How to improve your leadership skills

How to improve your leadership skills

The best leadership strategies typically encourage initiative, create a common purpose, result in teamwork, and minimize friction. Many trends and fads exist in the search for leadership strategies, as this usually is a complex subject. There is no specific method that will produce the same results each time. In fact, a strategy that is very successful in one situation may have a completely different response in a different setting.

It can be important for a person to always remember that the purpose of leadership is to encourage others to contribute their best efforts toward a common goal, and to remain united in the face of adversity. The definition of good leadership usually varies depending on the culture, local expectations, and environment. This is an important point, as it can become very difficult to judge the success of different leadership strategies in other countries due to this gap in expectations.

The best leadership strategies always encourage initiative and creativity. There is a balance, however, between creativity and the structure of the organization. The initiative must be to help the organization fulfill the mission or goal. Any creativity that does not further the overall goal typically is not supportive of the organization.

Maintaining this control sounds complex, but it mostly is based on clear communication. A leader who can clearly communicate the short- and long-term goals, along with their expectations, typically will have few issues. Given clear boundaries and a mission, most people direct their energy toward furthering the overall organizational goal.

Creating a common purpose is an example of successful leadership strategies. People will come together despite personal differences or disagreements when united. The most common example of this is when people come together in the face of a shared adversity. This same result, however, usually can be achieved with a goal that requires input from everyone and represents a shared value.

The most effective leadership strategies continue to influence behavior when the leader is not present. Teamwork, group projects, and active participation are all signs of effective leadership. The ability for people to work together and meet the overall need is essential in any organization.

In any group of people, there always will be situations of friction and conflict. A strong leadership presence, however, usually provides a clear mission and behavioral guideline that minimizes this type of conflict. When everyone is aware of their responsibility and role in the process, there usually is an overall increase in productivity.

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Discussion Comments

@Mor – A leader often has to work harder, and study longer than the people under him or her in order to get to where they are. They are often involved in organization development as well so what they do affects more people and has more stress attached.

I don’t feel like it’s a bad thing that leaders get paid more. And often being put in a position of power as a reward makes sense, since it’s a reward for being good at what you do, good enough that you can help others to do it more efficiently.

@umbra21 – You don’t want to go the other way and become arrogant though. There’s nothing worse than a leader who thinks too much of himself and isn’t willing to listen to other opinions and weight them fairly.

And I mean that literally since that’s the definition of a dictator.

Leadership communication strategies have to include an open door policy, even if the leader has the final say.

It’s good to have confidence, even essential, but you have to keep sight of the fact that even a leader is still just one facet of the whole team, with a job to do.

I think it’s a shame that often leadership is used as a final reward rather than just treated as a different kind of job to what the other people do. Sure, leaders often have to work harder, but not always and usually not enough to justify the treatment and leeway they get. umbra21 March 27, 2012

Being in charge of other people has always made me nervous. It took a long time to realize that the reason I never seemed to be very good at it was because I didn’t think I was very good at it.

You really have to either have confidence or at least fake that you have confidence in order to make a good leader.

If you are too nervous to tell people what to do or where they should go, then they won’t be willing to listen to you either.

I think developing leadership skills is important, but really when it comes down to it, you have to tell yourself, I’m in charge. Better to possibly get in trouble over doing something wrong than lose control of the situation and definitely get in trouble for doing nothing right.

How to improve your leadership skills

The pandemic has not only brought about changes to the workforce and consumer habit, but also highlighted the need to be even more creative and innovative. In times like this, creativity is even more necessary to push the boundaries and cut through the clutter. However, for organisations to truly succeed, the push needs to start from the top. Over the course of this year, factors such as culture, deeper cross-department collaboration, and developing creative skills will be even more important to elevate a company’s creativity-led leadership. Here are five ways you can get started:

1. Culture is the overarching factor that influences creativity

Only 29% of leaders in Asia Pacific have succeeded in creating a culture that embraces creativity, according to the Adobe Creativity Quotient. However, it is time for leaders to drive a creative culture, even in a hybrid digital analogue work environment as companies start adapting and innovating for the new normal.

As the phrase “working from anywhere” becomes commonplace, Adobe said attention should be paid to recreating or replacing the aspects of culture that require in-person engagement in order to cultivate a culture of openness and collaboration.

2. Data centricity only matters if you have the right data

Although data centricity is key for customer centricity, the Adobe Creativity Quotient said only 36% of leaders effectively use data at the start of every creative process, and almost 20% use data retrospectively to post-rationalise creative approaches. To change this, companies need to prioritise collecting and dissecting the right data for more strategic, meaningful and structured use right from the start. Additionally, Adobe said it is vital that the insights are contextualised by how the pandemic has changed customer behavior.

