How To Become A Leader: In Your Career, In Your Field, And In Your Life

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Some are born leaders; it is in their bones. They lead their fellow children into play and take them on wild adventures as children. As they grow, that natural ability just flourishes. They know how to talk to others, how to inspire them, and how to handle project management.

For some, it is easy.

For others, it can seem like the most impossible thing in the world.

Then, there are the people in-between.

The fact is in the business world even natural-born leaders need to invest the time and energy into perfecting their skills. There is always room for improvement, which means even if you couldn’t imagine leading a team you can learn everything you need, from the soft and hard skills.

Confidence is the secret ingredient, but what backs confidence is knowing what you are talking about. You can reach the top of your career and feel like you have that confidence, but it is incomplete. A top-level engineer may know the ins and outs of everything but put that engineer in a managerial role and they falter. They know what they need to about engineering, but not yet about management.

Building on those leadership skills can be done in many ways, and the best part is that they are customizable. You can go on to use them in a manager role, or you can take these skills and apply them to your industry as a whole or even to your personal life. It is far from impossible – it just takes hard work.

Soft Skills Leaders Need to Have

There are multiple soft skills that all great leaders have, and use innately.

Emotional Intelligence

Being emotionally intelligent is one of the most transferable skills you can have. It is useful in leadership positions, all the way to your personal life. It means you can understand and empathize with others. Being able to determine how they feel and understand why, with very little information, will help you provide the best leadership.

Verbal and Non-verbal Communication

This applies to both others, and how you conduct yourself. If the words you say and your actions or behaviour don’t match up, then you have a mixed message. Mixed messages hurt your business in the long run, and it takes a lot of practice to align your verbal and non-verbal messages.

It is also important to be able to read mixed messages in others. Combined with emotional intelligence, these skills will help you better understand and help those working under you be the best that they can be.

Flexibility and Being Able to Deal with Ambiguity

For jobs that are pragmatic and fixed, like engineering, being flexible and dealing with ambiguity is not often in the job description. You need to be able to roll with the punches and make split-second decisions.

Listening and Communication

Being able to really listen in such a way that encourages the person you are talking to is a very good skill. Of course, a good conversation is a two-way street. You need to be able to listen and communicate effectively to share and provide ideas. This is how to improve collaboration.

Conflict Resolution

There will be problems, both from within and without your business. Dealing with these conflicts requires a level head and good negotiation skills. If you panic or work through your emotions you won’t see the clearest, best way to handle the situation.

Negotiation

Negotiation is a key skill in conflict resolution, but as a whole, it is a very important soft skill to have. It will help you progress your career. It will help you negotiate for better pay or new opportunities. Even on a personal level negotiation skills can help you solve conflicts at home, or help you reduce the price at a market.

Self-Reflection

A good leader knows they are not perfect. They know that others may have better ideas than them. They know they can always, always improve. You will make mistakes – you are only human, after all – but assessing the mistake and learning from it is how you differentiate yourself as a great leader.

Hard Skills Leaders Need to Have

On top of soft skills, leaders in business need to know how to run and manage a business. Though not necessarily essential, depending on how you want to take your career forward, these hard skills can and will help practically every choice you make for yourself.

Finance

In your career, and even in your personal life, being able to handle finances, budgets, and taxes is a very, very important skill. As a business leader you will be expected to improve profit margins, and to do that you need to understand how the numbers work.

Business Management

Business management applies to both how you handle employees and lead projects, as well as how you improve the business as a whole. If you start your own business, you will need to know the ins and outs of running a business to be a smart leader.

Human Resources

How to hire the right people, how to inspire and lead them, and even how to help them improve themselves; all of these are hard skills that you will learn in an MBA. No successful business is run entirely on its own. You need the right people beside you.

Additional Hard Skills

There are so many other additional skills and know-how you can invest in, but it depends on what you want to do with your career. Just as you could learn the top three from an MBA, you can customize your degree with additional certifications in topics like Global Leadership, Operations Management, Healthcare Management, or even Supply Chain and Enterprise Resource Planning.

These hard skills are best taught through an MBA, especially as you can work and study at the same time. Learn, and immediately put those new skills and knowledge to the test. You will then be able to get customized help from the top faculty in their field and really make a difference for your career and future.

How to Become a Leader

Becoming a leader will require you to use official tools and to forge your way forward using a variety of means.

1.    Earn a Specialized MBA

The best way to learn the skills that will help you become a great leader and businessperson is with an MBA. MBAs are designed for those either already in management, or those who have reached the top of their career in a different field, like engineering, and are looking for a way into higher-level roles. You may even want to start your own business.

There are so many things an MBA can do for you, and you can learn more about them by clicking here. By choosing an MBA that is 100% online, and can be completed at your own pace, you can accommodate a degree and your career, and as a result, bolster both.

2.    Practice Makes Perfect

Learn and use the skills form your MBA directly at work the very next day. You will then have real-world questions you can get tangible, actionable advice from the faculty. It is the perfect way to translate your skill and prowess in your current career towards leadership.

3.    Becoming a Thought Leader

There is nothing stopping you from working towards being a thought leader. You can start now, even before you apply for your MBA. Being a thought leader is different, but it can provide huge benefits for your career and personal life.

Start a blog, newsletter, write for industry publications, or even publish a book in your field. You can guest speak at events and at conferences, or become a guest lecturer at a university. There are so many ways to set your ideas and theories out there that will position yourself in your industry as a thought leader.

4.    Becoming a Policy Maker

Owning your own business, being an executive-level leader, or being a thought leader are all qualifications that policymakers look to. You could influence how the world changes, and work to make your industry better than before. This could be directly, or indirectly, but as a leader, your voice will be heard.

5.    Leveraging Your Network

You will meet people through your efforts. Alumni from your MBA, publishers from your efforts at becoming a thought leader, and even policymakers if you have the standing and connections to get a hold of them. Use these people to help you achieve your goals, especially if you want to create your own future.

6.    Creating Your Own Future

If your options don’t agree with you, then forge your own way ahead. The best and most influential leaders in the world have completely disrupted the industries that they began in. You don’t have to follow the path of least resistance. You can find your own way ahead and become a leader in every sense of the world. Just stay true to your goals and what you want out of your career. Do that, and everything else will fall into place.

Colin Powell – ‘It Worked For Me: In Life And Leadership’ – 13 Powerful Lessons

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