how to build leadership skills
Want to learn how to build leadership skills?
I've been in your shoes before.
Throughout my career, I've been fortunate to have great mentors and role models. Not surprisingly, they always did 3 things really well:
- They coached their team members consistently.
- They demonstrated the behaviors they expected of their teams.
- They had genuine care for the personal and professional development of each employee.
It amazes me how much I've learned in observation and participation in those environments.
Those experiences help you appreciate the differences when you find yourself in an atmosphere that isn't as supportive, engaging, or growth-minded.
If you find yourself stalled in learning how to become a better leader, you're going to like this article.
Two Secrets To Building Better Leadership Skills.
Be consistently curious! 📚
I like lists of threes, though in this case, I have two areas to share with you that have helped me most in learning how to build leadership skills and add to my skill set.
1️⃣ Be A Continuous Learner.
As soon as I finished my undergrad in Physical Education, I began studying sales. As I moved into management and learning and development, I started to consume all I could in leadership and public speaking. When I first became a business owner my interests turned to marketing, copywriting, and web development. My appetite for knowledge eventually brought me to grad school.
Through books, articles, Twitter threads, newsletters, online courses, certifications, and more, the resources are available.
Whether formal or informal, it's key to commit to a practice of consistent learning. Start with 15-30 minutes weekly, and put it on your calendar. As you find yourself learning and growing, consider scheduling more time during the week.
2️⃣ Surround Yourself With Incredible Leaders.
Early in my career, as an individual contributor, I was fortunate to observe and experience the leadership of several team members, not all of whom were managers, in-person. Some were other personal trainers. Some were group exercise instructors. And, others were department, facility, or regional managers. One, often overlooked, area is how much you're able to learn from clients.
As a manager, I learned from even more people, including vendors, suppliers, other industry professionals, and each of the team members I was fortunate to support.
While interactions are often remote-first these days, I'm thankful for the continued building of a strong network through platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter. These have made it easy to find inspiring individuals of diverse personal and professional experience, who will challenge and support you in striving for your goals. That encouragement and accountability can go a long way.
To Help You Learn How To Build Leadership Skills.
In the spirit of community, mentorship, and continuous learning, we're fortunate to have several guest contributors, here to share their insights on leadership. Enjoy!
Katie Piekielski | Fitness Franchise Business Manager.
There are so many ways to build your leadership skills, but one of the
most important factors that will allow you to grow as a leader is for
you to be open minded and flexible. One of the biggest mistakes people
make as a leader is that they are too rigid in their mindset.
some great ways to build your leadership skills:
- Learn your leadership style - We all have different
personality characteristics which are reflected in our leadership
styles. In order to be an impactful leader, you must have strong self
awareness. Understanding how you lead and coach can help you adapt to
your team's needs. There is no right or wrong type of leadership style,
however, some may be more effective than others depending on how
individuals on your team are motivated, how they like to be coached,
- Improve your Emotional Intelligence (EQ) - Having high
Emotional Intelligence is extremely valuable when it comes to
leadership. Emotional Intelligence allows you to have strong "people
skills", which helps build relationships, influence and motivate, and
relate to others. You can improve your emotional intelligence by
observing others and taking time to understand, being an active
listener, performing self-evaluations to increase self-awareness, and by
taking responsibility for your actions.
- Take someone under your
wing - The best way to build leadership skills is to get into action and
lead! Grab someone on your team and find out more about them. Ask
them about their strengths and weaknesses, what motivates them, and how
they like to be coached. Then, create small, achievable goals for them,
along with a timeline, and commit to working on getting there
together. Schedule set times to meet with them to train and then do
regular check-ins with them to discuss their progress.
- Be open
to learning - Leadership is the ability to influence. Your leadership
style should be adaptable and flexible, depending on who you are
leading. Understand that each experience allows you to continue to
learn and grow as a leader. Commit to being better each day and put in
the work. Even simple things like reading a leadership book will
enhance your skills and provide you with new perspectives!
Joe Cooper | Co-Founder @ Evolv.
- What I wish I knew when I was thrust into my first leadership role? - It’s
okay to not always be popular. I think if you’ve built up a good enough
relationship with your team then they’ll know that you’re going to have
to make decisions that aren’t easy but they’ll still respect you for
it. There will even be times that your team will genuinely not like you,
but that’s okay. Eventually you’ll make a decision that will win them
back and they’ll respect you for doing hard things.
