Monday, June 25, 2012

Developing Your Leadership Skills

By Debbie Hall, Career Coach

Leadership is the “process of social influence in which one person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task.”   Leadership is ultimately about creating a way for people to contribute to making something extraordinary happen. Also, a leader is able to successfully maximize the resources to attain the goals of the organization. Leaders must pay equal attention to achieving business results and developing people.
Growing your leadership skills is important at any age whether you are employed or not.  By following some of the tips below, you can increase your self-confidence in all the activities you do every day.  Again, growing and becoming leader isn’t just for climbing the corporate ladder.

Take Charge
If you are working, communicate to your immediate supervisor and their supervisor that you want and are ready for more responsibility and gain their commitment to work with you.
Whether you are working or not, it is up to you to take responsibility for your professional development. Keep a log of your successes and create your own vision.
Knowing what you’re working toward allows you to plan your professional development.
Observe the current company leaders
It is important when looking for a new position, paid or unpaid, to choose a workplace with compatible values to your own and one that reflects your principles.
Within the organization observe the company leaders to see what qualities they possess that garnered them the positions they have and look at your position to determine how you can begin to demonstrate some of those qualities.
 If you are applying at a new company, research that company to understand their mission and values and incorporate those skills into your resume.
Be a Leader now
Volunteer to lead a project or a committee while in your current position. This can be at work but also consider doing this for your church, school projects, or any place you volunteer.  This will allow you to demonstrate your leadership competencies and build leadership skills to supervisors and peers.   
 Prove yourself as a person who can get things done by taking initiative. 
Cover for the Boss
Offer to cover for your boss while they are on vacation or out of the office.  This is an excellent way to demonstrate leadership and have it be visible to others.   If your organization requires a peer to sit in, then offer to handle non-personnel tasks.
If you are not working consider stepping in when a committee chairperson or other volunteer leader is not available to lead a meeting or activity. Encourage others toward the goals.

Know what counts
Demonstrate you’re ready for a leadership role by conveying that you are more interested in the role than the title.  You want to demonstrate you are ready for the challenges of the new position and want them regardless of whether this is a paid or volunteer position.
Leadership is not about “power” – this type of leader ends up being despised. 
Coach others & be a Mentor
Offer to coach/mentor new employees joining your department or that are new to the company.  If you enjoy being a mentor, volunteer to mentor a youth or recent college graduate.
Take risks
Set “stretch” goals that enable you to develop new skills.  These stretch goals can be related to a current position but also any other activity you might be interested in.  Take this blog as an example, it’s my first time to write one and is a stretch goal for me.

You need to appear confident meaning a willingness to learn on the job instead of waiting until you know everything before taking on a challenge. Always be decisive and to the point and take authorship of your ideas.
Be a Problem solver
Great leaders are innovative and proactive.  Look at problem areas wherever you are and once you come up with a solution bring that forward in win-win manner.  When part of any group looking to solve a problem, you want to help to create an atmosphere of collaboration and openness.

Find a Champion
It is important to find a champion in the organization who will promote you internally to higher level management. The person you select should be in a secure position within the organization.

Join a professional organization and attend networking events
By joining professional organizations and attending networking events you grow your personal network of professional contacts that share your same interests.  The people you meet can help you secure your next position.  Look for Industry specific groups and check out and LinkedIn.

Volunteer at an organization that can leverage your skills and where you want to go with your career.

Personal Advisory Board
Establishing your own personal advisory board enables you to obtain assistance from several people. Identify the skills you need to acquire or improve in order to achieve the career goals you developed. Tips for selecting your advisory board:
  • Select people you trust.
  • Clarify each person’s expectations for the relationship and communicate how long you expect them to stay involved.
  • Keep in mind that the relationships you form with the advisors are meaningful and strategically important.
  • Understand what your mentors need for the relationship to be mutually rewarding.
It is never too early or too late to improve your leadership skills!

For more tips, check out the FREE course, Developing Your Leadership Style,  on 

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