For many people who find themselves in leadership positions, they got there because of their technical skills. Maybe they made the leap from a financial or operations position; maybe they have worked their way up through the ranks; maybe they founded the company. Those skills have great value to the company, but they don’t necessarily make the person a leader.
The things that make someone a great leader – the ability to inspire and motivate, listening, mediation, finding problems before they happen, and keeping in touch with employees at all levels – those are skills that aren’t always top-of-list for a CEO but they are sorely missed when absent.
Can you fundamentally change as a leader?
In order to make a change, you have to work for it. Changing as a leader is like playing the piano. If you want to play the piano, you must learn the notes and practice playing them. If you want to be a better leader, you must learn the skills and practice using them.
Learning the skills takes an investment of time and dedication to self-improvement. But first, you have to decide how you learn best.
- Are you a hands-on learner who needs one-on-one coaching or classroom interaction?
- Do you like to go at your own pace and read about the things that apply specifically to you?
- Is an online course that is flexible but provides feedback more motivating?
There are leadership learning modules for any and all of these learning methods. You just have to find which one works for you. Investing the time and dedication won’t pay off if you are investing it in the wrong thing.
What is leadership help?
As a leader, you can bring in a consultant to point out ways to improve your leadership style, you can ask for feedback from a mentor or peers, you can look at performance measures in your company and identify things that you should work on. There are many options available, and hopefully most leaders won’t get to the point of having footage of them berating an employee go viral before they seek help.
Reading about leadership is a great way to start continuing your education and growing in this area.
For starters, I recommend a couple of books that are good reading for current and future leaders.
Of course there are some timeless leadership classics in this field. You can’t go wrong with the tried and true How to Win Friends and Influence People or The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People or most anything by John C. Maxwell. Of his books, I would suggest starting off with The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership or The 360 Degree Leader.
Millennials out there may just be advancing into leadership roles and struggling to gain the respect of not only those of older generations, but their own peers as well. An essential read is Manager 3.0 – A Millennial’s Guide to Rewriting the Rules of Management. This is a generational perspective on the new ways that managers will lead as Gen Y takes over the workplace.
For those of us who are not running a global brand, but are leading a small business or a team within our office, check out The Ordinary Leader. It focuses more on small to medium-sized teams and organizations.
Best of luck to the leaders out there – remember there is help if you need it!