We are led to believe that leadership is a quality that is reserved for a select few. That it is a gift that either you have or don't have. We'd like you to consider that leadership is like a muscle. If you work on it, you can develop it. All of us are capable of being leaders in our own right. Many of us are already leaders. If you are a parent, manage a home, lead a project, or even are a solopreneur, you are a leader already. You may not be leading a large group of people yet, but you are already a leader.
All good leaders invest in developing themselves. Learning new skills and management techniques that can help them help others. Be it reading a new book, take a class, or even just reading an article on developing the leader within you (much like this one) are all crucial to being a better leader. In this article, we will talk about small but important steps you can take to become a better leader.
All leaders have a deep understanding of who they are. They are comfortable in their skin and often take steps to understand themselves better. There are many ways to learn more about yourself. For instance, you can take leadership tests or even other standardized tests to see what motivates you. What type of leader are you? What is your approach to getting things done?
You can learn more about yourself by also practicing meditation and other spiritual practices. You will learn more about yourself by diving deeper. These practices will not only help you understand yourself better but also make you centered and calm. These skills are extremely vital when you have to guide others during a stressful situation.
These practices also develop an important life skill - self-love. Accepting and embracing who you are, as you are is extremely important for any leader. You want to like yourself before anyone else likes you. But self-love is deeper than that. It build integrity within which is reflected in all your relationships without.
...and achieve them on time. Even if you aren't a leader yet, get the practice of setting goals and working towards them. This will help you to think ahead, plan, chart a course, and also get things done. Make sure that the practice goals you set are achievable and reasonable. Start with smaller goals and tasks first and then take on more challenging assignments. While doing this exercise can be fun, remember that you cannot achieve your goals at the expense of your health or relationships.
If you fail to achieve your planned goal then don't just get on to the next one or even waddle in self-pity. Take the time to understand why you were not able to achieve your goal. What went wrong? Were you overly ambitious? Did you not bake in the time for relaxation? Were your goals not measurable? Were they not clear? A big part of leading is to learn the lesson when you fail so you can avoid the same mistake again.
Work on your communication skills
Communication is key when you want to lead. The most important communication skill is to learn to listen to others. Not just with your years but also with your eyes. Observe the body language, facial expressions, and gestures. Try to really listen to the person you are talking to. Don't just listen to what is said but also think back to what is left unsaid. Make the person you are talking to heard.
On the other hand, you also need to work on your speaking and writing skills. Writing better emails, being able to talk over the phone/video call, and talking to someone in person are equally important. You can practice talking in front of the mirror and understand how you are coming across to others. If you think that being a leader in the role you want to be in requires public speaking, you can even join the local debate clubs, Toastmasters, or other such courses that help you learn how to speak in public.
Connect with people
Being a leader is people business. Connecting with people and spending time with them becomes extremely important. Going out of your way to talk to people has many advantages. First of all, you get to meet a lot of people and actually understand them. Many of these relationships tend to become lifelong friendships. If that is far-fetched, then talk to people so you can better your communication skills. If you are in a large corporate setting, it may help to have great relationships with colleagues. Not only does that make your work-life fun, but it also makes it productive and satisfying. But it's not just talking to people you work with. It's about talking to people from all walks of life. be it on the metro, shared cab, or in a waiting line, strike up0a conversation with someone. Get to know them and understand them. If you can make them feel better for a moment or even smile, that's an added bonus :)