How to Improve Your Leadership Skills

Are you looking for a management position, either now or at some point in the future?  Would you like to improve your leadership skills?  Here are some tips that may help: 

Listen to the people that you are supervising.

If they feel that they have your ear, the people that you are supervising will be more than willing to communicate with you.  By listening to what they have to say, you will be more responsive to their needs, you will make them feel respected, and you will probably hear some good ideas.

Build your confidence.  If you don’t have confidence in yourself, you will always be a weak leader.  Believe in yourself, your skills, and your ability to lead, and your team will rally behind you.   

Make a plan.  Whenever you are working to achieve a goal, it helps to have an action plan that outlines the steps that you will take to get there.  When you are leading a team, an action plan is absolutely essential.  An action plan ensures that everyone is on the same page, it focuses the team’s energy, and it lets everyone know what to expect.

Delegate tasks.  To be an effective leader, you need to be willing and able to delegate tasks to your team. A manager who does everything themselves will not be able to accomplish much.  When you delegate, it is important that you give your team the space that they need to complete the task.  In some cases, this may even mean allowing them to make mistakes.   

Set the standard.  You should always do your best, achieve your targets, and expect nothing less from your team.  You are not doing anyone any favours by accepting unprofessional behaviour or substandard performance.     

Motivate your team.  Take the time to motivate your team.  Schedule team building activities and provide recognition and rewards for hard work and significant accomplishments.    

Allow the individuals on your team to develop themselves.  As much as possible, assign your members tasks based on their interests and their skill sets.  Give them the opportunity to grow professionally, and show them that they are also appreciated individually.     

Always treat your team with compassion and respect.  When you are working under a strict deadline or other pressures, there can be a temptation to forgo social niceties in order to get the job done.  Be careful with this; there is a fine line between being task-oriented and disrespecting people.  Never compromise on the level respect that you show your coworkers, regardless of the circumstances.  With a strong team (and an atmosphere of respect within your team ) you will be able to weather any storm.  Also keep in mind that as the leader, you set the tone for the team; if you are being disrespectful to your team members, then there is a good chance that they will also be disrespectful to each other.   

Ask for feedback.  If you aren’t confident in your leadership skills, ask for feedback from your colleagues or from people who you worked with in the past.  Other people are able to see both weaknesses and strengths that we aren’t able to identify ourselves.

Leadership is not easy, but it’s also not complicated.  Most of the traits that you need to be a good leader are probably traits that you have developed while working with other people.  Be confident, be respectful, have a plan, and most importantly, be yourself.  In the words of Jack Welch, “Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.”

(Written by: Karen Bivand, Photo From: Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

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