Three Beneficial Leadership Skills You Need To Develop
Are there any qualities or skills that you wish you had? Maybe one of your friends is great at striking up conversation with anyone, but you’re a little more reserved. There are some things you can do to get out of your comfort zone and become more extroverted. When it comes to your career, there are some skills that you can continue to work on and develop as well.
There are two types of skills that people have – “soft” and “hard” skills. Soft skills are a combination of people, social and communication skills, character traits, attitudes, career attributes, social and emotional intelligence. Hard skills, on the other hand, are specific, teachable abilities that can be defined and measured, such as typing, writing, math, reading and the ability to use software programs.
According to an article by Reva Seth for Fast Company, the start of your career is an important time to develop “hard” skills. This can be done through certification courses, pursuing an MBA or even reading up on industry news. As you progress through your career, however, the skills you have become less important and your leadership ability and other soft skills are brought to the forefront.
Seth interviewed successful founders, funders and organizational leaders on their perspective of how people can learn the skills necessary to succeed. Below are three skills that effective leaders need and that young professionals should start developing early on in their careers.
Learn To Turn Off Your Mind
Considering the level of connectivity we have thanks to today’s technology, it is tempting to be available to your clients and colleagues at all hours of the day. However, that is not exactly a healthy work-life balance. According to Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, the founder and chairman of talent marketplace for the Boardlist and board director at Urban Outfitters, TripAdvisor and Ericsson, “Operating at a senior level is highly stressful. Learning to turn off your mind is essential to preventing burnout and having the resilience required to achieve long-term success.” By learning how to unplug early on in your career, you will be able to separate work and your personal life as your daily duties become more stressful.
Ways to unplug include only checking your email during a certain time frame, limiting electronic usage during family time (meals, etc.), and building time in your daily routine for relaxation.
As you progress through your career, the challenges you encounter will change. When first starting out, the first few “fires” you need to put out may feel like the end of the world and be very overwhelming. Once you’ve been working for a few years and look back at the start of your career, these crises will likely seem inconsequential. Cultivating a sense of perspective, according to Seth, isn’t something we are usually taught early on in our careers. Instead, we must be intentional about it and recognize our own limitations as well as those of others, and treat both with empathy. Having perspective on what you, and your team, are dealing with is an important soft skill to develop early on in your career. That way, when eventually placed in a leadership role, you have experience to look back on. According to Rip Gerber, chief marketing and alliance officer at Vlocity, a cloud CRM company, “Perspective is best gained through retrospection. By looking back on how you solved problems or managed people, you are able to observe yourself in action. Successful leaders are retrospective across all facets of their life.”
Practice Having Hard Conversations
There comes a time in our careers when we must have a difficult conversation, whether that is resigning from a role, asking for a raise, or even firing someone. In a leadership role, chances are you will encounter these topics frequently. A soft skill required is that of empathy. By listening and attempting to understand an individual’s concerns or perspective, you can figure out how to best handle the situation. These conversations are not going to be easy right off the bat, so having some practice will go a long way. Senior Product Manager at Google, Laura Holmes, said, “Once you get a few under your belt, it’s easier to have each subsequent conversation because you know it’ll be worth it.”
On the field of play, the team looks to their leader or captain when times get rough. In business, this leader is often a manager of some sort. While the titles and “game” might differ, leaders require a certain set of skills in order to be successful. As is the case with most things, these skills take time to develop, so starting sooner rather than later will prepare you to apply the knowledge when the time requires it.