Whether you are a corporate executive, manager, church leader, chamber director or teacher, leadership is the highest skill you can bring to the table, especially in these challenging times. Although we hear the term “born leader” often, more often than not leadership skills are developed rather than discovered. Here are a few ideas for developing your leadership skills.
1. Have a vision.
One reason leaders influence people and organizations is that they have a clear picture of what they want for their business, church, chamber or project. People who leave no doubt where it is they are going attract followers.
2. Be aware.
A leader knows his own strengths and motivations, but also his limitations and challenges. A leader is aware of others’ feelings, reactions, strengths and motivations. She is aware of what is “going on” around her.
3. Respond, don’t react.
Reactions are emotion driven and often lead to inappropriate words or actions. Strong leaders choose instead to be thoughtful and measured in responding to challenges and crises.
4. Know your values.
Leadership requires self-discipline. Before one can discipline oneself she must know what she stands for in the first place. When you are clear on your values and your standards, and live by them, you become character driven rather than emotion driven.
5. Maintain a positive attitude.
One reason Dr. Norman Vincent Peale’s book, “The Power of Positive Thinking,” is still one of the best read books in the world is that we all want to be inspired to think positively and know the power of positive thinking. The leader knows how to generate it within himself and to broadcast it.
6. Be enthusiastic.
Along with positive thinking, enthusiasm draws people to you and your cause. Napoleon Hill says that enthusiasm is the steam that drives the engine. The great John Wooden said, “without enthusiasm you can’t work up to your fullest ability.” Enthusiasm can’t be taught, but it can be caught. Catch fire and let others catch yours!
7. Speak well.
Tom Peters, in his book “Power,” writes that “being able to speak effectively is real power” and recommends Toastmasters. There’s a reason why this international organization of over 8000 clubs calls its training “Leadership and Communications.” Leadership and effective communications go hand-in-hand. Join Toastmasters!
8. Listen well.
One of the most attractive skills we can develop is one of truly listening to others, because it says we care. Yet, experts tell us we hear only 70% of what others are saying. Learn to listen not just with your ears, but with your eyes and your heart.
9. Don’t try to fix people.
Help people excel at what they are already good at. So advise Buckingham and Coffman in their book “First, Break All the Rules.” The reality is that we don’t all have the same potential and we can’t all be everything we want to be. The leader recognizes the strengths of others and helps them develop those strengths rather than trying to make them something they are not.
10. Get your needs met.
What must you have in your life in order to be complete? We’re talking needs, not wants, which are usually substitutes for our needs. We are told that most of our decisions in life are, at the root, needs driven. When you are not coming from a place of need, your integrity is intact and you are a more effective leader.
This piece was originally submitted by Bob Bone, who can be reached at Bob@BobBone.com
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