how to become the leader

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how to become the leader

Start by Understanding Your Leadership Style

Understanding your current leadership style is essential. What are your strengths? Which areas need some improvement? One way to start assessing your skills is to take this leadership style quiz to get a general idea of how you lead.

Once you have completed the quiz, read about the major characteristics of your dominant style. Are these qualities helping or hindering your leadership? Once you’ve determined which areas need some work, you can begin looking for ways to improve your leadership abilities.2

Encourage Creativity

Intellectual stimulation is one of the leadership qualities that define transformational leadership. Followers need to be encouraged to express their creativity. Effective leaders should offer new challenges with ample support to achieve these goals.1

One way to foster creativity is to offer challenges to group members, making sure that the goals are within the grasp of their abilities. The purpose of this type of exercise is to get people to stretch their limits but not become discouraged by barriers to success.

Serve as a Role Model

Idealized influence is another of the four key components of transformational leadership. Transformational leaders exemplify the behaviors and characteristics that they encourage in their followers. They walk the walk and talk the talk. As a result, group members admire these leaders and work to emulate these behaviors.

Research suggests that leaders are able to foster a specific belief and then transmit that inspiration to their followers.2 As a result, followers are optimistic and have high standards for performance and achievement.

If you want to become a better leader, work on modeling the qualities that you would like to see in your team members.

Be Passionate

Would you look to someone for guidance and leadership if they did not truly care about the goals of the group? Of course not! Great leaders are not just focused on getting group members to finish tasks; they have a genuine passion and enthusiasm for the projects they work on.2

You can develop this leadership quality by thinking of different ways that you can express your zeal. Let people know that you care about their progress. When one person shares something with the rest of the group, be sure to tell them how much you appreciate such contributions.5

Listen and Communicate Effectively

Another important quality of transformational leadership involves a focus on providing one-on-one communication with group members. Transformational leadership is effective when leaders are able to communicate their vision to followers, who then feel inspired and motivated by this vision.3

Good leaders should express sincere care and concern for the members of their group both verbally and nonverbally.

By keeping the lines of communication open, these leaders can ensure that group members feel able to make contributions and receive recognition for their achievements.6

Have a Positive Attitude

Transformational leaders have an upbeat, optimistic attitude that serves as a source of inspiration for followers. If leaders seem discouraged or apathetic, members of the group are likely to also become uninspired.

Even when things look bleak and your followers start to feel disheartened, try to stay positive. This does not mean viewing things through rose-colored glasses. It simply means maintaining a sense of optimism and hope in the face of challenges.7

Encourage People to Make Contributions

Let the members of your team know that you welcome their ideas. Leaders who encourage involvement from group members are often referred to as democratic or participative leaders. While they retain the final say over all decisions, they encourage team members to take an active role in coming up with ideas and plans.

Research has shown that using a democratic leadership style leads to greater commitment, more creative problem-solving and improved productivity.48

Motivate Your Followers

Transformational leaders also provide inspirational motivation to encourage their followers to get into action.5 Of course, being inspirational isn’t always easy. Fortunately, you don’t need motivational speeches to rouse your group members.

Some ideas for leadership​ inspiration include being genuinely passionate about ideas or goals, helping followers feel included in the process and offering recognition, praise, and rewards for people’s accomplishments.9

Offer Rewards and Recognition

Another important quality of a good leader involves knowing that offering effective recognition and rewards is one of the best ways to help followers feel appreciated and happy.6 It may also come as no surprise that happy people tend to perform better at work.10

Keep Trying New Things

Who says leadership is a one-way relationship? As you work toward developing some of these leadership qualities, don’t forget to look to your followers for feedback and inspiration. Pay attention to the things that have been effective in the past and always be on the lookout for new ways to inspire, motivate, and reward group members.

leadership skills

What are leadership skills?

Leadership skills are skills you use when organizing other people to reach a shared goal. Whether you’re in a management position or leading a project, leadership skills require you to motivate others to complete a series of tasks, often according to a schedule. Leadership is not just one skill but rather a combination of several different skills working together.

Some examples of skills that make a strong leader include:

  • Patience
  • Empathy
  • Active listening
  • Reliability
  • Dependability
  • Creativity
  • Positivity
  • Effective feedback
  • Timely communication
  • Team building
  • Flexibility
  • Risk-taking
  • Ability to teach and mentor

What makes a good leader?

Effective leaders are essential to any organization. They can help build strong teams within a business and ensure projects, initiatives or other work functions are performed successfully. Good leaders have strong interpersonal and communication skills, and anyone can become one by learning how to exercise and hone leadership abilities.

Most people have seen the results of both effective and ineffective leaders on the job. Good leaders increase employee engagement, support a positive environment and help remove obstacles for their team. Good leadership is also contagious, inspiring colleagues to apply positive leadership traits in their own work.

