I’ll bet a Christmas Spiced Latte that after reading this post you’ll feel thrilled to start improving your skills to become a strong leader yourself. Let’s start this off with a little mind exercise. I want you to think for only 2 minutes of some famous leaders. Which one do you remember? Why do you remember them? And why do you think they are good leaders? Make some notes!
Got some ideas in your head? Great! You might have thought about Obama, Churchill or Mandela. The first leader that came to my mind was Martin Luther King Jr. Is it just me, or is the “I have a dream” speech always giving you goose bumps? But you know what, he probably would have never changed anything if he had done it all himself. Instead, he not only pointed the way, he lead by going to this place and make a case and he inspired people to become more. Because a leader is nothing without followers.
Getting on with the real stuff: What can you expect from this article? After reading it, you will understand what skills you need to be a strong leader and you will understand that leadership has not always something to do with authority.
So, what gives me – a twenty-year-old something – the right to talk to you about leadership skills? Fair question. I’ve recently been to the event “Leaders for Life” organised by the Career Development Service of my University. It was held by TeachFirst and it was a really inspiring seminar that summarised the key concepts of leadership and helped us understand what great leaders have in common. And of course, I’m going to share these info with you! I’m sure you’re already on tenterhooks and want to know what you can learn from them and what you have to do to become a strong leader yourself.
Of course, every leader needs a consolidated set of hard skills, but this is not what I’m going to talk about today. Because all those hard skills aside, leadership has a hell lot to do with soft skills. And there are these five essential things you need to master and understand if you want to be a strong leader. Let’s start:
MASTER YOUR COMMUNICATION SKILLS
You can have a phenomenal idea, but if nobody listens to you, that’s not of much help. Getting people to see your vision is an essential skill you need to have as a leader. Leaders are pathfinders and are there to help others find the way. You are not going the way alone, you want other’s to come with you! How can you improve your communication skills? Three words: practice, practice, practice.
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Good leaders know exactly where they want to go and they persuade people to come along. Being a leader is a lot about getting out of your comfort zone and taking risks. Step up and take the initiative. Work with passion, talk about your ideas and embrace change. Just as important: Never be afraid to ask questions and never stop improving yourself.
As already mentioned, you’re not a leader if you forget to look after your followers along the way. You have to be able to share your passion, to be inspiring, but you also have to be able to listen. Because you want others to succeed.
You are not the king of the world, sorry to disappoint you. At the end of the day, you are a human as everyone else out there is. Therefore, you should learn from the mistakes you make (because you’re making them!) and accept responsibility for their failure. Have the humility to listen and to learn.
Now I want you to think again, this time about people in your daily life who possess these characteristics. I think these people do not always have an executive position in a big company. These people may be your teacher, your neighbour, your classmate, or this random girl you met on the subway. Leadership has not always something to do with authority. Yes, you do what some people tell you because they have authority over you, but you would not necessarily follow them. I certainly have still a lot to learn about leadership skills but this talk really inspired me and helped me to understand what true leadership actually is. I hope I could summarize this interesting lecture for you a bit!