3. Blurring lines of organisational functions

As companies aim to offer innovative experiences and be more agile with customer experience, deeper cross-department collaboration will become key to business success. As such, it is vital for the C-suite roles to take joint ownership of customer experience, which will allow companies to understand the various aspects of customer journeys.

4. Focus on creative skill development needs to accelerate

In 2021, it is imperative for leaders to foster entrepreneurial skills that can be applied across business functions and roles. Insights from the Adobe Creativity Quotient found that just 25% of Asia Pacific respondents leading the way with driving creative skills needed to navigate transformation and change.

As technology continues to advance, technical skills become less critical. Uniquely human skills such as empathy, critical thinking and problem solving become more important as they play a crucial role in driving the success of an organisation.

5. Leaders need to understand how technology can help augment human skills

The emphasis on business leaders in 2021 will be on the importance of investing in both technology and skills to create engaging, valuable customer experiences that will endure.

Adobe Southeast Asia’s MD Simon Dale said leaders have to understand the power of an integrated customer journey management, which will be a key challenge in the path of digital transformation.

“Aspects such as the ability for organisations to rapidly take data from insight to action will be crucial in a business environment that is certain to be fluid and turbulent over the next year. For leaders, the challenge lies within recognising this power to augment, enhance and empower your teams,” Dale said.

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Advancing within your career will require the development of several skills with one of them being leadership. Most higher-level positions are leadership roles, so knowing how to effectively lead and manage a team is essential when furthering your career. In this article, we explore why leadership skills are important, how to improve your leadership skills and tips to help you become a better leader.

Why are leadership skills important?

Good leadership skills are important for several reasons. No matter what position you're currently in, there are likely opportunities to express your leadership abilities and positively contribute to the overall success of your organization. Even if you don't oversee a team or hold a management position, you can begin working on your leadership skills to be a more productive employee and contribute to the teams you're part of.

Additional reasons why leadership skills are important in the workplace include that they can:

  • Help you maximize your strengths within the workplace, such as knowledge and empathy
  • Support your overall contribution to your team and workplace in general
  • Encourage you to initiate action when action is needed and no one is stepping up to make changes
  • Allow you to provide support and encouragement to others to perform better in their jobs
  • Help you instill confidence and inspiration in your team for a more productive output
  • Allow you to build morale among your employees or team
  • Foster commitment and loyalty to the company
  • Improve the overall work environment by increasing performance and function in the workplace

How to improve leadership skills

There are several ways you can work to improve upon your leadership skills. These include:

1. Incorporate discipline into your everyday life

Discipline is a major component of an effective leader and can work to encourage others to be disciplined as well. As a leader, others will judge your performance based on the discipline you portray at work. You can demonstrate good discipline habits in the workplace by arriving on time to meetings, ending meetings on time, adhering to deadlines and completing all tasks assigned to you in a timely fashion.

You can also practice discipline in your personal life. Oftentimes, one habit will transfer over from our personal lives to our professional lives, and vise versa. Good discipline habits you can implement outside of work include getting daily exercise, waking up early and keeping commitments with friends and family.

2. Find a leadership mentor

There is likely someone in your company who holds a leadership position that you look up to. Consider asking this individual to be your mentor when it comes to developing your leadership skills. Observe how they act in certain situations and how they interact with others as well as the methods they use to complete their daily duties. Try to implement what you see that leader doing in your own work and ask for feedback regularly to ensure you're making progress.

3. Take a leadership course or class

There are several available leadership courses or classes, and many are offered online. Online courses allow you to take the class in your free time and learn more about the essential components of being a good leader. Examples of online leadership courses include the Management and Leadership program offered by Pryor, the Leadership and Management Courses offered by Harvard University, Live Online Personal Leadership Courses by Dale Carnegie Training and Leadership Training Courses and Seminars offered through the American Management Association.

3. Learn your leadership style

There are several different leadership styles with the most common being:

  • Coach
  • Visionary
  • Servant
  • Autocratic
  • Democratic
  • Pacesetter
  • Transformational
  • Transactional
  • Bureaucratic

Understanding your leadership style will help you identify areas in which you can improve upon or expand. You may also find a different leadership style that better suits your personality or the needs of your team.

4. Take on additional responsibilities

If you aren't currently in a leadership position or your current leadership role has limited responsibilities, consider asking to take on more responsibilities within the workplace. Additional responsibility will help you get used to increased demands that often come with upper-level leadership positions. Also, by portraying your commitment to taking on more responsibility, you'll make a positive impression on your employers and will likely be considered for upcoming promotions or leadership roles within your organization.

