It is a common misperception in many human beings that possessing traits like poor social skills or poor leadership skills means that’s just how they were wired and nothing is going to change it. But as the names suggest, these are just skills like any other. There are very few people who were naturally gifted at their job, and at some point in most careers, leadership becomes part of a job.
Luckily, with all the education and training afforded to us in the digital age, there has never been an easier time to polish up on your leadership skills. Whether you’re a youngster looking to take on a leadership role in a sport or club, or an adult about to be in charge, or anything in between, these 5 tips will help you can improve your leadership skills.
1. Open Up Your Mind
Even if you believe “your way” is the reason you’re now in charge, it’s important to understand that not everyone wants to be a leader, and everyone has a different means by which they achieve their goals. Some of these can be related to how they were taught at previous jobs, some can be culturally ingrained, and any number of them may make no sense to you, but if someone is doing their job correctly and happy in their position, it shouldn’t be too important how they complete their work.
Practicing cross-cultural leadership is part of this as well, and promoting an inclusive and diverse community is both morally sound and has been proven to increase productivity and employee retention.
2. Be Positive
Some people have no problems being in charge, but they do have struggles with motivating their teams, and this often stems from a negative mindset. Some common ways to increase your own positive psychology include mediation and focusing on expressing gratitude. When you make your team members feel appreciated, it becomes natural for them to do the same, and production increases.
A common complaint from unhappy employees is that their bosses simply tell them to do something and then give them no guidance on how to do it. There is definitely a line to toe between allowing employees to “do their thing” and being too much of a micromanager, but the best way to find that line is to be open with your team members and understand they all have different opinions as to where that line is.
Once you know how much a given team member would like from you as an educator, you can better toe that line and share knowledge respectfully, and when appropriate.
On the other side of that proverbial coin is learning. The best leaders are ones who continue to grow, and by allowing your team to share their knowledge, you allow yourself to grow as a leader. Having other team members learn from each other further builds the knowledge within your unit, as a whole. Allowing yourself to learn is a great way to make your employees feel appreciated, which leads to increased performance.
With things like flexible schedules, working from home, and flexible holidays proving to increase employee retention, taking that a step further and simply asking your team members what kinds of things will make them happier should prove to have the same effect. A difficult part of being in charge is having to occasionally say, “no,” but at least giving your colleagues the chance to voice their opinions on anything and everything builds teamwork, even if you ultimately have to put someone’s request down. Do so with respect and a fair explanation, and that respect is generally returned.
Styles of leadership need to grow with the times, and what’s working today may not be a successful means tomorrow. The digital office is continuing to be more of a norm than a niche, and leadership skills in that realm will have to evolve as well. If your team is staying remote after COVID, it’s a good idea to further educate yourself on leadership in the remote setting. Remote or brick-and-mortar, however, both have a lot of overlap, and these core qualities are the same for successful leaders in either.