As your life and career progress, you will realize that the benefits of leadership extend to every aspect of your life, including your work and business life, your relationships and family life, and your health, spirituality, and personal life. You are never too old or too young to assume some level of leadership. Indeed, young people must learn leadership skills that will enable them to communicate and negotiate with their peers, gain self-confidence, and take the initiative required to achieve their goals. Developing and improving your leadership skills will benefit you in a variety of ways regardless of your age or stage in your career.
If you are an ambitious professional who wishes to advance to a leadership position at some point in your career, leadership skills are essential. Nowadays, it is too easy to be passed over for leadership positions if you don’t have the necessary leadership skills. If you are reading this, I’d wager that you are an ambitious person who wants to succeed in your career.
“Why do I need to learn leadership skills?” you may wonder. In this week’s blog post, I will share my top reasons why leadership skills are essential.
How leadership skills can help you
An online master’s in leadership, for example, is a way for managers of all levels to improve their capabilities, inspire their teams, and achieve outstanding business results. Successful leaders can transform organizations, increase value creation, create efficiencies, and engage their employees to produce better results. Here are some specific examples of how it can help.
Every leader must learn to negotiate with others to achieve goals that benefit everyone. Every leader’s primary purpose should be to achieve a win-win situation in every situation where possible. Negotiation skills can help you as a manager and a subordinate in your business life. Negotiation skills can also come in handy at home. If you ask any married person if they have ever had to bargain with their spouse or children, they will probably laugh. Most families negotiate daily.
A leader’s responsibility includes developing a vision, big picture, and goals for the team or company. This is one of the primary distinctions between management and leadership. Managers oversee the day-to-day tasks and activities. On the other hand, leaders are concerned with the big picture and overall goals.
Companies and teams require objectives to work toward. They need goals to give people on their team direction and focus on their daily activities. Without goals, people wander and accomplish nothing. Consider how this relates to your life. What would you have accomplished if you had no career goals? How healthy would you be if you had no exercise goals?
Although management and leadership are frequently used interchangeably, their definitions differ slightly. Business managers must control environments, whereas business leaders must be able to inspire others. Leadership abilities can assist a business owner in effectively managing their organization, putting the company in the best position to succeed. Effective managers run efficient departments, maximize output, and understand team member management.
Influential business leaders cannot only persuade others to follow them but also recognize the value of leading by example – business managers who demonstrate leadership skills and lead by example foster a trusting and respectful work environment. Respect from team members can go a long way toward assisting you in reaching your career objectives. Employees who respect their boss are more likely to adapt to organizational changes and are more motivated to produce at a high level.
Consider the people in your life, or throughout history, who you believe to be great leaders. They almost certainly have one thing in common: confidence. You must have confidence and self-esteem as a leader because your team must believe in you and your goals to follow your lead. In addition, a confident leader inspires their team to share their enthusiasm and perform to their full potential. As a result, increasing your self-confidence and sense of self-worth is integral to leadership development. Furthermore, it has the potential to be genuinely life changing.
As a leader, you must communicate precisely what you require and expect from your team members. A lack of effective communication can lead to missed deadlines, incorrect work, and many other issues that impact the day-to-day operations and long-term goals of your workplace. A leader’s responsibilities extend beyond simply giving instructions to their employees. When there is conflict, a leader must act as a mediator, as a team motivator, and as an occasional disciplinarian or problem solver when issues arise. As a result, improving your communication skills is a critical component of any leadership development program.
Leaders must inspire their employees to go above and beyond for their organizations; simply paying a living wage is rarely sufficient motivation. You can encourage your employees in various ways, including building team member self-esteem through recognition and rewards, or giving employees new responsibilities to increase their investment in the company. To encourage productivity and passion, leaders must learn which motivators work best for their employees or team members.
Leaders attempting to take on too many tasks alone will struggle to complete anything. These leaders frequently mistake delegation for weakness when it can signify a strong leader. As a result, you must identify each team member’s skills and assign duties to each team member based on their skill set. Delegating tasks to staff members allows you to focus on other important tasks.
Great leaders to learn from
Other than studying toward becoming a great leader, as previously touched upon, we can also analyze and learn from some of the great leaders of the past. Many people believe that you must be born with the skills to be a great leader, but this is not true. As highlighted above, you become a great leader through learning and developing skills.
In this next section, we will look at some great leaders from around the globe and analyze segments we can learn from to help us become better leaders.
Hammurabi was born sometime between the years 1820 and 1810 BC. He was the son of Babylon’s King Sinmuballit. Unfortunately, we don’t know much about Hammurabi’s childhood. Although Babylon was just a city-state like many others in Mesopotamia at the time, he did receive some administration training. In his early years as ruler, Hammurabi focused on practical matters such as temple construction and restoration. He also ordered the construction of new canals for the city and strengthened and raised the city walls to new heights.
King Hammurabi was also a skilled diplomat, and instead of repeatedly declaring war, he recognized the value of cultivating friendships with other city-states. He used this strategy in 1764 BC when he struck deals with other city-states to prevent them from attacking Babylon. Hammurabi is probably best known for his law codes, which his people followed and kept order in his city. Many historians see the codes as a way to make Hammurabi look like a great leader, but they are still a significant attempt to establish decent social standards.
Because of his ability to balance force and reason at various times during his reign, Hammurabi is now remembered as one of Mesopotamia’s most impressive kings. In addition, Mesopotamia experienced one of its most peaceful and prosperous periods during his reign.