- What not to do if you want to be a better leader? - Don’t act like you
have all the answers. Be humble. Ask for input. That doesn’t mean you
delegate the responsibility of making decisions to other people, but
recognizing the strengths of your team and the people around you will
make everything better. Understand your weaknesses and utilize other
- One mistake leaders make and what to do instead? - Leading with ego. This
is one of my core philosophies about leadership. You can’t have an ego
and be a successful leader. I think it’s natural for that to creep in
when you’re in a leadership position, so keeping yourself in check by
openly and genuinely asking for feedback and help on a regular basis is
helpful. But there has to be a conscious effort to be humble or you’ll
find yourself in a bad spot before long.
Bobby Kleinau | VP Operations and Branch Development.
What is your brand? Brands are not unique to corporations or
businesses. You have a brand whether you are aware of it or not. All
elevated, successful and progressive leaders put a lot of time into
making sure their personal brand is reflective of their character,
leadership style and personality. What separates the brand of elite
leaders from the "wannabes" is one powerful word, but an even more
powerful action: Intention.
simply means doing things with a purpose and goal. From the moment your
alarm clock goes off in the morning and you put your feet on the floor,
what is your mindset? Is it, "here we go again... another day to
dredge though"? Or is it, "Hell yes! Here we go. Today is going to be a
day of impact, challenges and victories"? What is the big difference
between those 2 thoughts? Are they contingent on where you are in life
and what is going on around you? Leaders don't allow the surrounding
world to dissuade them from their purpose. They are way too intentional
for that. How did these leaders land in this wonderful world of
evolved thinking and intentional living? Well.... They chose it.
Every day is filled with hundreds of choices. Cereal or eggs? Caffeinated or non? Good day or miserable?
you CHOOSE to be INTENTIONAL about your mood, words and actions
combined with the continual (as in never stopping) exploration of self
development and how to maximize your personal brand--only then-- will
you be on the pathway to elite leadership.
Lauren Hess, EdD | Founder @ Lauren Hess Coaching.
Tip for building leadership skills:
hallmark of good leadership is self-awareness. Without knowing
ourselves deeply, it’s difficult to lead from a place of presence and
authenticity. Mindfulness is a foundational skill for building
self-knowledge and self-understanding.
In addition to promoting self-awareness, a consistent mindfulness
meditation practice - as little as 5-10 minutes per day - can enhance
clarity, promote self-compassion, and expand tolerance and objectivity
(among a sea of other benefits). Essentially, practicing
mindfulness means being with the present moment - not ruminating
on the past or thinking about the future. Leading with mindfulness
helps ground you in the here and now, making you more adept at picking
up on the energy and cues of those around you.
Mindful leaders are excellent listeners who are able to focus on the
conversation at hand. Mindfulness is a buzz word for good reason. If you
ask me to show you a capable, empathic leader, I will show you someone
who has learned the art and science of mindful
Nazmina Mohammed (She/Her) | Senior Learning Consultant | Leadership Developer | Meditation Instructor.
The "leader" title is something you can give yourself. You don't need to
be promoted into a certain role to have a greater impact on your work
and those around you. Just remember the responsibility that comes with
the title; the mindsets and behaviors that differentiate a bad leader
from a badass one.
So what are some of these mindsets and behaviors of a badass leader?
- Committing to growing your self-awareness on a daily basis. The more
familiar you are with your inner world, including simple things like how
you're feeling in this moment, the easier it will be for you to show up
with intentionality. You will be more cognizant and thoughtful of the
impact you are have on others. Most of all, people will notice.
- Creating opportunities for your peers and team members to do their
best work. Spotting someone's superpower is fairly easy (and if you
don't know, just ask them). The more opportunities they'll have to do
work they're both good at and love, the more energy they'll give you and
the more they'll want to work with you. If you want to learn more about
how to do this, I highly recommend the book "Multipliers" by Liz
- Deepening your cultural awareness. This means recognizing the nuances of
other cultures as much as your own. More than ever, employees want to
be around leaders who contribute to a sense of belonging and recognize
the myriad of benefits of a more diverse workforce.
A sincere thank you to each of our guest contributors, lending their thoughts on how to build leadership skills. I hope you found value in their insights, and that you'll reach out to connect with them to continue your leadership journey.
For More On Organizational Leadership.
This section of the site is an excellent foundation for developing leadership skills, understanding different types of leadership, and exploring leadership styles.
To continue your learning:
David Bohmiller, MBA, MS (he/him/his)
Founder, CEO and Consulting Executive
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