We often associate leadership skills with those in management positions or high-ranking roles. However, these skills do not need to be limited to a select few. While you may not have a team to manage, leadership skills play a crucial role in your professional career. Whether it’s influencing others, taking initiative or driving projects forward, honing your leadership abilities can enhance your effectiveness and open doors to new opportunities.
Below are five leadership skills and how you can master them.
1. Develop Self-Awareness
Self-awareness is about understanding your true self inside and out. Having a solid grasp of who you are is as important as knowing the areas you need to improve. But why is self-awareness so important for career advancement, and what does it have to do with leadership?
A leader’s success often lies in his or her ability to bring people together for the advancement of a common goal. When you’re self-aware, you know your own strengths and weaknesses. This helps you effectively collaborate with a diverse group of people and combine their unique abilities with yours. By working together in such a close-knit manner, you can unleash the full potential of the team.
Now that you know what self-awareness is and why it’s important, what can you do to cultivate it?
Reflect on your life journey by answering these questions:
- Who are you?
- What are the values you’re grounded by?
- What motivates you?
- What does success mean to you?
Answering these questions will help define a road map for career advancement and a pathway to developing your leadership journey.
2. Learn Charisma
Good communication skills are, without a doubt, one of the most desired qualities in professionals and leaders. However, many people often wonder how they can ensure others listen to, understand and act on what they’re saying. Looking at great leaders, we can find the answer: Be charismatic.
While charisma is sometimes misunderstood as a quality that some people embody and others don’t, according to Harvard Business Review it can be easy to learn—and it’s not just about changing your tone or using facial expressions and hand gestures. So, how do you display charisma? Let’s break it down into three things you can do:
- Help your audience understand, relate to, and remember your message by using metaphors, similes and analogies.
- Engage your audience by asking rhetorical questions. While the answers might seem obvious, they help the audience bridge the gap in order to understand complex ideas.
- Break down concepts using three-part lists (just like this one). This can be an effective way to communicate complex ideas.
3. Build Strong Relationships
Once you’ve improved your internal leadership skills, it’s time to turn outward. Many organizations use teams to work on projects. A high-performing team has a strong sense of shared creation and responsibility. So, how do you build this team cohesion? Build strong relationships on the pillars of trust.
- Making the first move is key. Start by extending trust to others.
- Concern for others is a clear signal of your trustworthiness. Understand what is important to your teammates, and let them know they can count on you.
- Empathy plays an important role in fostering collaboration. Listen to your teammates actively when they share something personal, and be empathetic.
- Competence is an important factor in building trust. Share the lessons you have learned and the connections and resources you have gained through your experiences.
4. Master the Science of Persuasion
Persuading others is an important skill that successful leaders carry in their utility belt. While many believe persuasion is something that can be achieved only by charismatic people, research shows that you can be more persuasive by using the following principles.
- People are more likely to follow you if they like you. Build connections and develop relationships, based on trust and goodwill, with your peers, colleagues and managers.
- People believe in reciprocity. Treat others as you would like to be treated.
- Social proof guides people’s actions. Enlisting your peers to your cause can certainly help create influence.
- People put in extra effort to fulfill promises they’ve made voluntarily and explicitly. Have clear communications about work, where the requirements are clearly stated and understood by key stakeholders, and people will be more eager and willing to commit to tasks.
- People defer to experts. Find authentic ways to establish your expertise instead of assuming it’s self-evident.
- Scarce information is of high value. To create influence during conversations, bring in insights that might not be widely available to create influence during conversations.
5. Create a Personal Leadership Narrative
While we learn leadership qualities from our leaders, mentors, coaches and peers, our life experiences create our own unique leadership style and narrative. Our own life stories are full of experiences that can inspire and drive us to step forward and lead.
- Learn from your own life story.
- Know your authentic self.
- Practice your values and principles.
Want to become an effective leader? Check out NAIT’s Leadership Development certificate on D2L Wave and begin your leadership journey today.
If your organization doesn’t have D2L Wave, now’s the time to get it. It’s a free-to-use upskilling education platform that connects employees to professional development opportunities, including top-tier leadership training. Check out D2L Wave today.
Samarth Mehrotra is a seasoned marketing strategy consultant and a full-time student at the UBC Sauder School of Business, set to complete his master’s degree in Business Administration in 2023. With experience as a D2L co-op, he has collaborated on diverse marketing approaches, including content creation, performance measurement, and strategy development. Samarth’s enthusiasm for marketing drives him to craft effective go-to-market campaigns while continuously honing his creative skills.
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