To quote John Quincy Adams, if your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you’re a leader. Being a leader may seem intimating and overwhelming, but everyone is capable of leading. Get in touch with your inner leader to bring about the change you wish to see in your community. You have the desire to create a better place for those around you, so improve your leadership skills using these following methods.
Create the Opportunity
One aspect of a successful leader is stepping forward to take initiative without any prompting. You’re likely aware of areas where the community needs your help. Create your own opportunity to lead in implementing change. Start by speaking to your local community about your thoughts on improvement. Perhaps you’ve noticed that your local playground has fallen into disrepair. Organize a Saturday playground clean-up. A small project like this can give you the confidence to take on larger projects as you develop your leadership skills.
Know Your Role
Image via Flickr by The Natural Step Canada
After leading your first small project, you probably became aware of areas of leadership in which you excelled and areas where you fell short. Great leaders aren’t great at everything; they understand where their areas of weakness are and they delegate to others who excel in these roles. There’s no “one size fits all” role for leaders, but there are different types of leader roles. Understanding your leader role can help you better understand your strengths. Don’t feel discouraged about your areas of weakness. Take these weaknesses as an opportunity to learn from others who excel in these areas.
Image via Flickr by US Department of Education
Now that you know to take initiative as a leader, you should practice listening effectively. It’s easy to get caught up in all the great ideas that you have about ways to improve aspects of your community, but a great leader listens to everyone’s ideas. When you speak to others in your community, stop what you’re doing and focus solely on what they’re saying. Maintain eye contact and let them know that you understand what they’re saying. Everyone has different communication styles, so don’t hesitate to ask for clarification to ensure that you truly understand their points.
As you start to lead larger projects, you may encounter bumps in the road that delay progress. It’s important to keep everyone in your group motivated and enthusiastic about the project’s goal. If someone makes a mistake, offer constructive criticism in a tactful way. A positive attitude is infectious; maintain an optimistic and enthusiastic approach to difficult situations. Have everyone in your group envision reaching the goal, and focus on how great it’ll feel to accomplish it.
Be a Role Model
All great leaders are role models because they exemplify the qualities that they ask of their followers. This means that if you ask everyone to give it their all, then you’re working just as hard or harder. As you continue to lead in your community, you may find that you want to pursue additional education to further your capacity to lead and be a role model. Social work offers you the ability to empower your community by using practical knowledge to succeed as a leader.
Understand Group Dynamics
Image via Flickr by Gavin Llewellyn
Group dynamics are the interactions between individuals as they work together. As a leader, you’ll need to examine both the individuals and the group as a whole. It relates to understanding everyone’s strengths and weaknesses, while identifying personality types to avoid interpersonal conflicts. Good group dynamics aren’t free of conflict, but having a shared vision as a group will bring everyone back together after disagreement.
A great leader is able to create opportunity, listen effectively, know his or her role, encourage enthusiasm, be a role model and understand group dynamics. If you haven’t mastered every aspect being a leader, take the opportunity to educate yourself and become the best leader possible. What are some other leadership skills that define a really great leader?