than not, the critical decision you make didn't work out as you planned. If this happens, you will have to face another important choice: will you take responsibility? Are you ready to take the blame? And more importantly, will you be motivated to find the best path forward for your team? The ability to make decisions under pressure is an important part of leadership, but the true mark of a decisive leader is not the ability to make the right decision. Great leaders don't just make good decisions for those who lead them; they are also willing to take the risk, knowing that if something doesn't work out, they will be held accountable.((Forbes: Important Qualities That Define Leadership))
Imagine that you are a passenger on a boat. A storm is coming and the waters are getting rougher by the minute. Not only that, but it gets dark and you don't know which way the shore is. Who would you look for a sense of security? A leader is like the captain of a ship. The person at the helm is not only responsible for deciding where the ship is going to end up at the end of the journey, but actually steer in the right direction, even during a storm. This is why focus is such an important part of effective leadership. Great leaders keep their eyes on the path to success, which requires planning ahead, staying organized, and thinking through possible scenarios and outcomes—always looking at other paths if things don't work out.((ON: The 9 Character Traits That Define Leadership))
If you want to encourage others to learn and grow, you must be willing to learn and grow on your own. It requires humility, or a willingness to be flexible, admit that you are wrong, and more importantly, a willingness to learn from other people. Another way to look at humility is learning. Practically, how can you implement this skill in your workplace? Problem solving is a great opportunity to practice being a diligent leader. For example, if you're trying to find a solution to a problem, don't try to push your own program. When the team feels that you are ready (and excited) for your ideas, there will be a greater variety of potentially bold ideas. Plus, when your team knows that you are encouraging free thinking, they are likely to be more motivated to take the lead and work independently in developing their own solutions and ideas.
As a leader, you are privileged to bring out the best in the people around you—a key ingredient to success at your company. But to promote success, you must focus on communication first. Neurology teaches us that if people don't feel emotionally secure, they won't be able to access the creative, strategic part of their brain. Instead, they will be focused on survival - this is not exactly the right way to prosper, in life or at work. It is the responsibility of the leader to facilitate connection and belonging in the workplace so that others can live up to their full potential. To help deepen the bond between your team and enable them to reach their full potential, treat them as people, not just workers. Say hello with a smile. Remember details about your personal life. Praise them when they do well and let them know you see their hard work and contributions. As you build good relationships with your peers, you will be able to live up to your potential as an effective leader.
Additional Tips for Developing Leadership Skills
- 5 signs of positive leadership any leader needs to master
- 12 bad leadership qualities to be aware of
- What Makes a Good Leader: 9 Important Leadership Qualities