Whether you are in college or entering the working world, there will be situations that require you to step up as a leader. Even outside of your career, there are moments in life where you may depend on your leadership skills to uplift those around you. Let’s take a look at how you can develop your leadership skills while answering the burning question: why is leadership important?
What is Leadership?
There is no exact definition for what a leader does. Each leader’s style of leadership is influenced by their personality and the challenges that they are faced with.
There are, however, some qualities that all good leaders share. They are:
The Importance of Leadership
There are a number of functions that leadership plays in ensuring the smooth operation of an organization.
1. Initiate Action
A good leader is a person who actually starts the work that an organization needs to get done. They will explain the plan of action to their subordinates and communicate policies that will need to be complied with when getting the work done.
2. Offer Guidance
While their subordinates may be the ones to execute tasks, leaders need to be there for them in case they require assistance along the way. A good leader makes sure to provide guidance for others so that they can complete tasks effectively and with minimal hassle.
A great leader can motivate others to realize their full potentials and get the job done. There are a number of ways in which a leader can inspire others to use their initiatives for the good of the company. This includes potential promotions, pay raises, and other job perks.
4. Instill Confidence
While some team members may express self-doubts when approaching new challenges, a good leader will do their best to provide them with confidence. Listen to team members’ complaints and issues while readily providing positive feedback on a job well done. Remember to show faith in employees’ abilities.
5. Build Morale
In order for employees to effectively cooperate with one another, they need to have the willingness to do so. A big part of earning their willingness to cooperate is by building morale. An effective leader can boost morale so their team can achieve optimal cooperation.
6. Be Role Models
Subordinates look towards their leaders as an example of how to act. A good leader will show their subordinates the right way to behave and instill enthusiasm for the work they are doing. If leaders are humble and accountable, subordinates will also learn to behave this way.
Leaders can also provide team members with a good feel for the company culture in the process.
Leaders can bring together team members in order to work towards a common goal. This is achieved by coordinating the efforts of different team members and ensuring that they align their personal interests with organizational goals.
8. Spotting Talent
Effective leaders are able to recognize the potentials of team members and will have the ability to select the right people for the right jobs. This will then allow leaders to trust the people they have appointed to get the job done correctly.
9. Public Image
Leaders are not only responsible for managing their teammates. They are also responsible for ensuring that their organizations have a positive public image. As spokespersons, good leaders will be sure to present their organizations in a positive light when spending time in the public eye.
10. Improved working environment
By effectively performing the other functions that have been listed above, leaders can provide team members with a more positive and productive working environment.
Is Leadership a Natural Skill?
There are certainly people who are born with traits that help them to become great leaders. Having an outgoing personality can help people to become comfortable in the presence of others and allow them to take charge.
It is important to note, however, that many leadership skills can be developed over time. All you need is the right training and the dedication to succeed.
Many organizations offer leadership training to their employees, while schools and universities often offer leadership programs as well. There are also many leadership courses offered online and in-person. This means that even if you feel that you do not naturally possess leadership qualities, it is never too late to learn them.
How to Develop Leadership Skills
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Even if you are not currently in a leadership position, there are a number of ways that you can develop your leadership abilities.
1. Develop discipline
Discipline is a trait that both leaders and employees need to possess. You can develop your discipline in a number of ways, such as by meeting work deadlines, sticking to your work commitments, and showing up at the office on time for work.
2. Take on more responsibilities
To be a leader means being responsible for others as well as yourself. Asking to receive more responsibilities at work is a great way of preparing yourself for the increased sense of responsibility that you will have once you become a leader. Also, by showing your ability to take on more responsibility, you can convince your employers that you would be a suitable choice for future job promotions.
3. Learn to listen
Sometimes, it is wise to listen to other people as a means of learning new things and improving the work environment. A good leader is open to hearing feedback, criticism, and suggestions from their team members. This helps them to learn from their past errors.
4. Build awareness
To be a good leader, you will need to start looking at the bigger picture. Think of the potential problems that could arise in different situations, and develop solutions to combat them in the case that they occur.
5. Inspire others
Do your best to motivate and encourage teammates to succeed. This could be done by complimenting them on a job well done, and by providing them with encouragement and guidance whenever necessary.
6. Keep learning
The more you learn about new things, the better you can prepare for tackling new challenges that come your way in the future.
7. Empower others
Delegate some tasks to other people on your team. Not only will it be beneficial to give tasks to people who specialize in them, but it also helps to alleviate pressure from yourself.
8. Resolve conflicts
As a leader, it is important to remember that your team members will not get along all of the time. Be prepared to speak to team members privately in order to help resolve their problems. Also, consider assigning team members to other roles if you cannot manage to resolve the conflict.
9. Keep a journal about your career
Write down all of your work experiences so that you can reflect on them later. This will allow you to track your accomplishments as well as your failures. By doing so, you can determine which areas you are performing well in as well as where you need to improve.
10. Find your passion
In order to be enthusiastic about your leadership position, you will have to be passionate about what you do. Think about what your passions are and try to find work within those areas. If you are unsure about what your passion is, this worksheet should provide you with clarity!
11. Become a leader outside of work
If you find that your job does not allow you the opportunity to become a leader, consider joining a nonprofit organization or a sports team. Doing these things will allow you the opportunity to collaborate with other people and practice your leadership skills.
12. Observe teams you’re involved in
A lot of skills can be learned by observing the behavior of others. If you are currently involved in a team, then be sure to observe the behavior of your team’s leader. See which of their actions work and which ones don’t, and try to learn from their mistakes so that you don’t make them yourself.
Importance of Leadership in Life
1. In Business
Leaders are able to establish a vision for the company and unite the organization under it. Leadership includes being open to learning new things, meaning that entrepreneurs can develop new ways of thinking so that they can avoid past mistakes.
2. In Management
In order to constantly achieve customer satisfaction, leaders need to keep staff members motivated so that they can remain motivated to deliver the best products and services possible.
3. In the Workplace / Team
Today’s workplace is filled with stress. It is therefore important that leaders build unity and enthusiasm amongst their team members. Leaders are at the forefront of creating a positive working environment where team members can feel comfortable with sharing ideas with their leaders.
4. In Education
Giving students leadership skills is what enables them to pursue their goals. It provides them with the confidence to take action, regardless of whether or not they know that such actions will indeed be successful.
5. In Society
Leaders inspire members of society to pursue their dreams. Whenever there are activities aimed at uplifting the community, leaders are the ones who are ensuring their success. By getting involved in important causes, leaders influence others to do the same.
6. In Everyday Life
Leadership is something that you implement in your everyday life, even if you don’t realize it. Examples include creating to-do lists, preparing children for school, tutoring others, and taking steps to care about your environment.
Common Leadership Mistakes
It is important to remember that, even after developing your leadership skills, mistakes can be made. While confidence is important, overconfidence can lead to issues, particularly if you think you can handle every situation on your own. It is important that you remember to listen to others, be open to suggestions, and embrace new learning opportunities.
Where Can You Learn Leadership Skills?
There a number of places where you can learn leadership skills.
First, you could take a leadership personality test. This will show you your leadership strengths and weaknesses. Here’s just one example of a leadership personality test.
There are also a number of books focused on leadership. Leadershift, by John C. Maxwell, is a highly-recommended book available online.
Finally, you could choose to pursue a university degree with a focus on leadership. This will allow you the opportunity to take classes that are focused on providing you with the fundamentals needed for developing your leadership skills.
The University of the People’s Business Administration degrees include leadership as part of their courses, and can also be completed from your laptop in your own time!