You may thrive on the competition of working through the ranks, seeking promotion after promotion, but if you don't develop your leadership skills, you're not going to thrive once you reach your goal of a top-level management position. Here are seven areas to focus on to help ensure you have what it takes to lead your team into the future.
1. Keep Your Mission in Mind
It's easy to get caught up in the daily minutiae of management, but no matter how many details you need to attend to, it's important to keep your company's and team's missions firmly in mind as you handle your daily tasks. Have a vision, and make sure your activities and your department's activities always move you forward in the direction desired.
2. Communicate Well
Great communication is one of the most important leadership skills. Keep lines of communication open with each member of your team. Be sure to share your vision, and let your staff know how they each contribute to the company mission. Remember that great listening skills go hand in hand with better communication, and empathize with struggling workers, providing support and suggestions to fuel improvement.
3. Set a Good Example
Show your team you truly value qualities, such as promptness, honesty and productivity, by being prompt, honest and productive yourself. Take responsibility for your mistakes, and work to fix problem areas quickly. Never expect your team to exhibit traits you fail to show yourself.
4. Learn to Prioritize
Prioritization is an important leadership skill to help you manage your time more effectively. As you focus on your mission, prioritize activities that make a stronger impact on the big picture. Learn the difference between important tasks and urgent tasks, and make sure that important items don't get delayed during busy periods.
5. Be Decisive
An indecisive leader appears to lack confidence, which adds stress to the whole team. Be confident in your decision-making and show your workforce you're willing to take responsibility if something goes wrong. This sets an example and shows your staff you value your convictions.
6. Empower Your Team
Micromanagement is a sure way to reduce growth and innovation in your staff. Instead, empower your workers to take charge of their daily schedules and offer them opportunities that develop new skills. Be sure to praise employee successes, and offer supportive feedback when things go wrong.
7. Express Gratitude
A regular practice of gratitude is contagious. Thank your staff for the things they do that make your day go smoothly. Whether it's a project completed successfully, a client secured or simply a few copies made quickly when you need them, take the time to verbally express your gratitude to the people responsible for the task. Gratitude is an easy leadership skill to learn, but it's foundational to increasing the optimism in your department.
Not everyone who makes management has the leadership skills necessary to be a success. Start developing your leadership skills to be ready to step into your new role with confidence. With a grateful attitude, better communication skills and a few time management techniques, you'll be better prepared to succeed as a member of the leadership team.
Photo courtesy of Dougherty Marketing News at Flickr.com