Developing Leadership Skills for the Workplace

Developing your individual leadership skills for the workplace has become more important than ever in the current job market. Leadership is broadly defined as the state or position of being a leader or the action of leading a group of people or organization.

Companies are crafting better ways to identify leaders in their organizations and hiring potential leaders who can bring essential skills to their business. If this is something you see for yourself, then you need to begin cultivating ways to stand out in your workplace as an able and trusted leader.

Some individuals are natural born leaders with more dominant personalities, while some individuals need specialized coaching and additional time to develop such skills. If you define yourself as someone who needs specialized coaching and additional time to adapt, your leadership challenges could be putting you on a path to job advancement with the right level of attention. Below are effective ways to help develop and advance your individual leadership skills for the workplace.

Take Initiative

Perhaps the most important leadership skill to develop and proactively cultivate within your workplace is to take initiative. Any individual who shows he or she can take initiative is a valuable employee to any company. Initiating anything can bring about uncertainty and anxious feelings. However, with the right mindset and positive outlook, you can become a better individual leader, while also showing you can be a team player who is willing to both step up and share the spotlight.

Here are eight easy ways to start taking initiative in the workplace:

  • Never stand still – by always making smart and fast decisions, you are helping to make yourself more visible to your teammates and peers.
  • Do more than is required of you – going above and beyond your day-to-day responsibilities is a great way to show you are passionate about becoming a leader.
  • Think as a team member, not an employee – the more you can think of the company’s successes as your own, the better. Therefore, your teammates’ achievements are just as important as your own.
  • Speak up and share your ideas – starting small by participating in team meetings and growing to presentations with executives will help you become more comfortable in sharing your voice and ideas.
  • Consider every opportunity – opportunities can present themselves at any time. It is important to take advantage of big and small opportunities to take initiative. You never know how these opportunities could advance your career.
  • Always be prepared – being prepared is essential for any leader. A great leader knows how to prepare him or herself and any teammates for future successes and opportunities.
  • Be self-promotional – find the best way to promote your own ideas and yourself in the workplace. It is important to be your own advocate.
  • Ask too many questions – no appropriate question should be off-limits. Be curious and stay intrigued while observing the workplace behavior to see where you can take initiative.

Teamwork, Flexibility and Creativity

Once you start taking initiative on more projects, using your voice in meetings and showing enthusiasm about your role in the workplace from day to day, better teamwork, flexibility and creativity will follow. Teamwork, flexibility and creativity are essential to any business and by demonstrating these to your superiors and colleagues, you become an invaluable member of the organization. These are known as the three keys to leadership success and can be transferable to any job role.

It all starts with teamwork. Whether you have a big or small team, it is important to learn how to collaborate with your teammates in a way that highlights each of your strengths. Your manager will assign you and your teammates with roles and responsibilities to ensure you are developing the appropriate skills and on a growth path. A good leader will go above and beyond his or her role and responsibilities to help teammates succeed as well. By trusting the other members of your team will do the same for you, you help to foster a culture of confidence and collaboration.

Flexibility should become a piece of who you are in the workplace. Being able to think fluidly and operate under the assumption that circumstances could change at any moment is a valuable leadership skill to develop and nurture. This type of thinking keeps you from standing still in an ever-changing job market. It also helps you stand out in a crowd of applicants or on your current team. Practice ways to keep yourself flexible and challenged in the workplace – this will lead to feeling more empowered in your decisions.

Finally, a good leader should demonstrate creativity and out-of-the-box thinking. Creativity comes in many forms. It could appear in thinking creatively to solve a problem in your team or in a process. It could appear in having to step up in a design role to think how an image should be positioned on a piece of collateral. Being creative allows you to challenge what the status-quo is and break new ground for yourself and the organization.

Your First Leadership Role

Developing your leadership skills for the workplace is an ongoing process and continues throughout your adult career choices. Even when you are promoted into your first leadership role, your skill set will change and develop in a different way. This also gives you the opportunity to be a teacher and a great resource for your team. It is important to spend time thinking about how you want your team to work and what leadership skills you want them to develop. Unfortunately, many leaders skip this step to meet company goals quicker. When this occurs, the team ends up suffering without any direction. Once you explain in detail how you want the team to work, the team will be more likely to achieve the goals you have set for them because the strategy and direction are clear. It is helpful to outline team roles and responsibilities. Fostering this kind of open culture with your team will boost morale company-wide and overall work ethic. Below are some important principles to remember in your first leadership role:

Do:

  • Be extra clear about what goes into your decision making as a leader and how the team will be evaluated and informed about progress.
  • Encourage your team members to communicate and connect early on projects. This will help avoid any misunderstandings.
  • Be aware of roadblocks in the process and allow your team to creatively solve how to navigate around them. This will help to inspire your team on future initiatives.

Do not:

  • Rush into accomplishing work and overall company goals without building foundational relationships with your team.
  • Assume your team members understand your work habits or their teammates work habits. Take the extra time to communicate expectations.
  • Be afraid to communicate and check-in with your team often when you step into your leadership role. Once the team is on a good path, you can refrain from checking-in so frequently.

The leadership skills you develop through taking initiative, teamwork, flexibility and creativity will be evident to your team and continue to help you on a path to success while making you a better leader.

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