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How Managers Can Develop Leadership Skills

by Sam Ashe-Edmunds

Leadership is a subjective concept, but is a must-have quality for successful managers. Learning to get the most out of subordinates requires a combination of objective business skills and subjective interpersonal traits. Using a variety of sources, you can develop the core competencies that help you become a strong leader.

Leadership

Being a leader means convincing others to follow you. This can involve getting others to buy into your plans, understand and agree with your interpretation of your company’s goals or believe that doing what you say will benefit them personally. General leadership traits include the ability to convince, educate, persuade, motivate and respect. The most successful leaders don’t just tell subordinates what to do -- they tell them why they must do something and convince them it’s in their best interests as well.

Improve Your Ability to Communicate

You might be the most knowledgeable person in the room, but if you can’t get your ideas, concepts and instructions across to your staff, you can’t successfully lead. Write a list of the ways in which you communicate and rank them in order of your strengths and weaknesses. Make plans to improve your writing skills, ability to give talks or lectures, body language, eye contact and voice modulation when speaking one-on-one, listening skills and ability to organize important information when writing. Give copies of emails, reports and proposals you’ve written to a professional communicator and ask for feedback. Ask your staff if they have any problems with the way you give instructions. Purchase self-help books on effective business communications, attend writing workshops or join groups that teach public speaking.

Work on Time Management Skills

The more time you have for yourself, the more time you can spend working with your subordinates. A leader who doesn’t have adequate time for her staff can frustrate subordinates who then produce inferior work. In addition to managing your own time better, it’s critical that you give subordinates realistic deadlines, monitor them and be able to adapt to time problems. Projects or tasks must include final delivery deadlines and pre-deadline update reports. This latter technique will help you address potential problems before they are too late to correct.

Learn Problem Solving

Just because you’re the top dog in your area doesn’t mean you know everything. Great leaders aren’t effective because they know it all and simply give instructions to subordinates. Getting the best from your staff means soliciting their advice to glean new ideas. Present projects as problems that need to be solved, asking your staff for their suggestions before you develop and deliver your final action plan. This Socratic method of working with teams will help you maximize productivity among your staff. Group problem solving also leads to strong team building as you reduce micromanagement, let subordinates contribute, feel valued and build self esteem. Look for Internet articles, books or workshops that help you learn problem-solving skills, including how to ask open-ended questions, hold team meetings and set performance and outcome goals.

About the Author

Sam Ashe-Edmunds has been writing and lecturing for decades. He has worked in the corporate and nonprofit arenas as a C-Suite executive, serving on several nonprofit boards. He is an internationally traveled sport science writer and lecturer. He has been published in print publications such as Entrepreneur, Tennis, SI for Kids, Chicago Tribune, Sacramento Bee, and on websites such Smart-Healthy-Living.net, SmartyCents and Youthletic. Edmunds has a bachelor's degree in journalism.

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