What are great leaders made of?
Strong communication skills, adaptability, decisive thinking and a commitment to learning are just some of their outstanding qualities – but recognizing and embracing their uniqueness is what truly sets them apart.
Similarly, in the business world it is essential to identify your core leadership style and hone your soft skills to move ahead of your competition.
According to a recent Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) survey, leadership and navigation are the most critical competencies for businesses now and in the next decade.
Additionally in a Wall Street Journal survey of over 900 executives, 92% reported soft skills, including communication, curiosity, and critical thinking are as important as technical skills.
However, 89% of those same executives reported they have a very difficult or somewhat difficult time finding hires with soft skills!
Reasons Anil Raikundlia, MD, Maple Consulting & Services, “Soft skills are not something that can be learned in a short period of time like math, where there is a certain formula to figure out the problem. Soft skills demand mastering qualities that deal with interpersonal strength and effectiveness honed over the years.”
He further elaborates saying, “I meet potential hires who are brilliant at quantitative skills, but they don’t know things like how to deal with a colleague who steals credit, how to pitch an investor for his multi-crore portfolio or inspire and motivate a dying team.”
These skills are refined through experience and dealing with people. It’s a consistent, iterative process that doesn’t come naturally to everyone.
Here are some ways to sharpen your talents as well as embrace them.
- Listen and Lead
Actively listening to others and creating new innovative ideas through communication can help you to achieve the goals that you want to accomplish.
- Be adaptable in the face of change
Great leaders can change course quickly and stay cool, calm and collected when facing uncertainty and adversity. Always think of tangible ways to overcome obstacles and generate successful outcomes. Debrief with yourself often to learn and improve for the next time.
- Articulate your vision in presentations
The ability to articulate your vision to others is very important especially when you want to pitch an idea. Presentations are an excellent way to strengthen other’s perceptions of your capabilities.
- Be intuitive in decision making
Being able to make a tough decision based on a reasoned process is an essential skill in all types of work. Decisions need to be capable of being implemented, whether on a personal or organisational level. If you can show how your decisions positively impacted your colleagues and your company, you will go a long way in convincing senior management of your worth.
- Manage stakeholders positively
Your ability to positively influence those around is an impressive business asset. Do you negotiate effectively with different teams and individuals? Can you confidently build solid business relationships at all levels of an organisation? Make sure that you are prepared to demonstrate that you can manage relationships with stakeholders at all levels, internally and externally.
- Up your management acumen
If you’re looking to progress up the ranks, you’ll need to to demonstrate an inclusive approach and showcase your managerial aptitude.
- Learn from leaders who inspire you
Observe leaders you admire to evaluate their leadership skills and styles.
For example, how do they interact with employees? Are they collaborative, including employees in decision-making? Are they heavier on the guidance, giving specific directions? Or do they practice a more hands-off type of leadership?
Identifying common traits among current managers also allows you to identify possible leadership gaps in your organization, paving your way forward.
- Continue learning
Look for online learning opportunities to refine your leadership skills.
Staying abreast of business trends can help you be seen as a thought leader in your company. Look for popular leadership blogs, webinars, podcasts, industry newsletters, and business and economic development sources to broaden your perspectives.
When you find relevant articles, share them with your colleagues. This has the dual benefit of establishing you as a resource for your contacts and highlighting your industry expertise.
- Embrace constructive criticism
Constructive criticism and advice from colleagues, managers and mentors will help you grow as a professional and build stronger leadership skills. Often, an objective opinion will allow you to see a view of yourself you didn’t have before.
What is important is that not every leadership style is the same. Use the above tips to develop your own unique approach reiterates Mr. Anil.
“As a talent hunter, I look for individuals who fearlessly dive into learning about a new technology or problem, who identify ways that they would want to further improve in the future, and are genuinely excited about the learning’s that their experiences have brought them.”
Mr. Anil can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org for customised advice on how to nurture your talent and pave your career path.