Some people seem to be born leaders but that’s not a requirement to becoming a leader. In fact, it’s not even really true. After all, apart from fairy tales, can you imagine anyone being led by a young baby?
In turn, that means that leadership skills can be learned or improved upon.
Improve on your best bits
Even the most outwardly hopeless leaders will have some skills they can use as a basis for improvement. It’s usually easier to do this than it is to start from scratch on an area where you have zero leadership skills.
So take stock of your current strengths and weaknesses – jotting down a list on a piece of paper is lower tech than typing up such a list but there’s something about writing things by hand (even if your writing would make a doctor’s look legible) that helps the process and crystalises things in your mind.
Then score your strengths on a 1 to 10 scale or any other scale that works for you – this is for use only, so it’s more important that you actually do it than how you carry out the process.
Pick on one of your middle to better areas to work on first. Because a weaker area might put you off unless it shows resounding success fast. That’s just how our mind works as we get older – we typically get more defeatist.
Then decide on one thing you can do to improve that area of your leadership each day for the next week or two.
That doesn’t sound like much but if you marginally improved one of your leadership skills – by something small like a third of one percent per day – for the next year, do the math and you’ll see that works out to 100% improvement!
Adapt your style as appropriate
Different people need handling differently.
Some might need handling with kid gloves if they’re overly sensitive and likely to react badly to certain messages.
Others might have such a thick skin that you could heavily insult them to their face and they’d shrug it off like a dog shaking itself after a swim.
Adapting your style to people’s personality can pay dividends. They’ll feel more appreciated and will be more likely to help you than if you barge straight in like a bull in a china shop.
Do your best to appear outwardly calm most of the time
Our behaviour is infectious.
If you appear to be permanently stressed and worried, your team will pick up on this. It’s part of our ancient survival instinct and no matter how “21st century” we like to pretend we are, it’s still a major part of us.
If you appear calm and act as though everything is going to come together on time and budget, your team will pick up on that instead.
You can also turn this to your advantage – if you’re regularly a fairly calm leader then you can turn the heat up by acting slightly twitchier and possibly also “privately” confiding in them that you don’t want to upset the rest of your team and would like their help to bring whatever it is you’re working on in on time.
Don’t play that card too often but once every now and then it can work nicely.