Building Your Leadership Potential

Effective leadership is a vital component of success. Great leaders can inspire action, provide motivation, and give feedback to increase future performance. Are you a leader? While not everyone is a natural-born leader, there are steps you can take to improve your leadership skills and make a mark in the workplace.

What is a Leader?

A leader has a dynamic role that involves establishing goals, providing direction, organizing team members, and inspiring commitment to the group. Developing leadership skills can further your career, making you a hot commodity among employers who value effective leaders. While there has been considerable debate about the definition of leadership, most characterize leadership as the ability to guide other people towards a common goal.

So, are you a leader? Only you can answer this question. We have all known people who mistake bossiness and bullying for leadership. True leadership requires a set of skills that encourage respect from others and a willingness to follow. Consider whether or not the following leadership characteristics describe you:

• Strong interpersonal skills.
• The ability to balance conflicting responsibilities.
• Adaptable to change.
• The ability to delegate tasks.
• A willingness to listen.

Can Leaders Be Made?

One of the most enduring questions about leadership is whether great leaders are born or made. Certain theories of leadership propose that inherited personality and behavioural characteristics are what make great leaders. Of course, not all people with those qualities become great leaders.

While some talents and abilities are strongly related to personality, other skills can be learned. You might have to work harder in some areas that seem to come naturally to others, but you can still strengthen and grow these areas. Excellent leaders are able to combine both their natural talent and acquired skills to provide the best leadership possible.

Build Your Leadership Skills

While you may have a potential to be a leader, you will never fully grow if you don’t develop and hone your leadership skills. The first step in building your leadership skills is to identify areas where you excel and then build on these strengths. If you are an excellent mediator, utilize these abilities whenever they may be applicable, such as during a disagreement over a major decision. Continue to develop your natural talents through experience or specialized training. Take a class in public speaking to build your communication skills or sign up for leadership seminars.

Identify areas where you are weakest. Do you have a difficult time asserting authority? Do you tend to take on too many tasks yourself without asking for help? Think about why these situations are difficult for you and come up with a plan to overcome them. Setting goals and taking steps toward becoming a better leader is the best way to prepare you for a future leadership role. Are you a leader? Only you can answer that question, but assessing your natural talents, skills, and needed training can help you develop your leadership potential.