“The most dangerous myth is that leaders are born – that there is a genetic factor to leadership. That’s nonsense. In fact, the opposite is true. Leaders are made rather than born.”
These are the words of leadership studies pioneer Warren Bennis. And they underline a basic premise: You don’t have to be branded a “natural leader” from the time you enter kindergarten. If you have the passion and the desire, you can develop the necessary skills throughout the life of your career.
Taking initiative means going above and beyond the boundaries of your job description. Simply put, the more you do, the more you will learn, and the more you will build your leadership potential. This is not to say you never allow others to share the workload. In fact, the opposite is true. But it all boils down to your team achieving success. In the words of another industry expert, John Maxwell, “a leader is one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way.”
- Take on extra projects. Ask your boss what you can do, beyond the norm, to help your company and at the same time, develop your skills.
Leadership Development is Ongoing
Other tips to build your leadership potential include:
- Be a critical thinker. Foresee problems before they occur and develop preventive measures. Likewise, be alert to potential opportunities so you can take advantage of them, to the benefit of your company and your career.
- Listen. If you fail to actively and effectively listen to others, you’ll fail to get critical feedback.
- Know how to delegate. Successful leaders delegate and in doing so, they empower others. At the same time, they free up time to focus on their own tasks and goals.
- Manage conflict. It’s not easy to manage difficult people, and that’s why not everyone can be a leader. Perhaps nowhere are your listening and leadership skills more crucial than in situations of discord or conflict. Invest heavily in training and development to hone these skills.
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”
So said John Quincy Adams more than 185 years ago. True leaders positively influence others. When employees lose their ambitions and passion, leaders know what they need and can step in and re-energize them.
- Communicate. Talk to your employees, ask them what’s going on, and share your own personal experiences to encourage and develop them.
- Be a participative leader. Also known as democratic leadership, this means that although you retain the final say, you also not only allow, but encourage team members to contribute.
The best single word to summarize the role of a leader is “influencer.” You can’t control other people or their behaviors, or mold them into clones of yourself or your top superstars. But you can help them develop their personal best – and in doing so, you not only become a better leader yourself, but you also “go the way and show the way” to build leadership for the successful future of your organization.
To learn more about leadership development and other facets of successful HR management, read our related posts or contact the expert team at Select Group, Inc. today.