How to practice leadership skills

When you have high career aspirations, one thing you need to establish right off the bat is the fact that you can be a leader. In fact, anybody can, with the right strategy.

Photo by Jehyun Sung

Whether you’re new to a particular environment or you’ve been thinking about a way to get to the position you really want, leadership quality is important. Everybody can think of at least one “natural” leader in the office, but how do you gain those skills if you’re not born with them?

When you’re trying to become an excellent leader, you have to first make a name for yourself. At the same time, you should avoid looking like someone who is overbearing or ridiculously ambitious.

so, how do you find the right balance?

get to know everyone

grow your IRL social network

No matter who they are, or what they do, whether they’re related to your projects or not, make it a point to really get to know everyone you come in contact with. This means getting out and mingling a little bit. 

For example:

» Go to company gatherings (virtual or face to face).

» Stop and talk to people; show a true interest in their work.

» Ask others about themselves – let them do most of the talking.

Even if they’re not people who can help your career directly, getting to know those you work with will teach you a lot about how the business works and what is going on.  You can start making connections between the different individuals you come in contact with and this can lead to wondrous things later when you need to put together a team. 

know when to turn down work

Leaders are often considered the go-to guy or the go-to gal, so you might think a leader needs to accept every proposed project. In reality, this isn’t true. If you look over a project and determine you can’t handle it well, you’re going to be in a much better place by not accepting it.

Show respect to your colleagues and client by helping them find a capable person to complete the project if you’re not able to do so.

However, you should never avoid a project just because it is too much work. Always cite specific reasons you can’t complete a project. This shows that you are able to take ownership of your schedule. Plus, it proves that you only want to provide top quality results to others, not just rush jobs.

Just be mindful of the way you word things. Here are some positive ways to turn down a project or assignment:

» “I’d really love to help out but I’m just swamped right now. I’d be able to do it next week, or perhaps I can help you find someone else who can get it done for you. I don’t want to do a crummy job just to get it done on time for you.”

» “Thanks for thinking of me! I want to help out but I have a lot on my plate this week. What about we setup a quick meeting to discuss the task and see if I can help you get on the right track, that way you can get it done on time?”

Saying no can be a great way to get others to take notice, especially if you’re otherwise very agreeable. For more information on setting boundaries, check the links at the bottom.

work as hard as anyone else

no matter how high you rise

One of the great traits of good leaders is their willingness to work as hard as any of their teammates. If your team is working long hours, work with them. Lead by example and show them you’re willing to work and not just sit back and receive the credit.

By showing your team this kind of respect, you’ll find they’ll respect you in return.

offer solutions

While you should strive to tackle problems before they happen, from time to time this isn’t possible. When things are problematic, make sure you step in with a solution that you’re willing to work on to improve the situation. 

Being remembered as someone who came forward with a solution will go a long way to earning respect as a leader.

you can achieve leadership in your workplace with the right effort!

to keep reading:

» Know When To Say No: 6 Ways to Set Healthy Boundaries at Work

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