Pericles was an Athens-based ancient Greek statesman. Under his direction, Athens grew into a mighty empire and a center of education, culture, art, and democracy. Athens experienced a golden age during his tenure as a statesman. Pericles rose to power in Athens sometime after 461 BCE. He remained the city’s leader for the next 30 years. Pericles expanded opportunities for ordinary citizens to participate in Athens’ democratic government during this period. For example, citizens could help draft laws and serve on juries during court trials.
Pericles invested in the improvement of Athens. He expanded Athens’ navy and offered protection to other cities in exchange for payment. The people of Athens built new temples under Pericles, and in 447 BCE, they began work on the Parthenon and a statue of the goddess Athena. Pericles transformed Athens into the most beautiful and powerful of Greek cities.
Augustus was born in Rome on September 23, 63 BC. Rome was still a republic governed by elected officials at the time. Gaius Octavius Thurinus was his birth name, but he was usually referred to as Octavian until later in life. As Octavian grew older, he became more involved in Roman politics. He soon wished to fight alongside his Uncle Caesar. Caesar was taken with the young man and made Octavian the heir to his fortune and name because he lacked a son.
Octavian began gathering political and military support in the Roman Senate and military aid from Caesar’s legions. He quickly became a formidable force in the city and was elected consul. The Senate bestowed upon him the title of Augustus in 27 BC, and he would be known by this name for the rest of his life. He rose to become Rome’s ruler and emperor.
Rome had been in civil war for many years when Augustus became emperor. He restored peace to the land and began rebuilding much of the city and empire. He constructed numerous roads, buildings, bridges, and government structures. He also fortified the army and conquered much of the Mediterranean Sea territory. Rome experienced peace and prosperity under Augustus’ rule. The Roman Empire enjoyed peace for the next 200 years. This period is known as the Pax Romana, meaning ‘Rome’s Peace.’ Augustus is frequently credited with laying the groundwork for such a long period of peace.
Wu Zetian was born in Lizhou, China, on February 17, 624. Wu was a bright and ambitious young woman who studied politics and government. Wu moved into the imperial palace at fourteen to serve Emperor Taizong. She was educated at the palace until the emperor died in 649. Although she did not yet hold the title of emperor, she wielded absolute power. When she eventually became empress, she was China’s first and only female ruler.
In Ancient China, it was difficult for a woman to maintain power. Wu accomplished this by employing secret police to spy on people. She created an extensive network of spies to help her determine who was loyal and who wasn’t. Another reason Wu was able to maintain power was that she was an excellent empress. She made wise decisions that aided China’s growth. She surrounded herself with competent and talented people by promoting people based on their abilities rather than their family history. Empress Wu expanded China’s borders by conquering new lands during her reign. She also contributed to bettering the lives of peasants by lowering taxes, constructing new public works, and improving farming techniques.
So, what did all these great leaders have in common? Let’s find out in our next section.
Traits of a good leader
Skills and traits are the foundations for life success and performance. There is, however, a distinction between these two terms. Although the terms ‘skill’ and ‘trait’ are frequently used interchangeably or simultaneously, there is a significant difference. In short, we are born with traits that we can develop further throughout our lives. Skills, on the other hand, are acquired later in life. We all have leadership traits; we must unlock them and nurture them. Here are some of the traits great leaders should have.
All leaders must be able to communicate effectively. However, for many, this conjures up images of inspiring leaders delivering moving speeches and encouraging sentiments. That does happen on occasion; however, the best leaders almost always spend as much time listening as they do speaking. Listening entails comprehending and remembering what employees say rather than waiting for a chance to speak or provide direction. Unfortunately, many employees emphasize that this skill is more difficult to obtain than you might think. According to recent research, 34% of employees worldwide believe that their company does not listen to their suggestions for how to improve things. That alone demonstrates why leaders must practice active listening.
Everyone knows leadership and management are demanding jobs. They aren’t all about accolades, raises, fancy titles, and the corner office. The job involves a lot of hard work, and the best leaders are willing to keep moving forward even when the road becomes difficult. They find ways to get around obstacles and roadblocks. They figure out how to fix things. They encourage their team to keep putting one foot in front of the other, even if things don’t always go as planned. Goals are not achieved overnight, and the most successful leaders highly value teaching their teams the importance of adapting to changing circumstances and trying new approaches.
Integrity ensures that leaders maintain the respect of their peers and promote a positive image of their company. You can demonstrate this characteristic by adhering to the general moral code of your industry and the organization’s specific ethical considerations. When a leader demonstrates integrity, others are more likely to follow.
As a leader, it is your responsibility to set the tone for the workplace. Moderate your behavior and maintain a positive attitude in the face of adversity. You encourage your employees to adopt a similar mindset by recognizing the positive aspects of each situation and finding solutions to the harmful components.
Good leaders see the big picture: they understand where they want to go and how they intend to get there. They can create an inspiring vision, ensure it is achievable, and effectively communicate it to others to gain support. Rather than being distracted by details, they concentrate on setting the overall direction and making confident, high-quality decisions even under pressure. Assessing resources, setting goals, and assigning tasks to others require good organizational and planning skills.
Good leaders are open-minded, compassionate, and eager to listen and learn. They genuinely care about those around them, are aware of their thoughts and feelings, and understand their needs and motivations. People are naturally drawn to those who have strong emotional intelligence, intuition, and interpersonal skills and are more likely to follow in the footsteps of someone they like. So, always respect others, take the time to get to know them, and establish a good rapport.