Are great leaders born with leadership qualities or can you develop people into leaders? Recent scientific studies suggest that leadership is 30% genetic and 70% learned.
In conclusion, leaders are made rather than born.
Ultimately, both perspectives are true: someone can be born with natural leadership abilities, and at the same time, leadership can also be perfectly developed. Regardless of whether someone is a "born leader," everyone has room to learn new skills and grow in leadership.
We all know people who may not have been naturally gifted as leaders, but who still took on leadership responsibilities and developed into highly effective leaders.
All a person really needs to become a good leader is willpower, commitment and passion. When these three qualities are present, everything else can be developed.
There are several ways to develop leadership:
- Sharpening personal skills through training programs and courses specifically aimed at developing leadership skills, such as communication, conflict management, time management and dealing with change.
- Gain experience: This can be done through formal leadership roles within an organization or by demonstrating informal leadership in everyday situations.
- Learning from other leaders and mirroring yourself against others who are successful in their leadership roles. You can do this by attending leadership seminars, reading books or watching videos about leadership.
So how do you become a good leader?
Here are some tips to get you started on the road to strong leadership:
1. Communicate clearly
Good leaders are good communicators and make sure their message is clear and understandable. Specifically, you can do the following:
- Use clear and simple language and make sure the message is clear and understandable to everyone. Communicate clearly and precisely about goals and what is expected of the team.
- Combine different communication channels. Depending on the goal and circumstances, it may be useful to use different communication channels. Consider whether you deliver the message better via e-mail, telephone, video conference or a face-to-face meeting.
- Pay attention to nonverbal communication. Gestures, posture and facial expression are as important as content of your message. Make sure your body language is congruent with the verbal message you want to convey.
- Listen to feedback and be open to constructive criticism. This will help you motivate your team and improve your communication skills.
- Be consistent: Make sure the message you convey is consistent with what you have said before and what your team expects from you. This will help you gain and maintain trust.
2. Motivate to action
Great leaders focus on the ability to inspire other people to action. In a team, they keep their teammates focused on the goal and motivate them every step of the way. At times when frustration strikes, they bring noses back in the same direction.
As a leader, you can motivate people by:
- Clearly communicating what you expect of them and how they can contribute to the team or organization. This can help give people a sense of purpose and meaning.
- Being a positive role model and showing enthusiasm for the work you do. This can be contagious and inspire people to do the same.
- Reward people for their hard work and contribution to the team. This can encourage people to work even harder and keep performing.
- Allow people to participate in the decision-making process and value their input. This can make people feel that they are important and that their opinions count.
- Help people achieve their goals and promote their professional development. This can encourage people to continue to develop and grow.
3. Dealing with change
No matter what industry you are in, you will always face change. Effective leaders are open to change and adapt well. They see change as an opportunity to grow and learn. They stay focused on their goals, but are flexible enough to respond to the changing world around them.
As a leader, you can better deal with change by:
- Clearly communicating what the change means for the team and how it will affect the work situation. This can help make the change more acceptable.
- Involving the team in the process of change and valuing their input. This can help the team feel that they are part of the decision-making process and that their opinion counts.
- Helping the team understand what the change means for their individual roles and how they can contribute to the process.
- Showing the team that you have confidence in their ability to adapt to the change and succeed.
- Support and guide the team through the process of change. This can help the team deal with any challenges or obstacles they may encounter.
4. Show empathy
Most people think of great leaders as excellent public speakers and extroverted personalities. It is true that charisma plays a role, but that does not mean that only extroverts can be strong leaders. Introverts can be leaders too, because an important aspect of leadership is how much emotional intelligence and empathy a person has.
Showing empathy means understanding what others are feeling and being able to connect with them on an emotional level. Empathy is an important tool for resolving conflict, calming tempers and encouraging group cohesion and understanding.
Here are some ways to show empathy as a leader:
- Listen to others with attention and without judgment. Let people know that you understand what they are saying and what they are feeling.
- Let people know that you care and that you are there for them when they need help. This can help establish trust and make people feel that they are part of a team.
- Be open and approachable. This can help create a safe environment in which trust can grow.
- Let people know that you respect them and show appreciation for their contribution to the team. This can help create a positive and respectful work environment.
5. Keep learning
The best leaders have a passion and hunger for development and growth. They are constantly looking for new information. They stay abreast of what is going on in the world, look for new ways to solve problems and read about topics outside their expertise.
There are several ways leaders can continue to learn:
- Look for new challenges and experiences that can help you grow and learn. This could include taking on a new task or participating in training or a seminar.
- Be open to feedback from others. Try to understand what you can learn from others and how you can grow by incorporating their input.
- Learn from mistakes and failures. Try to understand what you can learn from the situation and how to prevent it from happening again in the future.
- Find ways to continue to learn from other leaders and experts in your field. This could include participating in networking meetings, getting a coach under your belt, taking leadership training or reading books and articles by other leaders.
Leadership is an ongoing process
While you may have innate leadership qualities, effective leadership still requires work. Leaders are made rather than born. Regardless of whether you have innate leadership qualities or not, working on your personal development can strengthen and improve your leadership.
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