Leaders like Apple’s CEO Tim Cook and Microsoft entrepreneur Bill Gates might cringe if everyone knew one of their greatest secrets, and the core principle that elevates all leaders: Leadership is a learned practice.
Today’s top leaders didn’t rise to their positions by happy accident. These leaders learned and successfully applied the leadership lifestyle. And, with a little hard work, you can also achieve these same admirable leadership qualities.
Consider all of the great leaders (managers, CEOs, entrepreneurs) you’ve encountered in your professional career. Chances are they all possessed similar, seemingly magical leadership skills. As a result, these leaders inspired you and other followers by creating a niche in their industry, building a motivational office culture, or influencing you to work smarter towards a common goal.
If you want to grow in your career and transform into a leader with influence, you too can learn and apply these leadership principles in your workplace. How do you develop leadership skills? Start today by implementing the following six key leadership habits into your daily life:
Habit#1: Be confident: Jim Rohn once said, “Effective communication is 20% what you know and 80% how you feel about what you know.” For others to have confidence in you as a leader, portray confidence in yourself. Good leaders show strength by “sticking to their guns” when it comes to decision-making. Combined with proven results, this prompts trust in your vision and keeps others calm in a crisis. To avoid confidence being mistaken for arrogance, speak from the heart, express gratitude, employ humor, apologize and acknowledge others.
Habit #2: Communicate persuasively: Many great leaders and visionaries have a surplus of brilliant ideas and concepts circling in their head at any given moment. However, you won’t achieve great results if you don’t successfully communicate your ideas, action plan and expectations. A good leader lets team members know goals and priorities up-front, and motivates team members to tackle those goals. To influence action, use strategic communication that keeps your audience in mind.
Habit #3: Listen and respond to others: In addition to successfully communicating to team members, as an effective leader you’ll also need to listen and respond to concerns. Listening shows others that you value opinions outside of your own and are open to new ideas. If you listen, team members will feel as if you’re an ally whose solutions can benefit the greater good. To affirm you’re listening and willing to bridge any different views, be sure to pause for interjections, repeat other people’s words and ask questions (such as “You believe we should do [this idea]. How would we implement [this idea]?”).
Habit #4: Use honesty: Good leaders can freely admit their own strengths and weaknesses. Sharing both the good and the bad shows good character and builds trust with employees. Armed with this knowledge, team members can provide support to fill in any gaps and avoid potential issues. Alternatively, a lack of honesty can prevent goals from being met and cause an entire team to be negatively impacted.
Habit #5: Take responsibility: A strong leader takes responsibility for a team’s actions and results, whether negative or positive. If your team does well, you should publicly praise the team. If your team does poorly or if a project goes off the rails, you should quickly find the source and fix the issue.
Habit #6: Remain positive: Influential leaders must infect others with their own passion for mission to inspire employees and give everyone a common goal to rally around. So, good leaders must possess a strong vision for their own future and the future of a company. The key to doing this successfully is to remain positive even in the face of change and crisis.
This list is not exhaustive of all leadership skills. However, practicing these six leadership habits regularly will go far in advancing your career and helping others recognize your leadership potential. Through confidence, good communication, listening, honesty, responsibility, and positivity, you can become a more well-rounded business leader.
Your comments: Which habits will you practice this week at work to develop your leadership skills? Let me know in the comments section below how you do and if you have additional questions.
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