Upgrade Your Leadership Skills

One of the opportunities, and consequences, of becoming more productive and successful tends to be encountering additional leadership responsibilities.

For a handful of good reasons, people who accomplish more than most others are often asked to lead both people and projects. Even when not asked, productive and successful people often see and want to pursue opportunities that in most cases will work out better with them in a leadership role.

This puts leadership skills front and center among the helpful attributes you’ll want to cultivate in your work and life.

To help you prepare for such situations, here is a brief roadmap of leadership skills you may want try to develop in yourself, and perhaps in those around you:

Managing Yourself

You can’t lead others successfully unless you first have yourself under control. This generally involves:

  • Developing situational awareness.
  • Maintaining mastery of relevant skills.
  • Learning to effectively gather and utilize resources.
  • Focusing on goal-oriented behavior.

If you’re consistently able to get done the things you care about, you’re probably pretty good at managing yourself.

Leading the Troops

This first level of leadership involves accepting a goal and getting a group of people to work together to accomplish it. This generally involves:

  • Communicating not only the goal, but the reason it’s important, as well as each person’s role in helping the team get there.
  • Sequencing and prioritizing a series of actions likely to produce favorable results and accomplish the goal.
  • Assigning these tasks to team members in ways that maximize use of each individual’s abilities and overall team performance.
  • Observing and understanding what each team member is doing, and – as necessary – steering individuals back on track before they wander too far afield.
  • Listening to input and feedback from the troops, to expand and enhance your situational awareness.
  • Providing team members with feedback to increase their motivation and improve their future performance.

If you’re consistently able to get people to work together and accomplish particular goals, you’re probably pretty good at leading a team.

Leading Team Leaders

This second level of leadership involves leading people who themselves are team leaders. It’s far more complicated than simply leading a team, and usually involves:

  • Identifying and implementing the most effective allocation of scarce resources among the team leaders.
  • Coaching or mentoring those you are leading so as to stimulate their intelligence and understanding, rather than simply telling them exactly what to do.
  • Training those you are leading so they can become better team leaders.
  • Instilling a broad understanding of the goals at hand so they can recognize their respective roles in the overall effort and better cooperate with other team leaders.

If you’re consistently able to get team leaders to cooperate with each other and get the most from their teams, you’re probably pretty good at leading team leaders.

Leading Organizations

A step up from leading team leaders is leading entire organizations. This expands the responsibility of leading team leaders to additionally involve:

  • Understanding the “business” you are in to better recognize what’s most important, both now and in the future.
  • Establishing and maintaining standards for whatever output – whether product or service – falls within your responsibility.
  • Thinking strategically to establish worthwhile goals and set up solid methods to accomplish them.
  • Planning and developing better ways to deliver short-, medium-, and long-term successful outcomes.
  • Making smart, effective decisions to keep the organization moving toward your goals.
  • Communicating with all stakeholders, sharing your vision, and, as appropriate, incorporating stakeholder values and considerations.

If you’re consistently able to move organizations in desired directions and get large groups of people to collaborate and accomplish significant goals, you’re probably pretty good at leading organizations.

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