Can leadership skills be taught?
It’s often believed that truly great leaders are born rather than made. While we all have innate talents and tendencies that make us naturally better at some skills than others, it’s wrong to say that you can’t learn leadership. While some people may find coaching and learning new skills easier, with the right application and a willingness to learn and grow, anyone can become a better leader.
While not everyone is interested in being a leader, those that are can take concrete, practical steps to achieve their goals.
What competencies and skills does a leader need?
Different leaders have different strengths and weaknesses and approach leadership tasks in different ways. There are, however, a number of key skills and competencies that leaders need in order to become effective.
To be a successful leader, it’s important to cultivate these leadership skills at the same time you are developing your own leadership style which suits you, your team and your organisation.
The four key skills that every leader needs are:
Strategic thinking is a critical leadership skill. It is the mental process through which visions are created, and a plan is put in place for how it will be achieved. A strategic thinking process will involve the gathering and analysing of data. That information will then be used to inform the decision-making process. Leadership coaching helps people become more effective at gathering and using information.
Strategic thinking is essential in determining the future direction of the organisation, helping it to become more competitive and effective in a performance-based business environment.
Strategic thinking is one of the most valuable tools that leaders and their organisations can possess.
Effective leaders have exceptional communication skills. This is essential in order to convey the company’s vision and specific team goals. Good communicators are better able to delegate tasks and give clear instructions. Good communication is also a two-way street, meaning that the best leaders welcome feedback and frank discussions. They empower their team members to communicate clearly not only with management but also with their team members. When leaders have exceptional communication skills, they can help other people within their team develop their own communication skills.
Great leaders need to master a range of different communication methods, helping to build trust and inspiring their teams to follow them. Effective leaders are also great listeners and are able to quickly identify the questions that need to be asked. Communication skills for leaders include one-to-one conversations, public speaking, leading meetings, and written communication.
While everyone has different degrees of natural ability when it comes to communication, it’s possible to learn and develop a number of key techniques.
Adaptability and change management
This is a time of huge and rapid change across all sectors. Technology is the principal driver of this change and leaders need to be able to assess emerging trends to ascertain what’s important to their organisation.
The best leaders are able to spot opportunities early and can then communicate their benefits to their teams. This requires a degree of flexibility and openness to the possibilities that technology and changing cultural practices can bring.
Managing change in the workplace can be hugely challenging and needs people skills and effective communication. Team members can be wary of change, and in some cases actively resistant. Plans can change, requiring flexibility and a need to be able to communicate those changes to your team. Effective leaders work with their team to help members become more flexible and adaptive in their approach to work.
Organisational work is generally associated with management roles, but good leaders also need effective organisational skills. This will include good time management, task prioritising and effective scheduling.
To build your leadership skills you will need to develop these time management habits and then instil them in your team. Productivity is more important than merely putting in the hours.
How do you train leadership skills?
Training leadership skills requires intensive, one-on-one and group training with experienced leadership coaches. They will usually begin by helping individuals examine their strengths and weaknesses, and how these relate to different leadership models. They will then introduce techniques to help people develop these skills.
Learning leadership skills requires self-reflection and an incremental approach as you strengthen areas of weakness and look at how to better deploy your strengths to drive results.
Your leadership coach will be your ally throughout the process, helping you become more confident in your abilities.
How do you improve self-leadership?
Self-leadership means identifying and improving your own leadership skills. Someone with strong self-leadership skills will have a developed sense of who they are, their strengths and weaknesses, what they can do and their own goals. This will be coupled with an ability to influence communication styles, behaviours, and emotions. Self-leadership is the awareness that makes what you do as a leader more purposeful and directed.
Leadership coaching helps leaders develop these key self-reflective skills, enabling them to take an analytical look at their strengths and weaknesses, and then develop strategies to improve going forward.
Develop your leadership skills with Leadership Success
At Leadership Success, we have a proven track record of delivering results for our clients. Our participants report a 40% increase in job performance on average after completing our programme of leadership coaching.
To find out more about our programmes and discuss your own leadership journey contact us today.