People often debate the question, “Are leaders born or made?” There’s no doubt that some people seem to be born leaders; but on the other hand, there are a lot of people who seem to grow into the role of being a leader by virtue of their accomplishments, promotions, and continued education. Of course, even those who are natural leaders will be more effective as leaders if they purposely develop their leadership skills, and the truth is that any leader can be a better leader if he/she intentionally practices some important behaviors.
There are some leadership qualities that seem more intuitive. However, there are other important leadership skills that any person can develop, and competency in these areas will help improve a leader, even if he/she feels inadequate in some of the more mysterious qualities such as being charismatic, visionary, or dynamic. These may seem rather mundane, but they can make a big difference.
- Ability to Focus: The more pervasive that technology becomes, the harder it is for some to really concentrate on the matter at hand. Phone calls, emails, text messages, Twitter, Facebook, etc. are incredible tools, but they can also be annoying interruptions. I hear a lot of complaints about them, and that’s why I believe a leader’s ability to master these things, rather than be mastered by them gives him/her a tremendous advantage! If you can focus (and I mean really focus) your intellect upon a problem or situation, it will differentiate you. The ability to do nothing more than zero in on priorities will place you in the top 10% of all leaders.
- Embrace Change as a Process: Great leaders have a strong bias to action. They don’t rest upon past accomplishments, and are always seeking to improve through change and innovation. That probably comes naturally for many leaders, but the opportunity for you to differentiate yourself is in how you lead change. Many leaders who want to see change do not know how to lead change. The key is to create a process where people can embrace and own change. Imposing change rarely works. Creating a system that builds buy-in for change will be much more successful.
- Develop Organizational Acumen: Great leaders know how to elicit trust from others because they create an environment that allows others to fulfill their potential. People want to follow these kinds of leaders because they make the organization work well. These leaders know when and how to share information, and they are expert listeners. They can quickly diagnose whether the team/organization is performing at full potential, delivering on commitments, and whether the team is changing and growing versus just operating.