Building Your Leadership Skills

Is there such a thing as a born leader? Leadership involves a set of skills that can be improved, tweaked and enhanced.  These skills need to be practiced in order to be the best that they can be.

We all have talents that lend themselves naturally to leadership.  You may be a people person, a dreamer or a natural motivator.  We also have tendencies that hamper our ability to effectively lead others.  I personally have to resist my urge to jumping into a project before thinking it through.  Others may have a difficult time understanding other points of view and may not naturally listen to other opinions.  Another tendency may be to change courses too often, always working to seek a better way.

Leadership is a collection of all methods we use to motivate and coordinate others to want to work to make our vision a reality.  To be our best, these methods require practice.  All professions find a way to practice, to enhance their skills.  As doctors, they call the work we do in the exam room "practicing."  Actors and professional speakers rehearse their acts.  Pilots and police officers go through simulations to enhance skills so they are ready if the life or death moment ever shows.  Athletes of all kinds use drills to enhance particular skills in their sport.

Try these one day "Leadership Drills" to improve your skills with your team:

  • Improve Everyone's Day - Make a point of making every person you come in contact with have a better day.  Look for ways to compliment everyone.  Make a point to make them smile or feel better about themselves.  Start with your team, your family and every one of your patients.  It is easy to support a leader who makes us feel better.
  • Ask Questions and Listen to the Answers - Sometimes it is difficult to ask for help or for advice.  So to become a better listener, make a point of asking members of your team questions.  Look at them while they reply and then ask yourself, "Did I truly hear the answer?"
  • Find Someone to Do It Better - For each task that you do during the day, stop long enough to think if there is someone on your team who could do it better.  Create a list during the day and use it as you are considering delegating these tasks to your team.
  • Share a Note with Leaders You Admire - We have all been part of organizations that were led by people who have shaped us.  Sharing a note with these individuals is a nice payback, but it also forces you to reflect on what aspects of their leadership made a difference to you.

Simply by deciding to focus on one of these drills for an entire day, you will notice that it becomes second nature.  The task will seem easier, not because it has changed but because our ability to do it has increased.