Leadership skills are vital to career success. There are many different ways to make a living. In each the path to long-term success is different, but the ability to lead is common to all paths. Whatever your career, you will eventually be called on to assume the mantle of leadership. Will you be able to answer the call?
If you are like most people, you have some worries about your ability to lead. Born leaders are very rare. Luckily, leadership skills can be improved with time and effort. The weaknesses and flaws you detect in your leadership abilities need not be permanent.
Here are four methods to be a stronger leader.
An effective leader is someone who the entire team can have faith in. For your followers to have confidence in you, you must first have confidence in yourself. Personal weakness and doubt will spread like a disease to your subordinates, harming your team’s effectiveness.
Of course, being confident in yourself is easier said than done. If you are having doubts, reflect on all the reasons why you should have faith in yourself. It’s neither a coincidence nor luck that you are the one in charge. You are there because of the skills and accomplishments you’ve displayed throughout your career.
Everyone, even the most successful people, have moments of self-doubt and low confidence. The key is to not be stopped by these moments of weakness. Maintain an outward appearance of calm and confidence, and soon your normal assuredness will return. Don’t let worry and anxiety paralyze you: choose the option that seems best and proceed forward.
It’s a leader’s task to assign duties to their subordinates. For a team to be productive, clear goals are needed. These can only come from the person in command. Workers do a better job if they know exactly what is expected of them — without a clear idea of what qualifies as success, no one will perform well.
Bad bosses will often set vague goals and give unclear instructions, leaving their subordinates in confusion. Worse, some bad managers use their poor communication as an excuse to blame their employees when things go wrong.
Few sets of people naturally work in perfect accord with each other, so it’s up to you to mold the individuals under your command into a cohesive whole. Each person must know exactly the role they play in the group. Leaders exist to bind disorganized groups into teams. Ideally, a team will function as if they share one mind — it’s your job to set the standards and expectations that make this sort of functioning possible.
Formulate a Vision
The leader is the member of the team who needs to look farthest into the future. As the person in charge, you must have a vision for where the group is headed. What are your long-term goals? What are the strategies that will take you there?
While your subordinates can focus on daily tasks, someone has to be guiding the group forward on a long-term basis. As leader, you won’t be in charge of every tiny detail — it’s the big picture that demands your attention. Imagine your team is a ship, with you as the captain. The captain of a ship must steer the vessel and determine its final destination.
Remember, you are the only one who can decide the team’s future goals. Be strong and confident, but careful too. Bad managers take a haphazard approach to planning. Your plans should be detailed, yet still flexible and able to handle contingency. A coherent vision for the future will also help you direct each individual’s efforts now.
Inspire and Motivate
A big part of being a leader is planning and assigning duties, but motivation is just as important. Workers are not robots. Your staff members need to feel that their work is important, that their efforts are valued, and that they play an integral part in the group.
In general, it’s best to be positive and encouraging. As the one setting expectations and assessing performance, it’s vital that each of your followers knows you believe in them. The goals assigned for each person should be challenging and tough but at the same time well within their abilities. Knowing their boss has faith in them can help your subordinates believe in themselves. A little coaching and positivity might be all a subpar worker needs to be more efficient.Positivity is best even when a team member has failed. Negative performance assessments should be viewed as a chance for growth. The purpose should not be to browbeat your follower, but simply to show where they went wrong and how they can improve. Communicate that you are disappointed but that you know they can do better next time.
Positivity is best even when a team member has failed. Negative performance assessments should be viewed as a chance for growth. The purpose should not be to browbeat your follower, but simply to show where they went wrong and how they can improve. Communicate that you are disappointed but that you know they can do better next time.
Leadership is not easy. When things go awry, the person in command is usually blamed. Taking on a role of greater responsibility and challenge requires self-confidence and courage. You will probably make mistakes; no one is the ideal leader. Don’t let these mistakes slow you down. Look at them as opportunities for improvement. Perfecting your leadership skills will be a lifelong effort; there will always be room to get better. Use the four methods described above to help you on your way.
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