Leadership is a complex, multifaceted concept with many potential definitions.
For the purposes of a simple explanation: leadership is getting people to accomplish something together that will make a difference. You can be the smartest person in the world and you still need followers if you want to lead others.
Leadership is an art that is honed over a lifetime. It’s always a work in progress. Many of us have latent leadership skills which we didn’t realize we had until a specific situation triggered them.
This is why many people feel they can’t be leaders. It is much easier to follow than to lead, but it takes hard work—and learning from others—to develop your natural leadership skills and become the best leader possible.
The best leaders not only know how to lead others, they also know how to lead themselves. Self-leadership is the ability to direct your own life and be proactive about your goals and dreams.
The most successful leaders don’t let others tell them how to live their lives. They take the reins of their destiny and make informed decisions that are in their best interest, for the greater good of everyone involved.
Here are some of the best self-leadership skills:
Having self-awareness is key to any good leadership strategy.
A good leader continually reflects on where they are at, what it means for them at this point in their life, and how they can best utilize that to make a difference for the greater good.
The best leaders know what their strengths and weaknesses are, as well as their limitations in certain situations.
They don’t let these things hinder them; instead, they make up for it by surrounding themselves with people who are skilled in the areas they lack.
Being introspective allows you to be your own best critic and motivate yourself when things get tough or you need a little push. Introspection allows you to be honest with yourself and be open to change.
This skill is easy to practice by keeping a journal. Make sure that you review it regularly, looking for patterns and opportunities for improvement.
What do your patterns of thinking say about you? How does this affect your relationships with others? Are there areas in which you could improve?
Taking risks is essential in the development of any strong leader.
Everyone tries to steer clear of failure, but sometimes it’s the only way to succeed. When you take risks, they can propel you forward into new opportunities or they can be a dead-end that leads nowhere.
The key to effective risk-taking is having a good sense of self and knowing when you’re taking a risk that will positively benefit you in the future.
Being a risk-taker is not about taking unnecessary risks or always aiming for high-stakes risks, but rather taking calculated risks in the right context. This is something you’ll learn if you do any leadership training or study for a qualification like an MBA.
The most effective leader understands that communication is key in all relationships, whether personal or professional.
The more effectively you communicate with others, the more likely they are to follow your lead toward specific goals and outcomes.
Communication skills can be acquired through years of practice, with the help of others who are willing to give constructive feedback about their impressions of how well you communicate in different situations. This will help you grow into an even more effective leader as time goes on.
You can develop these skills by building self-confidence and using personal affirmations consistently. Practice them often until they become part of who you are.
Feedback is essential in the learning process, especially when it comes to leadership. Many people are not aware of their strengths and weaknesses as leaders. The first step is to find out where you stand.
In order to do this, list your strengths and weaknesses. Ask your colleagues, loved ones, and mentors what they think your strong suits are, as well as where you may need improvement.
The introspection required for this task can be quite challenging for some people. If you’re one of those people, the extra effort will be worth it in the end since leading yourself (and others) effectively requires knowing what works best for you—and knowing how others see you.
Leaders foster a growth mindset among their followers by setting them up for success through their words and actions.
The belief that you can improve yourself is a powerful tool in your leadership arsenal. It’s much easier to follow than to lead, but it takes hard work—and learning from others—to develop your natural leadership skills and become the best leader possible.
Leaders who set themselves up for failure are not being authentic and putting their followers at risk of disillusionment. The reality is that everyone started as a leader. You don’t lack leadership qualities if you find it difficult to step into the role of leader.
Most organizations are made up of teams and teams consist of individuals who need to bring their best selves to the table.
Being a good leader within your organization doesn’t mean you have all the answers or that you can fix any situation. It means that when you run into issues, you’re willing to listen and create an open environment where people feel safe opening up and leading with compassion.
The art of leading your organization comes down to building authentic relationships with your colleagues and being able to trust them in times of crisis. A sense of safety is essential to a productive work environment where people are able to collaborate effectively toward common goals.
Giving and receiving feedback is a vital part of the growth process. It can be difficult, but often necessary, especially when it comes to coaching your employees. Effective leaders are able to feed valuable information back to their teams in a way that inspires them to improve their performance or behavior.
Feedback is a gift because it gives you information about how you are doing that can help you make changes in order to succeed. The important thing about receiving feedback is how you respond to it.
Instead of feeling bad about yourself for making mistakes or for not being perfect, use feedback as a way of improving yourself and your leadership style so that you can achieve your goals and win respect from your followers along the way.
The ability to motivate yourself and your team is a powerful tool in the right hands.
Motivation is essential in keeping people motivated and on track to reach the goals you’ve set out together. If you’re the leader, it’s up to you to set those goals and drive people forward.
If your team is struggling, don’t assume that it’s because they lack motivation or determination; instead, ask them what they need from you in order to do their best.
The key to improving leadership and motivating yourself is to allow yourself the freedom to discover your own motivations.
If you realize that the desire to be a leader isn’t something you inherently have, then you can begin to find other ways in which you might be able to serve others and provide value for them, even if it’s not in the same way as being a leader.
A great way of inspiring yourself is by taking time out each day for introspective reflection.
Leaders, who are compassionate and thoughtful, communicate positively with their team members through their actions or words.
Vision is an essential part of being a good leader because it provides a framework for your team to work within.
The best leaders are able to paint pictures with their words and provide a clear vision of what they want to achieve along with the steps they need to take in order to reach their goals.
A compelling vision can keep your team going through difficult times, especially if you help them visualize the end result and hold yourself accountable for bringing them there.
The most important thing about achieving success is ensuring that you continue moving forward and staying positive about reaching your dreams.
Leadership is a skill that can be learned, and the best leaders are lifelong learners.
They’re always growing, learning about themselves and others as well as their surroundings in order to become a better leader.
It’s never too late to start leading or to improve your leadership skills. Although you can’t learn everything there is to know overnight, it’s easy to commit yourself to small actions or changes that will move you in the right direction.
Be wary of overcommitting though, and make sure that your actions are sustainable before you start.
Be realistic with yourself and try to fit rest breaks or meditation time into your schedule.
If you want to become a better leader, you’re going to have to put in the work, but it will be worth it.
Finally, keep yourself motivated by always thinking about the reasons why you want to improve as a leader. Create rewards for yourself that correspond with achieving different goals and encourage your team along the way.
You might not see results right away, but with perseverance and self-reflection, you will slowly but surely improve your leadership skills and grow into an even better leader than you thought was possible.