Leading is no easy feat. Whether in a 9 to 5 management role in an office, or as a proprietor of a small, independent business, there are necessary skills that must be developed for a prosperous career. Considering CEO compensation has grown by 940% since the year 1978, there is plenty of motivation to strive for more. However, success isn’t the only concern; a positive sense of wellbeing also contributes to a stable, long-term career.
However, for any young professional who is beginning a new endeavour, identifying the necessary skills of effective leaders can be just as difficult as fostering these qualities. Luckily, many top skills don’t have to be developed by attending expensive conferences in big cities. In fact, there are dynamic solutions to be found in everyday life that help nurture the leader within.
Necessary Traits in the Office
Forbes recently listed their number one leadership skill as ‘fearless agility’. Games like chess, poker, and sudoku all help develop mental stamina and analytical skills that aid in quick decision-making. In fact, scientific research has shown that poker can stimulate the brain and enhance the mind; while playing chess has been linked to increased efficiency in problem solving for players. Sudoku, on the other hand, benefits the memory, while also stimulating the brain like poker.
These everyday activities can also help develop three more skills noted in the Forbes list: flexibility, learning quickly, and versatility. However, skills such as empathy, selflessness, humility, and listening (also on the list) may seem a bit less applicable. These skills present a divide between ‘Type A’ and ‘Type B’ people; Type A being predisposed to logical mental processes and Type B being more apt to use intuition to gain insight and understanding.
One quick solution for bridging Type A and Type B traits is to study body language to aid in employee interaction. There are ample resources, from books to online courses that can help an individual develop skills like empathy, selflessness, and listening skills. By gaining an awareness of the body, a leader can connect with employees and partners more seamlessly, as well as boost their own image.
Another list of top leadership traits focuses on self-development, which is also a great method for nurturing the trailblazer within. By creating opportunities for themselves, a leader will ‘lead by innovation’. That is, those working with the boss can learn from their example.
Having a positive, ‘can do’ attitude will also go a long way, as workers are more apt to thrive in a positive environment. After all, the American Psychological Association estimated in 2015 that 60 to 80% of workplace accidents were due to stress.
Developing a Sense of Leadership
To be confident enough to lead with the traits listed above, a leader must first analyze themselves to understand their motivations and natural aptitudes. In other words, it’s important to ask the question: what kind of leader do you want to be?
Some individuals are more apt to use a democratic approach, while others may prefer to coach or even command their employees. Then there are leaders who stick to their own vision and let others follow suit at their own pace. There are no right or wrong paths, but each situation calls for a thorough answer.
Learning about the self is crucial if a leader is to thrive, but learning about the self can be an abstract concept that's not easily applicable to the workplace. If a person can identify their own weaknesses and strengths, they’ll be able to explore areas for necessary development.
One easy way for any adult to get back in touch with their inner self is to try the “Yes Challenge”. The “Yes Challenge” has been popularized through social media, and most people associate it with crazy antics. However, the challenge, which requires an individual to agree to any proposal given within a certain time period (within appropriate boundaries), is designed to get people out of their comfort zone. Budding leaders will benefit greatly from small exercises like this, during which new perspectives and insights can be gained about their own natural aptitudes and weaknesses.