You may be wondering how to get to the next level without any experience managing and leading a team. Alternatively, you may already be a supervisor and have the desire to enhance your resume or skills. You may even be wondering how you can grow as a leader and keep up with the changes in today’s world. Whatever your reason, it can seem daunting to think about the time, research, and extra effort it would take to accomplish any of this. However, the following suggestions are some attainable things you can do in the short term that will not take much time and may even be fun!
1. Take the lead on a project
No matter where you work, one thing is certain – there is always more work. Keep your eyes peeled! The perfect project will not always be handed to you. Find a project, pitch it, and offer to take the lead. This will give you the chance to show that you are willing and capable of taking initiative and seeing a project through to success. This may or may not involve managing people, but you will likely have to communicate effectively with others, delegate tasks, and make decisions, all of which are among the top skills hiring managers look for.
If you cannot find a special project or experience at work, volunteering can serve just as well to help build leadership skills. You could join the leadership board of a charity or nonprofit or help to plan events and projects, such as developing younger leaders as a Girl Scout troop advisor. Even if it seems small, it can be good leadership experience and very rewarding as a bonus.
3. Just Start
Sometimes, “becoming a leader” simply means taking action and initiating something you have been thinking about doing. Start a weekend sports team, a business, a blog, a charity drive, or other project or event. Take one of the tips from today and run with it! Even if your first attempt is not a huge success, you will learn lessons about leadership you would never gain in a classroom as well as demonstrate your drive to your employer.
4. Be a Lifelong Learner
Continued learning and professional development are always valued in an employee. It shows commitment, focus, and motivation. That does not mean you have to spend 2 to 3 years obtaining a master’s degree or enroll in a traditional academic program. With all the options for virtual courses, programs, and trainings available now, it is more attainable than ever to add a certification, certificate, or even just some coursework to your repertoire – some of which are free like those offered through edX!
5. Discover Yourself
To be an effective leader, you must understand your motivations, strengths, and weaknesses. Great leaders connect with their team by facilitating open communication, encouraging employee growth and development, and giving and receiving feedback.
To learn more about yourself, here are a few assessments to try:
As a tip, when you take these tests, put yourself in the mindset of what you are hoping to learn more about. For example, if you are taking an assessment to help build your leadership skills, put yourself mentally, if not physically, at your office. You can get different answers when sitting at your kitchen table.
With the reassurance that growing your leadership skills can be simple and even enjoyable, you may be willing to try something today and discover where it can take you. If you would like to learn more about leadership, including these particular suggestions, I highly recommend listening to a webinar recently created and presented by academic coach Joanna Williams. Lastly, here is a quote from Marcus Buckingham that is a great reminder of why it is important to stick with the process of enhancing leadership skills: “People leave managers, not companies.”