Developing Leadership Skills

What is a leader? The term “leader” varies slightly depending on who you ask:

  • According to EducationYahoo.com, a leader is: “a person who is in charge or in command of others.”

  • According to Management.About.com, a leader is: “a person who has a vision, a drive and a commitment to achieve that vision, and the skills to make it happen.”

  • According to Vtaide.com, a leader is: “a person who influences a group of people towards the achievement of a goal.”

In essence, a leader is someone that others want to follow. They believe in their cause and are inspired and motivated to find others that want to learn, follow and agree with their motivations.

Leaders vs. Followers

Every group has dynamics. One person may be a leader in one group and a follower in another. Every member of a group cannot be a leader. Likewise, every member of a group cannot be a follower. Without effective leaders and followers within groups, the groups do not work successfully.

In professional settings there are leaders and there are followers. Leaders are usually the individuals who are put in charge of overseeing departments or who are responsible for special projects. It is their job to motivate the followers in the organization to form teams that are responsible for accomplishing specific tasks or goals. The website Ehow.com sums up this concept very well with the statement: “Leaders help employees to focus and motivate them to accomplish their goals. Followers help a company succeed by uniting under a leader and following his direction.”

Both leaders and followers are necessary in any organization. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being a follower. Followers are important and they help an organization achieve success. However, leaders are often more respected, earn more money, and receive more promotions.

Leaders and Managers are not the Same

When talking about the professional realm, it is easy to lump the terms “leader” and “manager” into the same category. These two titles, however, are not the same at all. A leader is a person that is respected and well-liked. A leader is motivational and evokes a response in others that produces results. A manager, on the other hand, does not necessarily have the skills or the passion to encourage others to work hard or to be influenced. Managers are sometimes leaders, but they are not always strong leaders.

How to Develop Leadership Skills in the Workplace

If you are passionate about anything at all, you are likely already a leader in some regard. If you are enthusiastic about something, you probably talk positively about it and encourage others to agree with you. In order to become a leader in a professional environment, use your already developed leadership skills in your workplace. Taking small steps is ok!

Transferring your leadership skills into your professional life is not difficult. It requires that you adhere to a few specific practices:

  • You must be determined and clear on your beliefs and goals. If you want others in your organization to have similar beliefs and goals you must truly commit yourself to your vision!

  • You must remain strong and unwavering. Others will rely on your steadfastness and will look to you for a sense of determination and guidance.

  • Your leadership skills must be aligned with your moral values. If you try to be someone that you are not while convincing others to follow you, you will not be successful.

  • You must respect all members of your group. Just because someone is labeled a “follower” does not mean that they are not important. You must provide every member of your group with an equal level of respect.

  • You must set goals and stick to them. A leader is not a person who waivers or changes their plan on a whim. A leader makes decisions and commits to them.

  • You must be able to admit when you are wrong. A good leader is not always right. But, a good leader is able to see mistakes and fix them with humility. Admitting to mistakes is an excellent way to gain the respect of others.

  • You must never be negative about reaching a goal. People look to leaders to guide them to the finish line. When a leader becomes negative, the rest of the group perceives this as quitting. As soon as a leader shows signs of weakness a group will easily fall apart and fail.

What is a Great Leader?

A great leader in a professional setting is one that is always striving to be successful, but not by stepping on others. A respected leader knows that there is always room to grow and always information to learn. In order to succeed professionally as a leader, constant attention must be given to growing and improving your leadership skills. Therefore, don’t just aspire to becoming a “manger.” Aspire to becoming a true “leader.”

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Written by Melanie Fischer, Career & Job Expert who has been writing professionally for over 10 years.