By Cheri Swales
No matter what position you hold, leadership skills are valuable for moving you through your career and into a leadership role. Smart companies and employees know it's critical to business survival to cultivate leadership skills at all levels.
Get Ready for Your Future
During your career, you will learn myriad leadership skills, but the following tips should give your career a jump-start:
- Show Enthusiasm: Personal energy is contagious, and so is the lack of it. No matter what the job, complete it with a sense of urgency. When others notice, they will become enthusiastic also.
- Build Optimism: Negativity in the workplace is destructive. Your boss doesn't want to hear what's wrong with a project; he wants to hear your suggestions for making it better.
- Be Flexible: You can't survive in business today while resisting change. Show you can handle change by volunteering for a new project or by helping others with change.
- Cooperate: Since companies must do more with fewer resources, teamwork is essential. If you insist on having your own way or controlling others, your career will run into a brick wall.
- Be Creative: What process can be improved? How can you make things easier for customers? Use your creativity to continuously improve processes, and you will stand out.
Your First Leadership Role Requires Special Skills
Once you get the call to serve in a leadership role, you need to make some adjustments to your library of skills:
- Delegate whenever possible. Give projects to the right employees, and don't micromanage them.
- Dedication is a critical skill in your first leadership role. Eight hours of work is not enough to show dedication. Spend a minimum of 12 hours per day on your job or your self-improvement.
- Hire employees who complement your abilities. You will limit your accomplishments hiring only people like you. When you hire individuals who have the skills you don't, you will exceed your goals.
- Ask your peers for advice. When you are new to a leadership position, you don't know everything. Identify your most respected peers, and ask them how they have succeeded.
- Stand by your employees. Show you trust them, and they will be trustworthy.
Stepping Up to the Next Level
When you've shown you are worthy of upward movement, you will need an additional set of skills for success:
- Vision: Ray Kroc, the founder of McDonald's, had awesome vision. In 1954, he saw the McDonald brothers' hamburger stand in California and knew he could build a business by selling 15-cent hamburgers. Over the years, he set the pace for fast food. Be a forward thinker, and share your vision with every employee.
- Become a Mentor: As you have learned along the way, you should share that knowledge with others. Look for enthusiastic employees and spend some time cultivating them.
- Share Celebrations with Your Employees: Nothing inspires a team more than knowing you appreciate everyone's hard work.
- Give Back to the Community That Made You Successful: Get involved in the local community by making donations and volunteering. What you give out comes back to you twofold.
- Don't Blow Your Own Horn: Others will be talking about you, which will make you appear more successful. Be grateful for the acknowledgements, but stay humble.
If you start cultivating your leadership skills, moving up will be much easier. If you realize how many times you provide guidance at work, it would be easy to realize you are a leader no matter what your current position.