How to Develop Leadership Skills: Advice From Our Top Experts

If you’ve always wanted to be a true leader but have felt that you just weren’t born with the natural ability to lead, you may have given up on that dream. The truth is, everyone is a potential leader. Sure, some people are born with a bit of an advantage, but leadership is actually a set of specific skills that you have to work on to master.

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We believe that anyone can become a phenomenal leader if they put their mind to it. All it takes is an understanding of how to develop leadership skills and a willingness to put in the work necessary.

If you’re curious about how you can start developing  effective leadership skills today, you came to the right place. Here is some good leadership advice from our top experts to help you get started on honing in on those skills.

Define Your Personal Ethics Clearly

What is ethical leadership? In order to lead other people, you must first become self-aware. Take a moment to look inward and take an inventory of everything that you’re working on for yourself. What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? If you can’t be honest with yourself, you can’t be honest with any followers that you may get. And if you can’t be honest with your followers, they won’t trust you and will likely see right through you.

Once you have defined this and figured out a bit what you’re all about, take a moment to define your ethical compass. A great leader is an ethical leader . If you don’t set aside some time to address any biases or personal issues that may get in between you and leading effectively, you’re setting yourself up for failure.

It’s worth it to take the time before you even start practicing leadership to work on yourself so you can be a better person and, in turn, a great leader down the road.

Become a Fantastic Listener

Another key to becoming a great leader is to work on your skill of listening. If you pay attention, you’ll notice that all most people want is to be listened to and to be understood. If you hope to be a great leader, you need to make sure that you can be a great listener.

We’re not just talking about hearing people here. You need to listen with intent. You need to listen actively. Allow the person speaking to you to speak their piece and listen to the words that they are actually saying without judgment and without trying to project your own thoughts on the subject onto them.

The reason that it’s important to listen is two-fold; not only do you earn people’s trust and make them feel heard, you’re also able to gain insight into a different perspective that you may not have considered before. You can’t lead a person unless you understand where they’re coming from.

Think Critically and Strategically

If you’re looking to lead a group of people, you need to practice your critical thinking skills. 

As a business leader, you need to be able to anticipate problems that could arise ahead of time. You should also be able to prevent problems before they even happen by implementing practices that keep things functioning better. Good leaders are proactive and stay prepared always.

Another good practice is to understand what is strategic leadership and use its techniques when developing effective leadership skills. Some good examples of this are not only anticipating issues but taking into account all different perspectives when making a decision. When planning ahead, sit down and look at all of the data and information available before you create a few different options for how to move forward.

The key here is to stay open to changing your mind. This allows you to remain flexible and never stop thinking up new and improved ideas for how to run things so that you can be the best leader possible.

Become Adept at Handling Conflict

Do you know what is the difference between leadership and management? These are two different things but handling conflict is something that anyone in either of these positions of power needs to become a pro at.

When there are any more than two people in a room, the possibility of conflict arising goes up. If you’re a successful leader with multiple people following you, that possibility of conflict is only multiplied. 

As the leader, it’s your job to handle and resolve conflict whenever it arises. Whether the conflict is between two of your employees or between a particularly difficult follower and yourself, you can’t just ignore the issue and hope that it works itself out.

To handle conflict, take each person involved aside and have a private conversation. This is when active listening comes into play. Hear them out on what they think the problem is without taking sides or passing judgment. Be honest, find solutions, and, if things don’t work out, don’t shy away from taking disciplinary action as needed.

Empower and Inspire Others

A great leader is one that makes others feel empowered and inspired. 

Think of the last great teacher or boss that you had. What about them made them so incredible to you? How did they make you feel, and what were you able to do for yourself as a result of that leadership? Did you walk away from a good conversation or lesson from them feeling energized, moved, and motivated?

To become that teacher or boss that you were inspired by yourself, you need to understand the wants and needs of the people who you are leading.

Take people’s feelings into account and develop your communication skills. Check in on them and see how they’re doing. Offer advice or praise depending on what you can tell they need at that moment. If you make people feel seen, heard, and valued, they respond with a positive attitude , creating a healthier and more mutually beneficial relationship between you and others.

Develop and Practice Discipline in Your Life

If you’re holding your followers or employees to a certain standard, set the standard even higher for yourself. 

Remain disciplined by completing projects in a timely fashion, keeping all appointments that you make, beginning and ending meetings on time, every time. This will inspire discipline and motivation in your employees by setting the example yourself.

To take this a step further, practice self-discipline in other aspects of your personal life, as well. Answer emails promptly. Wake up on the same time every day. Keep up with a weekly phone call to your friends or family. 

Take Time to Learn How to Follow Effectively

Though it may come as a surprise to some, you have to be a good follower in order to become a good leader. Take the time to understand that there will be times where it’s more appropriate to yield than to lead.If you know what is laissez faire leadership then it wouldn’t be a bad idea to practice some laissez faire style leadership from time to time, just to allow your employees room to grow.

This means understanding when someone offers critique or has questions about leadership choices that you make. Getting defensive or angry with an employee for voicing their concerns shows a lack of willingness to have a symbiotic relationship with your employees.

Instead of seeing the ideas offered by others as competition or as a threat, consider it a sign of your good leadership that people feel comfortable and confident coming up with their own concepts instead of just following orders. 

Practice Makes a Leader

Nobody wakes up one morning and is suddenly a business leader. While you’re still learning, it’s important to just keep at it.

Practice incorporating new aspects of strong leadership skills into your life each week. Small steps are the perfect place to start. Remember to be patient with yourself, understand that you’re still learning, and don’t give up.

Once you do feel like you’ve become a great leader, keep practicing actively. Think about what you would want a good leader to do, and then do that. Trust yourself. If you do something wrong, correct your mistake and keep working on it.

Never Stop Learning

The key to leadership is that it’s an ongoing process. The more we learn, the more we can adjust our leadership styles so that they’re appropriate for each new situation. 

To be an exceptional leader, you should never settle. Always lookout for new things to learn and new ways to lead. Remain open to being flexible and yes, even to changing your mind on things that you were sure of in the past.

If you feel that you’re stagnating, seek out feedback from people you trust. They could be able to offer an outside perspective when you feel stuck.

Developing and Honing Your Leadership Skills Is a Process

Developing your leadership skills is something that will take time. 

To learn more about what is leadership style and which leadership style best fits you, look to Maui Mastermind for more expert advice on how to run your business successfully.

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How to Develop Leadership Skills: Advice From Our Top Experts
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How to Develop Leadership Skills: Advice From Our Top Experts
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Maui Mastermind Business Coaching
Business David is a Wall Street Journal and Business Week bestselling author of 11 business and financial books. A syndicated columnist for Inc.com and HuffingtonPost.com, David’s articles have appeared in over 6,500 publications. As the founder and CEO of Maui Mastermind®, David has worked with 100,000+ business coaching clients and community members to buy, build, and sell over $5 billion of businesses.