While some people are naturally attracted to leadership roles, anyone can develop their ability to articulate their vision and inspire others to take action. Just as organizations grow and adapt, leaders must also be willing to rise to the occasion and challenge themselves.
Stagnant leadership can be the downfall of an organization. For this reason, open-mindedness and a desire to learn are two of the most important traits in a leader.
Individuals seeking professional and personal growth can engage in any of the following activities to expand their leadership skills.
Join a Mastermind
Great leaders strive to never be the most accomplished or intelligent people in the room. Mastermind groups exist to bring ambitious individuals together to work towards their goals. Members may be from diverse or similar industries, but all participants have achieved high levels of success and are looking to advance to the next step.
The concept of a mastermind group is centuries old. Founding father Benjamin Franklin started his own club, Junto, which blended together philosophy, personal development, and business.
Decades later, masterminds are still popular amongst entrepreneurs and c-suite executives. As the benefits of mastermind groups become better known, the trend has extended to anyone who could use a supportive network, including freelancers, students, and artists.
Groups can be as small as two members or involve dozens of individuals. No matter the configuration or focus, nearly all masterminds share the following principles. Members must seek out accountability and be willing to put effort into their own and others’ success.
Unlike in a coaching or mentoring relationship where one party has more experience, masterminds members are peers. Members can bond over similar challenges and responsibilities.
In a mastermind group, leaders in other settings can take on a different role. They can share their doubts and be open to feedback. Mastermind members can also offer alternative perspectives and insights that leaders can use to improve their approaches.
Earn a Credential
A key aspect of a good leader is engaging in lifelong learning. The definition and principles of successful leadership are constantly evolving, so leaders who do not devote time to learning are at risk of being left behind.
There are several learning methods that are suitable for high-level leaders. Many of the most prestigious business schools, including Harvard Business School and Carnegie Mellon, offer executive programs. These short-term programs focus on the most cutting-edge topics in leadership. In addition to a world-class education, participants benefit from working alongside some of the most accomplished individuals in the industry.
Certification courses are another way for leaders to improve their skills. A leadership or certified project management course can be completed completely online. Earning one of these credentials demonstrates leadership capacity and enhances credibility.
Practice Two Way Communication
Strong teams rely on trust and mutual respect, which can only be established through effective communication. Since leaders set the tone for how their teams function, it is essential to engage team members in decision-making. Two-way communication requires avenues to give and receive feedback.
As many organizations discourage two-way communication, many people fear speaking out. It is up to leaders to create a safe environment that respects all points of view. By praising staff who speak, leaders can demonstrate that all views, even those that are unpopular or contrary, are valuable.
Depending on the organization or team structure, team members should be given several methods for sharing their views, including anonymous input and one-on-one meetings.
Leaders who foster a culture of two-way communication reduce ambiguity and increase team buy-in. Engaged individuals are more productive and creative. A respective environment also encourages all members to share their ideas. This leads to more diverse perspectives influencing and informing a project’s direction.
Under the outdated authoritarian leadership model, leaders had to project infallibility. Contemporary forms of leadership reject this premise, as failure is an accepted part of success. Rather than inspiring followers, leaders who suppress their weaknesses and failures are viewed as out-of-touch or unrelatable. Instead, leaders should show vulnerability by discussing their failures and the lessons they’ve learned.
To gain the most value out of sharing a hard experience, leaders should present their failure as an inevitable step in their journey. Many people erroneously perceive failure as an inherent character trait. This can prevent people from taking chances or going beyond their comfort zone. Leaders have the opportunity to change this narrative by discussing personal failures openly. This small act of bravery gives others permission to experiment and learn through trial and error.
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