Leadership and navigation is the most critical competency for businesses now and in the next decade, according to a recent Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) survey.
However, this competency – which they define as “the ability to direct and contribute to initiatives and processes within the organization” – is something most employees and job candidates lack.
It’s estimated that 3.6 million baby boomers are going to retire in 2016. This means businesses will be replacing a lot of senior leaders and managers. If you aspire to hold a leadership role, now is the time to sharpen your skill set.
Here are ten ways to become a better leader, no matter what stage you’re at in your career:
1. Work on your soft skills. Effective leaders are expert communicators and listeners. They’re self-confident and self-aware. While technical skills and experience are important, you won’t progress very quickly until you master these soft skills.
2. Develop the right mindset. Leaders have can-do attitudes. They’re focused on the success of all, and they give credit where it’s due. In a nutshell, if you’re not a team player – become one!
3. Improve your project management skills. Almost every organization uses project teams, especially when it comes to process improvement and cross-functional initiatives. Read books, take classes, volunteer to lead projects with increasing levels of responsibility and earn your project management certification – so you learn the skills for yourself and will be able to coach others.
4. Earn respect from co-workers. Even if you’re at the bottom of the career ladder, you can start your leadership journey now by earning the respect of colleagues. Lead by example, always do your best and constantly strive to learn and be better.
5. Learn from leaders who inspire you. I’m a huge advocate for the benefits of mentorship. But until you find the right one, learn by listening to and asking questions of those around you — a boss, parent, senior colleague or even by reading a book by a notable leader like Sheryl Sandberg.
6. Be adaptable in the face of change. Great leaders can change course quickly and stay cool, calm and collected when facing uncertainty and adversity. This skillset doesn’t happen overnight! It takes a lot of practice, so accept the challenges that come your way, and debrief with yourself often to learn and improve for the next time.
7. Lift up your co-workers. Be the person who inspires those around you to do great work. This could be as simple as giving a compliment or sharing an interesting article that might fire up your teammates.
8. Be a strategic thinker and solve problems. Companies and people turn to leaders to implement change for the better. Hone your strategic mind and train yourself to seek solutions when faced with problems.
9. Learn to delegate. This is where many first-time managers fall down. Facilitate the success of others instead of micromanaging tasks, and you’ll grow leaps and bounds as a leader.
10. Have humility. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Take the blame where you deserve it. And recognize that you aren’t and will never be 100% perfect. These qualities make a leader trustworthy and likeable.
By Lisa Quast
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