Leadership is not just one skill. It is a catchall term referring to your ability to relate to people in your company. For any professional, honing skills in the leadership category is a must for career advancement.
Getting promoted and being the proud owner of a corner office with your name on the door doesn’t happen by chance. It all starts with your skills. Specifically, your ability to lead.
Luckily, you can learn how to be an effective leader by mastering some skills. Here are the top five areas you need to improve on to become a better manager and be on your way to climb your way up the corporate ladder.
1. Learning Agility
The ability and willingness to learn are two desirable qualities in a leader. As the person in charge of giving direction, leadership involves learning agility and the ability to embrace change.
A study by the Journal of Managerial Issues revealed leadership competence and learning agility are positively correlated.
When it comes to career growth, employees with remarkable learning agility received higher compensation over a ten-year period compared to those with low learning agility. If you are willing to learn to be a better leader, you are on the right track.
2. Emotional Intelligence (EI)
Skills are not enough to make you a leader. It’s also necessary to hone your interpersonal skills. EI is getting more attention after numerous studies in the workplace revealed effective leaders require this skill.
A leader who is emotionally intelligent are more committed, happier, and they achieve greater success in the workplace based on several studies. Using emotions in the right way could result in major improvements in the organization’s function and it could inject a sense of trust and enthusiasm.
Findings by the Swinburne University reveal leaders with high scores on emotional intelligence fall into the category of transformational leaders. These leaders motivate followers to achieve change in the workplace.
To improve your emotional quotient, keep a firm handle on negative emotions. Find ways to keep stress levels under control through working out, meditation, going out for some air. And also putting cold water on your face. All these could help you respond to situations in a more objective way.
As for communicating with people in your division, practice the XYZ technique rather than the “You should” approach. Saying I feel X when you do Y in situation Z will not put a person on defensive mode compared to telling someone “you should do this or that.”
3. Communication Skills
Irrespective of your role in the workplace, having the necessary communication skills for leadership is highly sought after. The modern workplace is far from what it used to be. You would have to send out an e-mail, memo, or report at least once a day.
Due to the changes in the workplace to boost productivity, it’s not unusual for some members of the team to telecommute. With statistics saying employees who work from home are twice as satisfied as those who are required to report every day at the office. Many companies are thinking about adopting a more flexible environment.
To be on top of all these changes, you should be able to communicate your thoughts verbally or in writing. Effective communication can eliminate misunderstanding in the workplace and it could get the message across right away.
Your writing and speaking leadership skills can always use some improvement. Take language or writing courses to boost your communication skills.
If you happen to be in a company where the top management speaks a different language, make an effort to learn that language.
These little things are good investments in your leadership skills. Whether you rise up on the organizational tree or you decide to change jobs, these skills are something you can add to your resume.
4. Constructive Criticism
Giving performance evaluations is one job managers abhor. Leaders play a crucial role in the feedback process and you need to develop a mindset allowing you to voice out your honest opinion on an employee’s performance.
In the ideal environment, employees know what they should be doing and how it should be done. However, based on a survey only 29 percent of the 30,000 respondents were confident about knowing where their performance should be.
Based on this data alone, it’s clear that someone needs to give these people some direction as to how they are performing. Unfortunately, 90 percent of managers are hesitant about providing feedback since they are afraid employees will take it the wrong way.
What these managers fail to see is the need to give constructive criticism to help employees do better. In fact, 30 per cent of people apply the feedback they receive.
To help you provide better feedback, here are some tips:
- Provide feedback right away.
- Give specific feedback with suggestions on what to do next.
- As a rule, positive should be more than or equal to your negative feedback.
- Ask for the person’s perspective and make sure your peer understands your direction.
5. Innovative Thinking
Leadership and innovation are two things that come hand in hand. Being innovative will allow you to finds solutions outside the box.
Innovative leaders are the ones who lead companies to soar greater heights. Innovative leaders will not cross off any alternative without putting some thought on how it could possibly benefit the organization.
An innovative leader has better skills in managing risks. And they are willing to roll out solutions and make adjustments along the way. These leaders are willing to take the risk as long as they can live with the consequences of their actions.
Not only are innovative leaders good in dealing with problems. But they also think every setback is an opportunity. With this mentality, they often find a need and market which means more income for the organization.
Being an innovative thinker will not be easy to acquire but with practice, you can learn to be someone who can deal with workplace issues without losing your cool. This also means getting the ability to keep an open mind.
How would you train to be an innovative leader? You need to start with approaching problems with a win-win solution.
You need to find a solution which is not just ideal for you but also for other members of the organization. By doing so, you can command enough trust and respect to lead people with authority without being aggressive.
Take the Leap
With an open mind and the willingness to learn, you can be successful in whatever career you choose to pursue.
Being a good leader takes time, and experience would be the best way to test your skills. If you want to improve and have a better chance of getting promoted, start honing your skills in these five departments.