Some people are “born leaders”: they possess certain natural dispositions that can potentially make for great leadership. But no one is born “a leader”. Even those with the greatest natural inclinations still need to become leaders. Leaders are made, and the process of becoming a great leader takes time, effort and sometimes failure. Furthermore, leaders need to remain leaders, and this is a task that takes constant training, re-education and hard work.
This article will tackle three ways in which you can sharpen your leadership blade to get ahead of a decline in skill or the sheer misfortunes of business. Preparation often trumps bad luck and mitigates its consequences, so it’s always best to be ahead of the curve.
ASSESS WHAT NEEDS IMPROVEMENT
The best way to sharpen your leadership skills is to first assess what areas you need to work on. Are you struggling with decision-making, public speaking, or team management? Once you’ve identified your weak points, it’s time to start looking for resources that can help you improve in those areas.
If improving your decision-making is your goal, there are a wealth of books and articles out there on the subject. Try reading some of these pieces and then practicing what you’ve learned by running through different scenarios in your head. If public speaking is your primary concern, consider attending Toastmasters meetings or taking a class on the subject. When it comes to team management, again, there are many helpful resources available online and offline.
The most important thing here is to understand what needs improvement so you can address why (it needs improvement) and how (you’re going to fix it). A great deal of honesty and inner transparency is needed here. Sometimes, brainstorming alone is not enough, so make sure to talk to others about areas where you can improve. This leads us to my next piece of advice.
FIND A MENTOR AND LEARN FROM OTHERS
Another way to keep improving your leadership skills is by learning from others. Find a mentor or another experienced leader and ask them to help you.
Besides mentors, another great way to learn is by reading books on leadership or attending conferences and talks about this topic. There’s no shortage of great books and talks on the topic, so find one that speaks to you and start reading or attending it!
Of course, don’t forget to practice what you’ve learned. Try leading a team project or serve in a leadership role at work or at school. The more experience you have, the better leader you’ll be.
TRAIN THE NEXT GENERATION OF LEADERS–AND LEARN FROM THEM!
Any teacher or mentor, whether that be in college, carpentry or primary school, will tell you that they have learned a great deal from teaching.
Teaching others allows you to synthesize your knowledge and forces you to make it as clear and structured as possible. Furthermore, mentoring younger promising talent exposes you to new ideas and ways of thinking that can really help you stay on top of your game, no matter the industry you work in.
After undergoing leadership training, young professionals were found to have a 25% increase in learning and 20% in overall job performance, so you definitely want to be part of that positive trend. Learning through teaching is an ancient way of putting knowledge into practice and is one of the main reasons why academics from all fields are still expected to do some teaching.
If you’ve made it this far you now have an understanding of how much patience and dedication both becoming a leader and retaining that status takes. The road is long, but the goal is to walk it. If you manage to identify your biggest weaknesses, you can focus on working through them so as to become a more complete and sharper Swiss knife-like leader.
If you accept to learn from others, whether those are books, articles, conferences, workshops, or finding a mentor, you will always have the best available information to work with and minimize the risk of failing in times of trouble.
Finally, if you focus on sharing your knowledge and training other, younger, promising talent, you will expose yourself to a new generation of entrepreneurs with fresh ideas. There can be people who think outside of the box or in different boxes that you have heretofore, thus helping you perfect your creative drive.
These are the three ways that I believe can best help you become a leader and retain that much-coveted status.