The pursuit for stand-out leadership skills is all the rage at the moment. There are countless LinkedIn posts preaching the best qualities and wise sayings that describe the effect they have.
You’ll have heard it all before. Clear communication, strong people skills, good decision making, and so much more.
But there’s a stark problem with all of this. Nobody explains how to work on attaining those skills.
That’s why this article goes into the details you need for success. We’ll explore how to develop leadership skills that promote a healthy and prosperous working environment.
Paul Simon’s lyric: “I am a rock, I am an island” may have been sung with power and confidence, but the song itself reflects a recluse shying away from the world. So using the song as advice for how to develop leadership skills is a big no-no.
At the core of any good leadership skill set is the ability to build strong, trusting relationships with the same objective in mind. This entails good communication skills, conflict resolution, and consistency in your decisions.
Some practical ways to build relationships as a leader include:
Being human and approachable (while still being professional) in your interactions.
Offer genuine, appropriate praise for good work or special effort.
Organize events outside the office for team building
Strong relationships should be a focus when you learn leadership skills as they pave the way for many other areas, such as communicating with and gaining support from your team.
When thinking about how to develop leadership skills, it’s easy to focus inwards. However, one of the top traits of successful leaders is the ability to reach and sustain a high level of motivation among your staff. There are numerous ways to motivate your team that span a range of situations:
Frequent company updates make workers feel part of something bigger.
Public praise hits that reward center in the brain.
Special training shows you are investing in your team.
Delegating tasks gives a sense of trust and responsibility.
The reason motivation is so integral to a well-functioning workplace is because it means teams gel together well. This is of course an advantage in your day-to-day work, but it becomes even more important when times get tough and you need everybody to pull together.
Another advantage is that you reduce absenteeism and turnover, keeping your top-performers motivated and strengthening your team as a whole.
As we’ve already covered relationship building and motivation, conflict resolution should come as no surprise on our list. When bad relationships rock the boat, it doesn’t just reduce your productivity. It makes for an unpleasant environment that can undo all your hard work motivating people and can push your most valued individuals towards the exit.
It can be difficult to learn how to develop leadership skills such as conflict resolution, but some of our top tips are:
Learning what makes each individual tick (and what really doesn’t)
Identifying common signs of conflict:
The development of factions
Avoidant behavioral changes
Unproductive meetings and projects
Intervening before escalation
Pinpointing the core issues
Communicating with both parties together
Providing a solution that works as well as possible for each party
By clearing the air and resolving problems as soon as possible, you can get back to the job at hand without wasting time through a lack of collaboration. What’s more, your team will be happier at work and less likely to leave due to toxic behavior.
It might not be at the top of the list of rockstar talents, but time management is crucial in learning how to develop leadership skills. The logic is simple: if you haven’t got the time or brain space to improve, you’ll stagnate.
Failure to manage your time effectively can lead to balls being dropped which diminishes trust in your ability. But even worse than that, if you lose control of your time management, you run a high risk of burnout which is bad for everybody involved.
The time management basics are simple:
Prioritize your work and focus on the most important things first.
Plan your day to the minute and leave an hour or so free for any unexpected hiccups.
However, to continue improving, try using time tracking software for recurring tasks. You might be able to cut your weekly meetings down from 30 minutes to just 15, freeing up those valuable time slots and brain space.
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Intimately connected to time management and relationship building is delegation. When planning how to develop leadership skills, take a big-picture view of how these areas are connected for the best results.
First things first: automate repetitive, time-consuming tasks that clog up your agenda. These tasks won’t be welcome on a human’s desk, and if you can get some algorithms on your side, you can become far more productive.
But delegation isn’t just about dividing up tasks to make your own workload more manageable, (although that is a real plus point). It also serves the purpose of instilling confidence in others. By giving important tasks to those you trust, you are sharing responsibility. This is, in effect, a mentoring effort that strengthens the team as a whole and secures your organization moving forward.
While it is smart to delegate a few tasks above someone’s paygrade, there are a couple of traps to look out for:
Don’t overload your team with your tasks, they will feel like you’re taking advantage of them.
Don’t forget to offer guidance. This will help them avoid imposter syndrome and deliver quality work.
