There are people who, perhaps, are “born leaders,” but that doesn’t make them great leaders, nor does it leave everyone else out of the game. While personality can go a long way, anyone with the determination to learn leadership skills can have great success, and in turn, pass those skills off to a new group of eager learners.
Qualities of great leaders include:
- Thirst for lifelong learning
- High level of integrity
- Ability to delegate
The Center of Creative Leadership adds great communication skills into their list of ten leadership traits. Being able to coach someone, inspire them, and create a level of trust relies greatly on a leader’s ability to communicate and listen effectively. (Check out our Active Listening blog next.)
Once you become a leader, it’s time to teach the skills you’ve honed (or are always honing, to be more honest) to other people in your realm—at work, in community organizations, on sports teams, etc.
Lead the Way
In a business sense, having a company full of people with leadership abilities is amazing! That’s where innovation and problem solving come to life. Having employees who “think like an owner” creates positive customer experiences. Employees who aren’t micromanaged feel more respected and are more engaged with company goals. As long as egos stay in check, leaders at every level can serve a business well.
Famed motivational speaker and author, Tony Robbins, says teaching leadership includes instilling both hard and soft skill sets. The goal is to help amplify strengths and improve weaknesses. He writes about seven strategies to teach leadership, including:
- Earning trust – People won’t come to you in the first place if they don’t trust you’ll listen, show respect and give guidance rather than dictates.
- Challenging employees – Hand out new projects with opportunities to succeed or fail. You’ll see who rises to the challenge, learns from mistakes, and comes back for more.
- Building an open culture – Create a culture that encourages questions and communication, not one where people fear speaking up will end in embarrassment or retribution.
Obviously, leading by example is critical too. Display your best leadership abilities, and if you falter, call it out or apologize if needed. Everyone makes mistakes. Owning those mistakes and learning from them are hallmarks of great leaders!
The World Is Our Best Teacher
Encouraging employees (or students or your kids) to get out in the community is a great way for them to learn leadership skills outside of work, school, or home. Indeed says volunteering teaches a core tenant of leadership: helping people. Whether they’re assisting at a homeless shelter, coaching a youth soccer club, or participating in scouts or a church group, people who volunteer are learning compassion and kindness. Those are two more traits of great leaders.
Another way to use the community as a resource is to have your leadership mentee pick a leader they really admire and study that person. It can be someone famous or not. Have your “student” list out why this person is a good leader and apply some of those traits to their own situation. Are there traits they’d change or improve? How can they use one new leadership trait that day?
Follow to Lead
Teaching leadership is an ongoing process. Learning how to be a leader is too. Setting goals, checking in with a mentor, and being persistent in the face of setbacks are all good checkpoints to becoming a leader and teaching the next person in line. Few people become great at anything without consistent effort.
As was stated earlier in this blog, good leaders are always honing their skills. One way to do that is to step back and become a follower every so often. Forbes published an article online on “followership” and the importance for leaders to be followers too—as challenging as it might be. A leader who can follow gains knowledge of other leadership styles, traits, and perspectives. They also see if what they’ve been teaching is working. It’s a great circle of discovery, growth, and measurement!