5 WAYS TO IMPROVE YOUR LEADERSHIP SKILLS
Tomila Sahbaei | July 19th 2021 | 5 min read
Practise your Communication Skills
While the focus of this article is on leadership, the key to being a good leader is to have good communication skills. As a leader, you’ll have to do a lot of work delegating tasks and instructing people in their roles. Being able to communicate with your team is essential. Stay on top of your messages and email because it’s likely most questions will be directed to you. If you’re slow in responding to your team they’ll be stuck and unable to continue with their work. If you’re leading in person, make sure to speak in a direct and clear tone when giving instructions.
One of the best ways to understand leadership skills and how they work in practice is to learn from people who have the experience. Try to think of someone in your life who takes on a leadership role in their professional life, and consider asking them if they would be willing to meet with you and share their own wisdom from their experience as a leader. If you can’t think of anyone in your life, or a meeting does not work best for you, there are a lot of other resources available. Consider listening to podcasts, watching TedX videos on Youtube, or picking up books on leadership or books written by leaders that inspire you.
Understand Your Team
This next piece is crucial to becoming a good leader. You must understand the situation and dynamics of your team, or be actively working to understand them. Get to know your team, talk with them before the project’s start to understand what their goals are moving forward, where they see their role fitting into the team, and what their needs are to work well in a team. Encourage them to be transparent with you, but sometimes you will have to ‘read the room’ yourself, per se. Essentially, what this means is that, as a leader, it is your responsibility to know your team members’ work habits, and the dynamics between them. This can assist you in creating both a safe and comfortable, but also efficient work environment. If you know certain members work extremely effectively together, you can delegate tasks for them to work together on. Additionally, if conflict arises, you can work as a mediator to handle the situation quickly and in a way that is fair to everyone involved, rather than ignore it and allow it to pour over into your actual work. If you feel as though the team members have yet to connect with each other, consider hosting a social event. Removing people from a work setting and placing them somewhere they can be more themselves is a great way to build connections!.
Understand Your Own Leadership Style
In the last section you learned that understanding team dynamics and personalities is important. Understanding your own leadership style is equally important. Do you prefer to be the leading visionary of your team or do you value creating an open space for everyone to voice their ideas? Would you rather delegate and have people work on specific tasks separately or do you prefer to see collaboration amongst your team? Do you feel like you can’t pick between the traits in these questions? Not to worry! In fact, understanding that there are different styles of leadership isn’t meant to force you to pick just one, in fact, a healthy balance between the styles might work better for you. It will take some patience and self-reflection to find what works best for you and you shouldn’t be alarmed by that.
For our final piece of advice, we want to acknowledge that taking on a leadership role can feel daunting. You want to be kind to your team members, but not let them walk all over you. ‘Assertive’ by definition lies in the middle of passive and aggressive, it is a healthy medium. Assertiveness for a leader means that you can find a way to give out commands in an effective and thoughtful way. As you’ve already learned the importance of understanding your team and yourself, your assertiveness will find a way to bridge this knowledge together. You will need to find a way to hone in on your leadership while being mindful of the people you are leading. Not only will this be an effective trait to have in running your team, it will additionally help you in any external communications you will have. As a representative of your team, assertiveness will help you show others the determination and ability of the team as a whole.