As a leader, you can’t please everyone all the time, and healthy negotiation is all part of a well-running organization. Before you even begin negotiating, you need to build trust among those you’ll be working with.
A tip once you get to the table is to offer options. This empowers others and they will value the fact that you have been flexible. While it does require flexibility, you can learn how to develop leadership skills in negotiation with a simple formula:
Prepare what you want to get out of it and what questions to expect from the other party.
Discuss your ideas and listen carefully to what others want.
Relate all ideas back to the overall company goals.
Negotiate a workable solution for both parties.
Get a firm, detailed agreement from both sides.
Plan the follow-up tasks that will make your negotiation work.
Nobody ever got to the top of the tree without taking any risks. Of course we’re not advising you to be reckless in your decision making, but innovating in positive ways proves success and garners respect from your team.
With a business world in constant flux, it’s important to be adaptable. Rather than shying away from new best practices because they’re unchartered territory, embrace the opportunity as a way to be at the cutting edge of your sector. Without the ability to adapt, the office environment can get rather stale, with team members wondering why you aren’t taking advantage of opportunities.
Surround yourself with people who can help you along through strategic shifts.
Manage your time to get acquainted with new processes.
Make a realistic and measurable plan that acknowledges risks.
Take accountability for any failings.
By dipping your toes in new areas and gathering practical experience, you learn leadership skills that will serve you in the future.
It’s great to plan how to develop leadership skills, but you need to focus on the wider world too. Remember you are part of a team, and without a united effort towards the same goals, you’re dead in the water.
When you develop leadership skills, don’t forget the importance of aligning your team behind a coherent mission. In practice, this means assigning relevant tasks that allow your team to see how they form part of the bigger picture.
One incredibly practical way of sticking to your company’s overall objectives is to keep them present on a Kanban board. As you and your team create new tasks and discuss changes in strategy, you can always refer back to your goals and values to see if you’re on the right track. After a while of practicing this technique, it will become second nature and an intrinsic part of your team culture.
Integrity is an admirable trait in anybody, but is it really a skill? If you consider that it doesn’t come innately, and needs to be practiced to be maintained, it is absolutely a skill. Here’s how you practice integrity:
Openly valuing honesty.
Publicly taking responsibility for poor judgments.
Offering the same level of respect to everybody.
Nipping inappropriate or toxic behavior in the bud.
It can be very tempting to cut a corner here or skip a step there. However, these choices can quickly turn into habits that spread throughout your team. Once a lack of integrity has spilled out into the workplace, it is hard to get it back into the bottle — you can’t rebuild trust with your colleagues overnight.
Taking a broader perspective, a lack of integrity can lead to a negative public image. This sparks off a chain reaction that leads to plummeting trust with your customers and a sharp decline in sales. Just as within your team dynamics, it is much harder to build (or rebuild) that trust than it is to destroy it.
The most important strategy for how to develop leadership skills is to develop a growth mindset where you never stop learning. You can’t “complete” becoming a leader like it’s some kind of video game. It’s a continual process in a constantly changing world, so there is always more you can learn.
Of course, traditional leadership skills will be first on your list of things to master, but that’s far from the end of it. One obvious example is the recent surge in the importance of diversity and inclusion. It’s been hard to ignore, even for those with their fingers in their ears.
Not only does D&I help to bring in top talent and innovate, it’s now an essential part of attracting the best talent. Millennials are increasingly putting values over profits, and if diversity and inclusion isn’t embedded into your company culture, they’re not interested.
So our advice is that, even if you’re coming to the twilight years of your career, you need to learn from the young minds in your team. Their perspectives are likely to guide how business will progress in the future.
After digesting these points on how to develop leadership skills, we’re sure you’re feeling more confident as a manager. While your personal skills make up a huge part of your approach as a leader, you can make things much easier with the right tools at hand.
You might have seen mentions to project management, time management, and automation tools throughout this article. Apps like these lay the groundwork for your interpersonal leadership skills to shine.
The good news is that you can get all these features and more all in the same place. Bitrix24 is an easy-to-use platform that covers almost every aspect of your business. So if you’re looking to develop leadership skills, give yourself the best starting point by signing up for a free trial today.