Good leadership is the most crucial component of any successful social, cultural, or professional community. Through a combination of know-how, people skills, and personal responsibility, leaders have the power to transform ideas into reality.
When leadership opportunities arise in your office, your club, your school, or even your friend group, you should consider taking them if you want to develop valuable skills that will open future doors. Leaders learn how to inspire, how to instill confidence in others, and how to build trust. Their time management, organization, public speaking, and problem-solving abilities start to become second nature.
No matter what your path in life may be, this kind of personal growth is sure to benefit you. Leadership skills demonstrate to the people around you that you’re a capable, driven, and teamwork-oriented individual. Legendary football coach Vince Lombardi once said, “Leaders are made, they are not born.” With that in mind, check out these simple tips to get you started on your leadership journey.
1. Listen with empathy
It’s one thing to listen to somebody’s problems, but it takes an in-touch leader to really step in that other person’s shoes and experience their concerns for yourself. When someone comes to you with an issue in a community setting, they probably aren’t looking just to vent. They’re seeking out your guidance and an actionable response.
Empathy is an internal process, but there are helpful things you can do to demonstrate it externally. When you’re in conversation with someone who’s experiencing a problem, say things like “That makes sense” and “I see where you’re coming from.”
If you don’t have a solution right away, giving a boilerplate response such as “Let’s circle back” can feel like a dismissal. Instead, be proactive and specific. Try something along the lines of, “I appreciate your concern and I’ll have an answer for you by the end of the day.”
2. Encourage feedback
Everyone’s familiar with the stereotype of a self-obsessed leader who stubbornly refuses to take advice from others, from King Joffrey to King Lear. Pride may be the single greatest obstacle in the way of great leadership.
You can avoid this pitfall by being humble and accountable in your approach to leadership. Remember that your leadership position doesn’t make you infallible or omniscient. Not only is it wise to take advantage of other people’s perspectives in your decision-making, but doing so empowers your team members and makes them feel more fulfilled in their roles.
No matter what kind of organization you’re leading, an “open door policy” is a good idea. Make yourself available for high-level meetings, simple check-ins, and feedback. Listening to feedback is only half of the equation. The other half is being accountable to that feedback. That means truly absorbing your team’s thoughts and incorporating them into future plans.
3. Research leadership styles
There are some tried-and-true tactics for basic leadership skills, but beyond that, there are many different approaches that great leaders throughout history have employed for specific situations.
Luckily, lots of those leaders have imparted their wisdom through written works. You can pick up a How-To guide from some of the most important leaders ever to sit in the big chair, from Sun Tzu to Bill Gates to Meetup CEO David Siegel!
Here are just a few leadership styles you can dive into:
- Delegating — These leaders know how to find the right people for each task, and how to organize an efficient team-based response to any problem.
- Coaching — These are experts in their field who lead by example. They empower the next generation and impart their wisdom from years of experience.
- Visionary — A visionary leader is an “ideas person,” focused on the big picture and innovation. They inspire their team to reach new heights.
4. Start practicing leadership today
In a recent Forbes article about building inclusive leadership skills and increasing your cultural awareness, Meetup was listed as one of the best resources available. Starting a Meetup group is easy, and you don’t need to be an expert to lead one. Just follow your interests and give it a shot! Remember, there are plenty of ways to lead that aren’t job-related. If you’re looking for a break from work, check out these fun group ideas that will help you practice leading while making friends.
If you want to hit the ground running with an established community, you can join somebody else’s Meetup group and ask them about opportunities to become a co-organizer. You can even step up to lead a Meetup group that may be closing.
Last modified on May 24, 2022