Developing skills as a leader is a great skill for anyone. Some may consider themselves more of followers than leaders, but everyone has some area of life where they lead.
How does one develop leadership skills? Are some people really just natural-born leaders? Even if that’s the case, leadership is a skill that requires ongoing development through life.
Here are five steps to being a great leader.
When people think of a leader, they think of authority. But there’s another ‘A’ word that’s more important that authority: accountability.
Learn as a leader how to hold not only those you lead accountable but yourself accountable as well. The leader who can keep himself or herself accountable for his or her actions as well as other people will earn his or her group’s respect. Know what you expect of others and then go above and beyond in what you expect of yourself.
Being a leader is about self-improvement as well as improving others, so hold yourself accountable for the areas and the times that you fail.
Sure, there will be times of failure with your group or with yourself. As a leader, there will be times you’ll need to get on somebody about how they did things or about where they screwed up. But, in the grand scheme of things, be constructive with your criticisms.
Build someone up and instead of just berating them when they screw up, help them improve it next time. As a basketball coach, if a player has screwed up a drill or made a bad play in a game, I get on them about what they did wrong, and although I don’t do it all the time, I for the most part try to suggest to my players how they can improve those situations in the future. I try to show them a better way to do things so that they know for next time.
Relate to your team
As with anybody, a leader needs to have solid relationships with his or her group. At a minimum, it should be a great working relationship, but if you can develop great personal relationships with your group, that is even better. On a professional standpoint, it helps to have a great working relationship and want the same goals for the group. Having a good personal relationship with your group will help because you’ll learn what makes your group members tick, and you’ll have more information to work with in motivating group members.
Along with that point, be clear about your goals for the group or for each individual person. Let them be clear about their individual and group goals as well. Open, clear communication will help foster better relationships among the group.
Positive conflict resolution
It’s human nature that there will be times of conflict. Even among the best of friends, there are times where we just don’t see eye to eye with others. When conflict arises among your group, no matter who it’s among, your job as a leader is to work to resolve that conflict in positive manners. If people in your group don’t like you or don’t like someone or multiple people in that group, letting that fester will just poison the group.
If it’s among you and someone else in the group or multiple people in the group, address with those whom it involves only. Don’t let it get outside that group. Take care of what you need to take care of to resolve that conflict, and even if you can’t resolve to get along better, at least resolve to put differences aside when you are working together toward that common goal.
Finally, try to keep a positive attitude as much as possible. No one likes negativity. Sure, as mentioned above, problems and conflicts will come up. No one’s perfect. But keeping your head held high, especially at times when those you’re leading can’t find a way to do so themselves, will lift the spirits of the group. You’ll find that your positive attitude will at least give those who are struggling an outlet to help them manage their conflicts or problems.
As mentioned before, no one likes a negative attitude. A leader with a notoriously negative attitude is likely to not remain a leader very long. People look to leaders for guidance, and people who are negative aren’t going to be very helpful with guidance, especially through troubling times.
A positive attitude will help you when you and your team are taking on tough projects, whatever they may be. When people in the group start to lose confidence in themselves or the group in getting things done, a positive leader will keep the group moving forward.