How to find and develop your unique leadership skills in a sea of styles…
What is leadership? Many people have different definitions for this word. For some, it may mean being the head of a company or organization. Others may think of someone who is passionate and motivates others to achieve a common goal. There are many different types of leaders, but all share one common trait: the ability to inspire others.
Leadership is not about having authority over others.
It’s about using your positive influence to achieve the best outcomes and helping others reach their fullest potential. A leader must be able to:
- Communicate effectively
- Listen actively
- Build relationships
- Create a vision that others can support
- Motivate and inspire others
And finally, leaders must be able to make tough decisions, even when it means sacrificing their own interests for the greater good.
I want to develop my leadership skills
Maybe you’re confident that you can lead a team, or you’re struggling to get on the right path to leadership. But one thing is for sure: the ability to lead begins with refining those crucial skills and continuing to improve them to highlight your unique leadership style.
Because great leaders aren’t born—they’re made.
And, because each leadership style is uniquely distinctive, each message and delivery will be different. This is precisely what distinguishes you from the rest of the world. Nobody wants to sit through a conference and listen to a bunch of monotone robots reading the latest annual report, presenting the newest product launch, or trying to energize the crowd. While you can try to imitate, remember that you have what it takes to create something unique and your own.
What’s the best way to learn leadership skills?
There’s technically no way to answer that. Because we all learn differently, there is no single best way. However, you have many opportunities to develop your leadership skills, such as:
- Learning from other leaders that inspire you
- Observing the behavior of other leaders
- Reading books on leadership
- Taking classes on leadership development
- Practicing these skills in your everyday life
- Attending live talks and conferences
So, out of curiosity, I googled: I want to develop my leadership skills.
The search returned approximately 1,500,000,000 results. All this to say, there’s a lot of advice and resources out there. And while that opportunity is huge, always remember that YOU GET TO DECIDE:
Who you are
What and who you want to become
What you want to accomplish
Nobody has the right to or should determine that for you. This is your life, dreams, and accomplishments. Get behind the wheel and drive.
With growth comes growing pains
When someone throws you a curveball—and they will—find ways to counter the effect. You’ll have naysayers or perhaps one person trying to define who you are. But, again, they don’t get to decide.
That box someone wants you to fit so neatly into? That’s a no-go. Your life, talents, and dreams are yours. If someone so desperately wants to lay your life plans out for you, that’s not your issue. That’s their issue. Not the definition of who you’ll be.
This is a huge step in developing your leadership skills because you will gain belief in yourself, confidence, and an understanding that friction and failure can lead to success.
When was the last time you did some soul-searching?
The world, it’s full of noise—and that noise can mute that inner voice that can help us on our journey. We’re inundated with picture-perfect (although highly curated) lives, messaging, and advice on what our next steps should be. When was the last time you took time for yourself to truly focus on what your desires and goals are?
If you can’t remember, then it’s a sign to take some time for yourself. Quiet your mind and listen to that inner voice. What does it have to say? What are your deepest desires? What do you wish to achieve?
Once you know what you want, you can begin working towards making your dreams a reality. So don’t be afraid to take some time for yourself. This might just be the most important thing you do on your leadership journey.
If all the noise was quieted and there was no such thing as a like or follow what would that inner voice have to share?
How to quiet the noise and go within
It’s important to take some time for ourselves every now and again to evaluate our goals and desires. Without taking this time to reflect, we can quickly lose sight of what’s truly important to us.
One way to quiet the noise and go within is to practice meditation. Meditation allows us to focus on our breath and create a space of stillness within the mind. From this place of stillness, we can begin to listen to our inner voice and connect with our intuition.
It’s not uncommon for people to say that they cannot meditate. However, meditation is a practice, not something you can do one day and never revisit. We simply cannot wake up one morning and think we can shoot 3-pointers because we like the thought of being good at basketball. Practice fosters growth, just as anything that requires it does, including developing leadership skills.
Journaling can also be helpful by providing a space to reflect on our thoughts and feelings without judgment. From this place of inner peace and clarity, we can more easily access our intuition and find the answers we are seeking.
You can begin by putting your thoughts in order with the dates and times attached. You can then check to see what has changed, transpired, or no longer aligns with your goals.
First, choose a format that feels comfortable for you. You can write in a traditional notebook, use an online journaling platform, or even dictate your entries into a voice recorder. Many people choose to journal in their notes app on their phones. This way, your thoughts and ideas are protected by the phone’s passcode or identification tools to ensure they are kept out of sight and away from prying eyes.
Second, set aside some time each day (or week) to write in your journal. This doesn’t have to be a lot of time, but it’s important to be consistent. Finally, be honest with yourself. There’s no right or wrong way to journal, so do whatever feels best for you. Journaling is a safe space for you to express your thoughts, feelings, and those leadership skills you want to reveal and develop, so don’t hold back.
Sit quietly and visualize
Maybe meditation or journaling isn’t your thing. What works for one doesn’t work for all. You can, however, sit quietly in an environment that feels good to you. What does that look like for you? In your bedroom with candles? During a bubble bath or morning shower? Sitting in a hammock in the middle of a forest? In a parking lot in the middle of running errands?
As you breathe normally, close your eyes and ask yourself the questions that relate to and matter most to you. Then visualize. Like an artist, move through the details of what that looks like to you—and then paint your masterpiece.
Please remember visualization doesn’t have to reflect on your current situation unless that’s your focus. Let’s try to visualize what your IDEAL situation looks like to you. Choose only one or a few starting questions and thoroughly describe each within your thoughts. Below are a few ideas to begin painting your mental picture:
- What does your leadership style look like?
- What clothing do you wear?
- How do you relate to and engage with your team?
- How do you listen and speak?
- What does a day in your life as a leader look like?
- What do people know you for, and how would they describe you?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
When you’re ready, take your visualization a step further:
- What topic are you presenting or teaching?
- How confident are you when you convey your message?
- In what ways are you inspiring and encouraging others?
Visualization is a good practice for all areas of your life, including:
- What does your dream job look like?
- Do you work 9-5, or choose your own hours?
- Are you an entrepreneur? Do you support and work with a small, large, or non-profit organization?
- What time do you wake up? Go to sleep?
- How do you spend your workday?
- What do you do after work? On weekends? On holidays?
- What does your dream home look like?
- Where is it?
- Who is there, if anyone?
- What does the living area look like? The bedroom? The kitchen?
- Imagine your home in sunny, rainy, and snowy weather. Create a mental picture of your home’s landscape
Set your leadership skills goals and achieve them
Your goals are your own. You get to choose what you want to achieve. You’re the only one who knows what you deeply desire.
While you’re finding your footing or starting your leadership journey, don’t compare yourself to others. We all have unique talents and abilities, so there’s no point in trying to be like somebody else. Embrace your individuality and be proud of who you are. After all, it’s what makes you extraordinary.
Achieving your goals is not always easy, but it is always worth the effort. Pursuing your dreams requires dedication and hard work, but the rewards are incredible. When you finally reach your destination, you will feel a sense of accomplishment like no other. Although the journey may be tough, remember that every step forward is one step closer to your goal. So never give up on your dreams—and always keep moving forward in the way you wish to go.