Leadership Skills, a must for all leaders

We all want to grow as its important for our survival and fulfillment. While for some; this means being a designated leader with a higher salary and perks, expanded span of control and higher decision-making power. For others; it’s about better knowledge, expertise or sharpening their leadership skills.


Either way, most of us find the leadership role lucrative and aspiring. Yet, when we are given the role of leading, it can send a shiver down our spine and make most of us feel shaky! In fact, very few people actually feel confident in a leadership role from day 1.



Why we feel the jitters when we start off leading


There are multiple reasons for this. Let’s identify a few below:


  • Lack of Experience – The individual was an outperformer in their previous role. They, however, have had no exposure to a leadership role


  • Lack of Training – There is no formal leadership skills training or mentorship the individual has been exposed to


  • Mindset and Skills needed – The person was good at their job as an executioner. They now, however, have to get people to execute the work for them. And this is a complete change in role, mindset and the skills required of them


  • Personality Traits – Their personality traits are more in tune with being a follower, executioner, individual contributor or subject matter expert over a being a leader


  • Increased Responsibility – Accountability and responsibility have increased multifold, as they are now answerable to all their internal and external stakeholders


  • Decision Making – Decisions can go wrong and they are afraid of being held responsible or even penalized for the consequences


  • Lack of Direction – The individual was previously in a middle management role where they could take advise and suggestions from their seniors. Being the higher authority themselves now, they are expected to offer advise and may not have someone whom they can take it from


  • Managing Change – The world is continuously changing. They therefore have to take decisions and actions which have no precedent, nor are they sure of the outcomes


  • Being Open – They cannot share their vulnerability and failure with others easily due to expectations from a leader of always being strong



These are just some of the reasons that come to mind. I’m sure we can identify a dozen more if we put our minds to it further!



Becoming a Successful Leader


So, how can one overcome these to become a successful leader? The first step is being aware of one’s capabilities and fears when it comes to leading. This helps us make use of our strengths and work on our areas of development.


Some steps one can take to smoothen their landing into a leadership position are:


Step 1: Assess yourself well. Not everyone is suited to the leadership role. If you are someone who enjoys executing tasks, prefers being a follower or is more comfortable being a team player over leading, than leadership may not be for you. And honestly, there’s nothing wrong with that! Scientists, actors, singers, etc. also grow to great heights without leading anyone.


Step2: Know what you are stepping into. Try a soft run, speak to people in that role, speak to the team you may lead. Understand fully the challenges a leader faces.


Step 3: Not all leadership is an inborn talent. Leadership can be developed. So, find some good short term and long term courses on leadership skills or managerial skills and invest your time in upgrading yourself.


Step 4: Assess your skills. A leader’s main job is strategic thinking and execution, people management, delegation, problem solving and decision making, managing growth and ensuring profitability. Identify the skills you are good at and which ones you need to develop.


Step 5: Make use of Mentorship. Choose a good mentor, one who has been there and done it. Your mentor can guide you step by step and be there when you face challenges.


Step 6: Learn to manage your nervesThis takes time and a lot of practice. Most leaders, however, thrive when they can do the same. Such leaders stay balanced during challenges and know how to convert challenges into opportunities. And that definitely requires a sound mind!


Step 7: Learn the science of motivation and teamwork. Leaders have to deal more with people and less with hard skills or machines. A good leader helps their people achieve their dreams, which in turn helps realize the organizational dream. They are well aware of the fact that only a motivated and collaborative team can deal with the ups and downs of life.


Step 8: Learn to deal with the undesirable with equanimity. This I consider the most important and has its roots in Indian Spirituality. Be ready for everything and accept everything that comes on your plate. The good, the bad and the ugly. Its only then can you truly lead and influence your people.

So, are you ready to Lead? 🙂


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