Leadership is a quality that is needed not just in business but in many areas of human activity. When we hear the term “leader” or “leadership”, we often assume that it describes the role of managing a team of people or an entire organisation. But this isn’t necessarily so.
While being a leader usually means having a team to lead toward achieving goals, an individual without a team can still be a leader. For one, this could mean applying leadership skills to manage and achieve your day-to-day tasks more effectively. An individual can also demonstrate leadership qualities by acquiring knowledge and expertise that makes them a leader in their field of work.
Leadership skills include negotiation, communication and interpersonal skills, social influence, and the ability to provide motivation and feedback. These skills can be applied in different ways and different combinations to various job and tasks, but collectively they help to drive growth in an organisation and in the individual’s career.
Leadership skills are among the most sought-after soft skills, mainly because of the flexibility with which they can be applied in every job, including non-leadership roles. An individual who possesses leadership skills can create impactful results, and here are just some examples.
First, communicating and negotiating to ensure that goals are achieved effectively. One of the many things great leaders must be able to do is communicate with their team about upcoming tasks. In the same way, individuals can use this skill to communicate with their colleagues or other teams about projects they’re working on, and what is expected to accomplish the goals.
Second, increasing personal productivity and achieving goals effectively. This can be approached in different ways, one of which is through delegation and motivation. Leaders often delegate work to their team members and motivate them to accomplish goals. In the same manner, individuals can motivate their teammates and ask them for help.
Third, building a bigger network and list of connections. You don’t need to be a leader to be able to influence people and make great connections. Building the confidence of a leader can be the first starting point to displaying strong leadership behaviour.
Finally, leaders create the right impact. In whichever role we play in the organisation, we are judged by results and impact as we build up our careers. One thing that great leaders must be able to do is to see the bigger picture, plan a strategy and communicate it to their teams for execution.
As an individual, seeing the bigger picture will allow you to understand business goals, plan your work accordingly and execute the necessary steps. Not only will you be creating the impact you need, you also learn along the way.
Now that we’ve covered how to use leadership skills as an individual contributor, how do we begin? Here are some steps you can take.
First, become self-aware of your strengths and weaknesses. Before we can even begin developing the leadership skills we want, we need to understand what we’re already good at and the things we need to work on.
Second, list the leadership skills you want to build on. Leadership skills aren’t necessarily a fixed list. They can vary depending on the type of work you do and the goals you have. Depending on what you want to achieve, prioritise the skills you want to develop.
Third, apply “upskilling” where necessary. There are some leadership skills you might already have but this doesn’t mean you can’t strengthen them further. When it comes to things we already know, we often take them for granted or leave them aside. Because of this, we don’t practise as often as we should or update our knowledge. Even with soft skills, there are always new tactics and ways of working.
Finally, be open to new possibilities (and responsibilities) and learn along the way. Mistakes and failure will always be a part of any success story. We might not always achieve our goals but it doesn’t mean we can’t continue to work on them and become a leader.
If we succeed in our learning goals, that can also mean more responsibilities to deal with. These are things that we need to keep in mind to avoid overwhelming ourselves.
All in all, leadership skills aren’t just for leaders; they are for everyone who wants to lead their lives and careers in the direction they desire. But to achieve our life and career goals, it is important to remember the importance of taking the learning journey toward a better version of ourselves.