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Being at the top of your game is an incredible feeling. And whether you plan to get there through launching a business or scaling the corporate ladder, there’s one thing that you’ll need to propel yourself to the top – leadership skills. We often fall into the trap of thinking that some people are born leaders – with the attendant implication that we might not be. But that isn’t true at all. Actually, there are a number of leadership styles, and learning which one you are, assessing your strengths and weaknesses, and working towards improving the skills you need can make you a far better leader than anyone who assumes it’s their birthright. So how do you begin to develop those skills?
If you lead, then eventually you will be asking a team or even a whole department to be disciplined, work hard and meet targets. This cannot be done if you don’t embody that value yourself. Developing self-discipline is not an easy thing to do, which is why it can seem to be quite a rare quality. Start by making sure your time management is great, that you always meet deadlines, that you honour appointments, maximize your productivity, pay attention to those you are speaking with and start and end meetings on time. Think about time as wealth – not something to be wasted. Implementing good habits can be done by starting small – simple things like creating a morning routine, getting up earlier in the morning, and setting clear boundaries between work and home can all help.
Sometimes, people convince themselves that they can’t be leaders because they don’t have all the answers, but that is certainly not the case. A truly great leader would never make the mistake of assuming they know it all. Instead, they actively seek out opportunities to improve their knowledge and skills at every turn, whether that is finding a mentor, preparing to undertake a formal qualification such as an mit idm or an mba, or meeting regularly with industry bodies to keep on top of the latest trends.
No leader is an island, and a good leader recognizes the immense value in building a highly-skilled team. You can’t and should not expect to be an expert in everything. Instead, being able to turn to people who can impart a specialist knowledge is the way forward. Being able to network effectively is a skill of huge importance for everyone, from a PA to a CEO. It’s simply about making connections with people, seeing what you can offer, and what they can bring to the table. Additionally, being able to be the connector between two others can certainly get you far and gain you a reputation as a fixer.
Developing your situational awareness is also vital. If you can’t see the bigger picture, you’ll never be able to make the decisions required to guide others. Tap into macro-economic trends, keep abreast of industry and wider political news, and practice scenario planning where you imagine a number of different outcomes and what your responses would be.
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