Leadership - Skill Development

This is one part of a whole series on leadership.  Check the leadership introduction here for all articles in the series.

Skill development is crucial to advancing your leadership ability and a strong focus on specific leadership skills can not only shore up any shortcomings but can also massively boost your abilities as a leader.  Not a lot of people take their own initiative to develop their skills but this is one area that is very easy to do for a leader.  You’ve probably all heard the saying that leaders are made, not born and it’s all to do with developing the right skills to become a leader.  Anyone can do it and then apply those skills in a style that suits them.

Whether leadership is all new to you or you have years of experience, there are always areas to improve your skills and so putting some attention to the development of those is important.

If you missed the previous article in this series, you might want to review that first.  Leadership: Know Yourself and Your Capabilities

Reading

I cannot promote this one enough and unfortunately it is a task that few people actually make common in their lives.  A sad fact that reoccurs in North American surveys is that nearly 60% of all adults never read another book after high school and more than 80% did not read a single book in the past year.

Leadership - Give Direction
Leadership – Skill Development

Photo Credit: trazmumbalde @ flickr

I was one of those statistics until about 3-4 years ago when I found and tackled reading a couple of leadership books.  I had never realized how much there was to learn in books as I had always read the wrong books.  They just didn’t interest me and I was typically bored before I could finish a few pages.  With finding books that actually helped to train and development my skills, I was able to experience a new love for books and I’ve ramped up my reading to where I’ve read over 30 books this year alone!  I now consider books to be one of the best resources for new knowledge that exists.  And yes, I still rank them far higher than the internet, so if you read my blog but you don’t read books, then please find a book of interest from my many book reviews and don’t come back until you finish it!

Reading is a fantastic way to develop new skills and master the ones you already have.  It gives you access to learn from experts in any subject and it is a cheap and quick way to experience and take in a lot of knowledge that would be very time consuming and costly to learn the hard way by trial and error.  Of course reading expert books can’t replace personal experience, especially with something as personal as leadership, but it can easily give you ideas, a foundation of knowledge and a massive jump start into an area that is so huge, a lifetime can easily be spent developing it.  That area is of course leadership.

Continuous Learning

Considering the scale of leadership and simply how much there is to learn, it isn’t something you just learn once and then be done with it.  It requires you to be learning and developing your skills further and further.  A leader will never stay a leader if they are not able to progress themselves and so continuous learning is an excellent way to not only stay ahead of a group of followers but it is also useful to spark innovation, creativity and changes in a leader’s style or approach that makes them more effective.

Adapting and Changing

Refining your skills inevitably leads to realizing that there is room for change.  Room to adapt and adjust your methods to fit new people, situations or simply because of a change in leadership knowledge.  The ability of a leader to change is easily detected by followers and quick adaptations can be very inspiring.  Not only the adaptation itself, but also in the results those changes can bring about.

Aside from the inspiration or motivation that change can feed to others, it is also necessary in a competitive world.  Adapting to the rapid changes is a best way to stay ahead and for a leader this is not only with external factors in their area of influence but also the areas within it.  Adopting an acceptance of change so that new areas are looked at as opportunities instead of problems or roadblocks allows a leader to carry things through any transitions.

As these changes occur, the skills required to stay effective as a leader will also change.  A good leader accepts this and not only looks to get through the change, but to also lead the change itself.  Since the change is innevitable for survival, why not continue to develop your skills and take the change on, head on as a leader.



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