Leadership is for everyone: discover essential leadership skills


Thanks for coming back to our high-impact workplace skills series. So far, we’ve taken a closer look at how you can use skills like analytical thinking and motivation and self-awareness to impress employers and move closer to your goals. This week, we’ll explore another desirable skill set: leadership and social influence.

When we think about people with strong leadership skills, certain titles may come to mind: managers, CEOs, presidents, professors, and other designations of expertise. But the truth is that anyone can be a leader, regardless of titles or positioning on an organizational chart.

Simply put, a leader is someone (anyone!) with the ability to encourage, empower, and enable people around them in order to achieve a shared goal.

What makes a good leader?

A good leader is one who moves a team closer to their goals. Beyond that, the traits and characteristics that define good leadership will vary depending on who you ask.

There are several different management styles, like authoritative, democratic, transformational, and collaborative. Perhaps you work best with an authoritative leader who makes decisions and tells you how to execute their plans; or maybe you prefer collaborative leadership, where everyone’s ideas are shared freely and considered equally.

Depending on the work environment, someone can become a good leader by leaning into a singular management style. The best leaders, however, will excel in several management styles and know when to employ each one in order to effectively motivate their team.

How to become a leader

There are four fundamental skills for effective leadership: communication, influence, learning agility, and self-awareness. If you practice these skills, you’ll be more prepared to step into a leadership position next time the opportunity arises.

Communication skills enable you to participate in clear dialogue with others across verbal, written, visual, and non-verbal mediums. As a leader, you may use your communication skills to give directions, share expectations, and actively listen to your teammates—all of which can be important to trust-building.

→ Learn effective communication techniques in the University of Pennsylvania’s Improving Communication Skills course.

Influence is the ability to persuade others as you move toward your shared goals. This skill involves building and managing relationships. When you know your teammates well, you’ll be better equipped to motivate them in ways that encourage your desired outcomes.

→ Learn about social influence in the University of Michigan’s Leading People and Teams Specialization.

Learning agility has to do with the way you seek, acknowledge, and apply new information. Acknowledging your own growth path and striving for continued development can enable you to expand your viewpoint as a leader and consider new perspectives and paths forward.

→ Learn mental agility in the University of Pennsylvania’s Positive Psychology: Resilience Skills course.

Self-awareness and the ability to reflect inward can enable you to show up as the leader you want to be. When you know how to motivate yourself, your biggest strengths, and your areas of weakness, you’re better equipped to navigate stressful situations or unexpected roadblocks.

→ Learn self-awareness in Rice University’s Self Awareness and the Effective Leader course.

Once you feel confident in these guiding principles, identify opportunities to practice being a leader. After all, you may not need a title to become a leader, but you do need people to lead. So, how do you plan to show up?

We’ll leave you to sit with that question. Next week, we’ll close out this series with an issue on empathy. See you then.

The post Leadership is for everyone: discover essential leadership skills appeared first on Coursera Blog.

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