Technical skills can take you far, but only just. In order to really move up the career ladder, you need soft skills like leadership. Put simply: if you want to reach the top, you have to show that you are able to lead. And having leadership qualities can help you get promoted or help you land your dream job.
It’s a fact that not everyone is born a leader. Then again, we can always practice to become good leaders. This is called leadership development and it’s not as hard as you think. Though, it does take a high amount of patience and practice in order to develop the necessary skills to become a successful leader. Here’s what you need to do.
Start Taking Initiatives
Your boss will always assign you with a task that they know you are good at. As such, they know you will be able to complete that said task on time. However, why just stop there? Why not do something more? Try taking on tasks that are beyond your comfort zone so to speak.
For example, if your job at the local newspaper is covering weddings but you have your eyes set on feature stories. Why not constantly pitch an idea to your editor? Who knows an idea might spark and they’ll allow you to work on it. If not, why not integrate feature writing to what you’re already doing?
Rather than just write a short piece about the wedding you’re covering, why not go for something more longform? For instance, you can tackle issues in the wedding industry. It’s still related to what you’re doing but more in line with what you want your future to be.
Learn To Think Critically
Being a critical thinker is important when gunning for a high-profile job. This is because leaders are expected to see potential problems even before they arrive. This way, a plan can be developed to prevent the problem from happening or to deal with it when it comes.
For instance, you manage a sports team that is on the verge of losing its star player. You’ve done what you could to ensure that they stay for the years to come but it’s becoming clear they want to move on. It’s never right to force someone who wants to leave to stay – you’ll only end up with a disgruntled employee.
Whether you look to trade or find a suitable replacement or do something else entirely is up to you. The only thing that matters is that your moves should be for the benefit of the team.
Develop Your Listening Skills
A good leader is an effective listener. As such, you need to enhance your listening skills if you ever want to pursue a high-profile career. Knowing how to listen allows you to get feedback from others, as well as know what people like or don’t like about the project they are working on.
Being an effective listener means having to maintain eye contact, knowing how to avoid distractions and being able to respond appropriately. This is something you can practice just by communicating more with others.
It should also be noted that communication isn’t just limited to what is being said; your actions matter too. This is why you should always be aware of body language and gestures (both your own and those of others).
Help Motivate Others
John Quincy Adams once said, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” As a leader, you should be able to influence people in a positive way. It’s quite normal for an employee to lose passion and it takes a true leader to see through that and be able to motivate them once more.
The question is: how does a leader motivate people?
The answer is quite simple: knowing what people need and want. If an employee loses passion for their job, why do you think that is? One reason could be that their work wasn’t recognized. Or, they find that they are not growing professionally. So it’s the task of the leader to ensure that good work doesn’t go unnoticed and there is always opportunities for professional development.
Discipline is integral in achieving a goal. Yes, having a vision and presenting an idea are all good but without discipline, how can you ever achieve what you want?
Let’s say you want to reach a wider audience through social media. This isn’t just done by posting several updates each day. Social media requires interaction. In short, you need to develop a strategy of putting out content on a regular basis as well as communicating with those that interact with your account.
For example, if you run a travel agency, your social media channels should share travel-related content. If you can’t create your own content yet, why not share the widely available travel content from respected sites? But rather than just sharing, why not add something of your own? For instance, if a travel article mentions Bali as a destination to go to, why not add that you have a travel package to that destination? Have the discipline to do this on a regular basis and you will definitely see results.
Take Interesting In Always Learning
John F. Kennedy once said, “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” No matter what industry you belong to, there is always something new to learn. The internet is a massive source for information so why not take advantage of it? Follow the right social media accounts that will help you learn more about your industry, subscribe to the right feeds that will add knowledge and enroll in courses that will help improve you professionally and personally.
Learn How To Delegate
According to Theodore Roosevelt, “The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint to keep from meddling with them while they do it.” Put simply, a good leader doesn’t micro manage. You need to be able to delegate work and allow them the freedom to get it done.
Everyone can be a leader but it takes time and a whole lot of effort to work on the skills necessary to be a good one. The bottom line is this: when you want to advance your career, having leadership skills is very important. Then again, it’s much more important to be influential than to be authoritative.