Friday, January 25, 2008

How to develop leadership skills

What is the best way to learn how to develop leadership skills? Well you can go find a book full of lists of skills and personality traits that make a good leader. In it you will find the same old list of skills and traits that are seen as being needed to be a leader. Or you could take the time to take a closer look at people who are actually in leadership positions. We all know that leadership is a combination of specific skills and personality. So lets find out what they really are.

When you look at some one you see as a leader what characteristics stand out? A leader may not know how to do a job or a project but they do know who can. A leader may not always be the smartest or the most charismatic person in the group, but they are the person taking action. You will notice that most leaders listen, voice their opinions and do. They take action and expect others to follow. They also tend to be organized and quick to grasp a situation and find solutions or the person who will. Not all leaders are well liked, but they are respected. People trust them to do what is expected. They show confidence in their abilities and a willingness to learn what they don’t have or know. Or at least listen to some one who does.

The skills you find these people to have may or may not be in those books about leadership skills. You will probably be surprised by what makes people in leadership positions stand out from those around them. No one is going to have the same mix of skills or personality traits. So know you have to figure out what is going to work for you?

What skills do you already have? What skills can you develop? You can see what things you need to work on and change with in your skill sets. Is there an opportunity for you to develop your skills at your work place? Don’t expect to be able to learn or change every thing over night and be a leader the next day. It is going to take hard work. Skills need to be practiced, a balance learned as you figure out what will and will not work for you and your personality.

So you see the skills, you may even have them all. Now you have to realistically look at your personality. What do you need to change or work on? How much do you have to change? Are the things you think you need to change in your personality just skill sets you need to learn? Things like positive assertiveness, anger management, communication, negotiation skills, or even time management. If you have to change a large part of who you are to be a leader your going to have to decide if it is worth it to you. If it is, start taking courses, classes, and seminars. You don’t need to try and do it on your own. See if you can take more responsibility on at work. Take the INITIATIVE, because that is what makes a real leader.

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