Leaders and leadership skills are integral to the success of organizations. Not only do they instigate action and motivate employees, but they also provide guidance and help establish a culture that is conducive to both growth and productivity.
Given the weight that rests on their shoulders, leaders have it rough. They need to be emotionally intelligent and know what drives each member of their team.
Once they’ve understood the inner workings of their team members, leaders need to know how to use this knowledge and tactfully appeal to their employees’ emotions to align their efforts and have them all work in perfect sync with the company’s goals.
Although being an effective leader is not easy, you can learn to fill these shoes with a little work. Before worrying about which leadership skills best suits your personality, you must start with yourself and develop the personal qualities that will allow you to excel in this role.
Specifically, you need to work on three main things: being disciplined, being positive, and focusing on personal growth.
If you had to choose between being smart and lazy or mediocre and disciplined, choose the latter. Ask any successful individual, and they will tell you that the secret to their success is discipline and focus.
However, this becomes all the more critical when you are a leader. This discipline ensures that you get the job done and also inspires your subordinates to follow in your footsteps as you lead by example.
Here are a few ideas to incorporate more discipline into your life:
Set tomorrow’s plan today
Every night, before you go to sleep, take the time to plan your next day. This will clarify your pursuits and etch the following day’s goals into the back of your mind. Over and above, it will help you stay organized while keeping in sight the bigger picture.
Keep an eye on the prize
A business adage says, “When you are up to your neck in alligators, it’s easy to forget that the goal was to drain the swamp.”
In less metaphorical terms, life can throw at us numerous curveballs. If we aren’t focused, it’s easy to get sidetracked and lose sight of our original objectives.
Therefore, as a leader, you want to always have a clear vision and know where you are going next; this means writing down your goals and reviewing them regularly for great leadership skills.
You should also always ask yourself how tomorrow’s plans fit in with my overall goals. Ignoring this advice runs the risk of having you react to events rather than leading them.
Follow the what with a why
When writing down your goals, take the time to add why each goal matters to you. This will help tie your goals to your life purpose, imbuing each action you do with meaning and making you care more about the end result.
The last thing you want is to pursue certain goals for a decade or more only to realize that this was never what you wanted and that you feel dissatisfied with your choices.
For many, optimism is a critical component for success. It helps people face adversity, drives them to work harder, and picks them up after they fall.
As a leader, your job is to establish your team’s culture, which means that it is your job to spread positive vibes and get your team feeling good about the future.
Here are a couple of ideas to help you ditch any negativity and help you build a positive atmosphere and also improve on your leadership skills:
Work on finding your happiness
Science indicates that happiness makes us more creative, improves our decision-making process, and enables us to notice more opportunities. Consequently, you have a lot to gain from being happy.
Yet, finding one’s happiness is never a straight-forward process. The good news is that you can do a few things daily that can help you get one step closer to Shangri-La.
You can start by practicing gratitude and incorporating it into every aspect of your life. The simplest way of doing this is to spend a few minutes every day thinking of all the things that give our lives meaning and make them worth living. For some of us, it’s our families, while others may be our professional success.
Regardless of what enriches your life, take the time to appreciate these things and realize how lucky you are to have the leadership skills in your life.
Another thing that can help with your happiness is meditation. Meditation can be an excellent way of giving you clarity and decluttering your mind. This is not to mention all the health benefits that come with calming your mind and increasing your awareness.
Work on self-awareness
Our feelings fluctuate from moment to moment, and even the happiest among us experience frustration, anger, or sadness. These emotions can alter our state of mind, impacting how we make decisions.
Try to understand yourself better and develop self-awareness. This means knowing what sort of events trigger which types of emotions within you. On the other hand, it also means knowing how your different emotional states affect your decision-making faculties.
One way you can deepen your self-awareness is through journaling. By keeping a log of your different emotions and decisions throughout the day, you will have a better of the kind of person you are and the kind of environment that brings the best out of you.
Focusing on personal growth
Leaders are supposed to bring the best out of their followers to help them self-actualize. Therefore, leaders need to invest in training their employees, help them achieve their own goals, and empower them to become leaders in their own right.
However, none of this will be possible if you, as a leader, don’t invest in your own personal growth. After all, in a rapidly evolving world, the importance of self-development cannot be overstated.
With that in mind, here are some things you can do to make sure you are always growing as a person and as a leader:
Always keep learning
Learning doesn’t end with your formal education. It is a lifelong journey that keeps going regardless of your age. In addition to sharpening your leadership skills, learning rejuvenates your mind and prepares you for any obstacles that may obstruct your path.
One of the best ways to learn consistently is through reading. As a matter of fact, you should strive to read every day; almost every self-made billionaire, from Warren Buffet to Bill Gates, credits their success to their voracious reading.
The benefits of reading are immeasurable, be it increasing your knowledge base, increasing your mental acuity, or just helping you to destress.
Another way you can learn new things is to surround yourself with people you admire and learn from their experiences. You can gain plenty from just listening to other successful leaders and seeing how they traversed their own challenges.
Better yet, you can find yourself a mentor, someone who can give you advice when you need it the most.
Look after your health
Just as it is important to look after and nurture your mental health, you also need to look after your physical health.
Include exercise in your daily schedule, eat a healthy diet, and make sure that you get a good night’s sleep. Otherwise, you risk getting physically incapacitated, in which case you can’t really lead anyone anywhere.
If your schedule is so cramped that you can’t allocate the time for a good exercise session, start small: go for a walk.
Approaching leadership from a holistic standpoint
Great leaders work on themselves on four levels.
For starters, they take care of the physical level through exercise and proper nutrition.
Secondly, they take care of their mental faculties by constantly learning.
Thirdly, they manage their emotional levels by being self-aware and relying on simple tools like journaling.
Finally, great leaders make sure to polish their spiritual sides, whether by finding the time to meditate or expressing gratitude for the smallest things.
Heather Redding is a part-time assistant manager, solopreneur and writer based in Aurora, Illinois. She is also an avid reader and a tech enthusiast. When Heather is not working or writing, she enjoys her Kindle library and a hot coffee. Reach out to her on Twitter.