There are different schools of thought around leadership: is it a natural characteristic that you either have or don’t, or is leadership a set of skills that can be learnt?
Leadership skills can be learnt
Whatever your starting point I’m a believer that ‘leadership’ is a set of skills that can be learned. Like the learning of all skills, practice is the key … oh, yes, practice and feedback.
For example, if you’re practicing your golf swing or tennis serve you can easily observe the results. When you hit the ball, you can see the effect you had and can make adjustments.
Of course when leading teams within your business, the inclusion of ‘other people’ can make ‘leadership’ a bit more complicated. This is because ‘people’ can confuse the observable feedback that you get. For example – when you give directions and they’re not followed, was it your directions that were ‘at fault’ or did other priorities distract the receiver from following your directions? Although it’s simplistic, whether you blame yourself or the other person will influence how you adapt and grow your skills.
Business growth means skills growth
To grow your business you will need to grow your skills. At a fundamental level, with more people (on your team) you will have to become a better communicator – or at least hire the right people who can ‘translate’ your ideas into actions / directions for others.
In addition to leading teams, managing projects and leading teams, I’ve been coaching leaders for over 10 years. Leadership coaching can be complex when it takes into account your business, the business context, the dynamics of the team that you lead, your client base and their idiosyncrasies … and that’s just for starters! You might describe leaders as having charisma, presence, gravitas, influence (which are all skills that can be learned). Then you have to understand the metrics of your business – which levers you can pull and what effect it’s likely to have. How do you increase the ‘conversion rate’ from inquiry to sale? How do you motivate others (or at least provide a supportive environment with appropriate feedback), how do you enable individuals and the team to be “highly productive” providing them support without getting in their way?
I’ve found that paring things back to some fundamentals can demystify what can sometimes be seen as “the black box” of leadership!
Our thoughts affect our words and actions
If your thoughts are limiting, they will constrict your (professional and) business growth. If you don’t think you will succeed – then guess what … you probably won’t, as your unconsious mind will be looking out for all possible ways to fail (that’s the information you’ve primed it with!)
We communicate through our words
Others can only follow our directions if they understand what we’re asking. You can develop your skills in communication. This can be a bit controversial as most of us think we have a good grasp of language, and can communicate …
As leaders, other people, especially our teams look at you for leadership, and unwittingly copy (or model) you. What leadership signals are you giving out? Are you upbeat or low energy? Are you focused on the metrics that are important to growing your business – if you are – they will start to prioritise these aspects too.