Top 6 leadership skills

Almost any positive soft skill might be considered a leadership skill. For example, active listening helps leaders bring projects to completion by hearing the ideas and concerns of the team. Empathy, for example, helps leaders understand how their team feels about their workload, environment and workplace relationships.

Here is a list of must-have leadership skills that may prove valuable to anyone applying for work or looking to advance in a career:

1. Decisiveness

Effective leaders are those who can make decisions quickly with the information they have. Effective decision-making comes with time and experience. As you become more familiar with your specific industry, you’ll be able to make decisions faster, even when you don’t have all of the necessary information. Decisiveness is seen as a valuable leadership skill because it can help move projects along faster and improve efficiency.

Effective decisiveness requires research, evaluation, problem-solving and goal-setting, often with a quick turnaround. Decision-makers should be able to pull from their own experience with similar tasks, evaluate what might work best, make the decision and be confident in taking the responsibility for the result. Key skills related to being a strong leader through decisiveness include:

  • Problem-solving
  • Initiative
  • Research
  • Evaluation
  • Expectation setting

2. Integrity

Integrity is often seen as just truthfulness or honesty but in many cases, it also means having and standing by a set of strong values. Integrity in the workplace often means being able to make ethical choices and helping the company maintain a positive image. All businesses seek to hire workers who have a strong sense of integrity.

Having integrity as a leader, not only encourages the most truthful and fair practice and outcome, but also, sends a strong and positive example to your team. A leader with integrity also shows the following skills:

  • Diplomatic
  • Ethical
  • Reliability
  • Professionalism
  • Confidentiality
  • Honest

3. Relationship building (or team building)

Leadership requires the ability to build and maintain a strong and collaborative team of individuals working toward the same goal. Team building requires other leadership strengths, like effective communication skills and conflict resolution. Relationship building is potentially one of the most important skills to a leadership role as it makes communication of tasks, responsibilities and goals more effective. Once you understand each other, you will benefit by being able to assess strengths, delegate tasks and complete your goals more seamlessly. A successful leader who is adept at relationship building will also have the following skills:

  • Collaboration
  • Management
  • Interpersonal
  • Social
  • Communication
  • Active listening
  • Teamwork

4. Problem-solving

Good leaders are skilled at problem-solving issues that arise on the job. Effective problem solving often requires staying calm and identifying a step-by-step solution. Problem-solving skills can help leaders make quick decisions, resolve obstacles with their team and external teams alike, and ensure projects are completed on time, according to the specifications. Leaders who are effective problem-solvers also have the following skills:

  • Critical thinking
  • Analytical skills
  • Research
  • Decisiveness

5. Dependability

Being a dependable leader means that people can trust and rely on you. A dependable person follows through on plans and keeps promises. The strong relationships built by a dependable leader create a resilient team that can work through difficulties that may arise. Being a dependable professional means meeting deadlines, being straightforward, coming through on obligations and when you can’t meet a promise or a goal, communicating this early on and having a backup plan. Dependable leaders also have the following skills:

  • Realistic goal-setting
  • Integrity
  • Timeliness
  • Initiative
  • Detail-oriented
  • Loyal
  • Truthfulness

6. Ability to teach and mentor

One skill that differentiates leadership from many other competencies is the ability to teach and mentor. Effectively teaching colleagues or direct reports to grow in their careers helps organizations scale. Often, this skill requires that leaders think less about themselves and more about how to make their team as a whole successful. To be successful as a leader that can teach and mentor a team, you might hone the following related skills:

  • Motivation
  • Clarity
  • Able to recognize and reward
  • Understanding employee differences
  • Assessing
  • Helpfulness
  • Positive reinforcement

How to identify your leadership style

While you will use different styles of leadership for different occasions, identifying your leadership style can help you refine specific skills that will be effective for your team or project. You might use your team or project goals to help identify what leadership styles will be most effective for you.

1. Start by observing how you lead

Your leadership style will likely fit into one of the 10 leadership styles below. Research what characteristics, methods and practices define each style and determine which one best defines yours. You might use a combination of different styles.

2. Consider all the characteristics of your leadership style

Do you meet all the skills and expectations of your leadership style? If not, what goals could you set for yourself to improve?

3. Examine if your current leadership is effective

Whether you employ a mix of different leadership styles or focus on one, is your approach effective at reaching your goals? Ask your team if they feel motivated and productive in their work environment, and if not, what they think could make it more so. It could mean focusing on different methods or a switch to another leadership style altogether.

Here are the most common—and effective—leadership styles to consider:

  • Coach
  • Visionary
  • Servant
  • Autocratic
  • Laissez-faire or hands off
  • Democratic
  • Transformational
  • Transactional
  • Bureaucratic
  • Pacesetter

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