Cultivate Your Leadership Skills

Are you a natural born leader? Or have you been told that you have the skills and mindset of leader? If so than this post is for you. We are talking about taking your innate abilities for leadership and honing them to shape you into a well-rounded leader. A leader that continues to promote growth not only in your team members but in your own personal/professional growth as well.

In his article for the Harvard Business Review, Daniel Goleman, says this about leaders:
“A primary task of leadership is to direct attention. To do so, leaders must learn to focus their own attention. When we speak about being focused, we commonly mean thinking about one thing while filtering out distractions.”

In order for a leader to achieve this he explains the need for the following three elements:
“—focusing on yourself, focusing on others, and focusing on the wider world—sheds new light on the practice of many essential leadership skills. ” Read the full article here.

Effective leadership starts with knowing who you are. Self-evaluation is a key component in building your leadership skills. A part of this self-evaluation is to be self-aware. This is a quality we all need to possess in order to continue learning and improving. It is an important building block for strong leadership because you are the image in which your team will fashion its likeness. A self-aware leader will promote the same in their team. The leadership abilities already exist in you, now it is time for you to take ownership of what your skills are and learn how to best implement those to inspire your team.

Skills that come to mind when thinking about a strong/effective leader include but are not limited to communication, empathy, motivational, organizational, creativity and adaptability. Truthfully the list of skills for a strong leader can be endless. But for the purpose of simply focusing on some of the foundation blocks of leadership lets focus on these skills for now.

Communication is pretty self-explanatory, as a leader to have the ability to succinctly express your vision is of the utmost importance. This is where the wheels of your business start to turn. It is through your ability to effectively communicate the goals and vision for the business. Carmen Jacob curated a list of The 25 Best Books on Communication Skills to Read in 2019

How does empathy factor into strong leadership? There is an argument both for and against being an empathetic leader. Some say there is a danger to being an empathetic leader because it can lead to poor decision making. In his book, Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion, Paul Bloom asks the question, “…how could empathy steer us wrong?” As a leader, this is an important question to ask yourself. How could approaching your leadership style with empathy potentially steer you off course? Paul Bloom says that leading with empathy is short-sighted. He explains decisions made with an empathetic standpoint “leave us insensitive to the long term consequences of our acts and blind as well to the suffering of those we do not or cannot empathize with”

There is truth to his statement, but like everything else in life it comes down to balance. When we lean more to one side on any matter we will become off balance. This is where a leader gains the opportunity to cultivate strong leadership qualities. Taking into account the pros and cons of any leadership style and determining which ones best suite your goals and mission statement as a leader will only help strengthen your leadership abilities. Empathy does have a place in the skills portfolio of a leader. When delivered with team support and motivation in mind an empathetic mindset can go a long way in creating trust and open communication in a working relationship.

Motivational leadership refers to someone leading others by motivating them to strive for certain goals rather than simply act on orders. The leader tries to create a safe and trusting environment, and ensure the organization is positioned for success in its domain.

Definition found in Wikipedia

Motivation plays such a crucial role in the success and productivity of any team. A leader who can keep their team motivated will see in an increase in productivity and team morale.

Keeping you and your team organized is valuable beyond measure. There are so many elements in play for a leader to juggle. Knowing when to delegate is, of course, important but it is so helpful to have resources at your disposal for keeping a visual prompt on how your team is performing. These resources are helpful with everything from planning the daily/weekly tasks of your team to keeping track of short term and long term goals for your business. One such app is Weekdone
Their slogan “Don’t Lose Sight of Your Teams Goals” pretty much sums it up and gives enough reason for implementing their software into your teams work life. However, there are of course numerous other options available to you. You are sure to find a resource that suits you and your teams work style and size. Here is link to investigate other options like Weekdone.

Creativity may be a commonly overlooked skill to possess, but the benefits reaped from a creative leadership style can be substantial. Implementing new and interesting methods of training can ensure your team is performing at an optimal level. Like everything else in life, it is important to keep learning. This is especially true for companies who want to stay cutting edge and ahead of their competitors. In an article written for Bright Hub Project Management, Marjory Pilley lists Ten Best Practices for nurturing creativity through their team leadership strategy. She explains the value of creativity as a valuable skill for a leader to possess.
“According to a study conducted in 2010 by IBM, Capitalizing on Complexity: Insights from the Global Chief Executive Officer Study, creativity is the single most important leadership competency for dealing with the volatile, uncertain and complex world in which we liv
e”. Read the full article here.

Leadership strategy begins with business strategy, and encompasses talent needs, organizational design and culture to be effective.

Only this type of holistic approach bridges the gap between strategy and performance and enables optimal outcomes on an organization’s most pressing business challenges.

Center for Creative Leadership, from

Adaptability is one of the last skills we will discuss here. As we mentioned before as a leader it is all about continuing to grow and not only hone your existing skill set but also continue to learn new skills as well.
“…adaptability in the field of organizational management can, in general, be seen as an ability to change something or oneself to fit to occurring changes”. -Wikipedia

As you continue to grow as a leader your team will in turn benefit from your ongoing direction and relevant leadership style/strategy.

Additional Reading:

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