Leadership skills are invaluable in today’s corporate environment. But what’s the best way to participate in leadership development? Fortunately, leadership skills can be developed across a wide array of situations, because people management is ubiquitous in all situations. Here are five important steps.
Developing leadership skills takes time.
- Start a process
First, recognize that leadership is a process. You need to start small, according to the Harvard Business Review. Develop one leadership skill at a time, receive feedback, and refine it over time. Let’s say, for example, that you want to guide a team to work more productively together. How would you begin? What are the first steps? What would you implement the steps? How would you review them?
Perhaps you see a team whose productivity is being sapped by overly long meetings that tend to bog down. Not only are the meetings a time-waster, but the format tends to build some hostility between team members. Would you eliminate meetings? Pare them down to much shorter sessions? Try to reduce bad feelings among team members another way? How would you gauge what had worked?
Obtain feedback both from those you’re leading and mentors.
- Find a mentor
One of the best ways to develop leadership is to approach a mentor who has been there and can offer support. A mentor can provide opportunities and feedback and broach your case to higher levels of management. Aspirants should review their professional network and their organization for potential mentors, according to Forbes.
- Obtain feedback
One of the keys to leadership is getting feedback. Ask both upper-level managers and team members specifically to find out what could have been done better and what went smoothly – and what they learned from.
In any new system, some people likely benefit, but some may feel a loss. Say that team member who felt frustrated by long meetings appreciates your leadership, but others feel deprived of an outlet. Can you devise a system that would help them feel heard as well?
- Share your secrets
If you are leading a team to more productivity, it helps if you can share productivity tips. To the degree that you can share tips that you use yourself, you’ll be viewed as both helpful and authentic. People like to be led by those who are helpful and authentic.
Meetings can benefit from a circulated agenda and a time-keeper who keeps presentations to an agreed-upon length. If you’ve worked at a company where this system has worked effectively, share that and suggest the team follow a similar set-up.
- Reflect on what you’ve done and learned
Once you’ve developed an initiative, implemented it, put it into practice, and solicited feedback, take some time to reflect on what you’ve learned in terms of business strategy. Share the reflection with your mentor. What went well and can become part of your leadership style? What needed to be improved? Think about how you might develop improvements.
- Read and discuss
There’s a wealth of literature and information out there on leadership. Read books. Discuss with your mentor and colleagues what these books present and how you might implement new ideas or approaches going forward.