5. Learn to motivate and empower

Being an effective leader involves having the ability to effectively empower and motivate your team to work towards a common goal. Work on your motivational skills and begin incorporating them into your work life when interacting with your team or other employees. Delegate tasks to give your employees more responsibilities and to show them that you trust in their abilities to take on these responsibilities.

6. Set goals and execute them

A strong leader doesn't just set goals for themselves and their team — they all also ensure these goals are executed. Invest time into planning out your goals and breaking them into smaller tasks that are more manageable for yourself and your employees. Ensure that each employee fully understands their responsibilities and expectations and establish timeframes in which each goal must b meet. Steadily progressing towards goals shows your commitment to leadership and also increases your ability to be an effective leader.

7. Don't be afraid to admit when you've failed

All leaders make mistakes, but it's how they handle those mistakes that set them apart from the competition. Being able to admit you've made a mistake and immediately take action to correct it is a sign of a good leader. Each mistake made is a learning opportunity, so rather than getting upset or trying to hide it, use it as a way to learn how you can avoid the same or a similar mistake in the future.

Tips for improving leadership skills

The following are several examples of tips you can use when increasing your leadership abilities:

  • Get inspired: It's hard to lead others if you aren't motivated and inspired yourself. Determine what inspires you in the workplace and use that to fuel your leadership efforts and encourage others to take action.

How to improve your leadership skills

Many people define the term “leader” differently, but there are several core leadership skills that define a great leader. For example, as a successful leader, there is often a need for transparency. You should also be able to listen without distractions and create an appropriate workplace culture for your team. Even if you are already a good leader, there’s always room for more growth. Whichever areas you’re lacking in, you can focus on improving. Below, we discuss five key areas you should look to focus on to improve your leadership skills.

1. Learn to take initiative

Your team looks up to you for direction and inspiration. Whenever they feel lost, the group naturally expects you to show the way. You can only do this if you’re the kind of person that takes initiative. Learn not to be complacent. You should aim to step out of your comfort zone regularly, as this will help your team trust you.

Remember that taking on more responsibilities also gives you more opportunities to learn. Every project you take on is a chance to boost your knowledge. A leader should be skilled in a variety of areas to be able to share knowledge with their team.

2. Improve your critical thinking

The best leaders can foresee potential issues before they occur by analyzing current conditions. They can also find ways to prevent some of the problems before they emerge. As a leader, you should be the person who identifies opportunities and maximizes these opportunities to benefit the organization.

Luckily there are several approaches you can use to improve your critical thinking skills. These include challenging common assumptions, finding different perspectives, and keeping an open mind. You should encourage your team to discuss and debate any issues that arise to help them grow.

3. Strive to listen better

As a leader, you’ll be communicating regularly with multiple employees from every corner of the organization. Often you’ll also be presenting business strategies and various reports to your team and the higher-ups, including CEOs and investors. To get the right feedback in any of these circumstances, you must be a good listener.

Using open-ended questions, listening without interrupting the speaker, and adapting your listening to the other person’s point of view (with factors such as culture and background in mind) is a good start.

4. Improve your conflict handling skills

Every team in an organization experiences conflict at some point. Indeed, due to the wide range of differences among people, the lack of conflict may signal the absence of effective interaction. The best leaders view conflict as an opportunity to address underlying issues and build stronger relationships between people and groups.
You should aim to be honest and straightforward. It takes a lot of courage, but it’s the first step to dispute resolution. Additionally, learn to listen actively and be impartial in your judgment.

5. Learn to delegate

An often overlooked area of leadership is delegation. This is a crucial leadership skill that many new leaders lack. However, the best leaders don’t attempt to do everything on their own. You must understand that letting someone with better knowledge do the job guarantees better results for the organization. You should also appreciate that a new set of hands and pair of eyes can help your team do the job faster and better.

So how do you delegate? Theodore Roosevelt made it simple. “The best leaders are those who have enough sense to pick the right people to do what they want to be done, and the self-restraint to avoid meddling with them while they do it.”

Other Tips to Improve Your Leadership Skills

There are many other skills imperative to being a successful leader, including discipline, motivation, and team empowerment. The bottom line is that the best leaders are constantly looking to improve their leadership skills. Like we said in the beginning, there’s always room to grow.

Looking for help? Tired and believing there has got to be a better way?

Let’s talk about your business. With over a decade of experience leading companies and transforming lives, and a Master’s degree in Org. Development and Leadership, Mike can help you find the best way forward!

Every organization, regardless of its size or the industry it operates in, needs an effective leader to run successfully. Skills such as analytical thinking, planning, and communication, for example, are crucial when putting teams together. By assessing individual strengths and weaknesses, the senior manager can delegate tasks more effectively and deliver instructions in a clear and precise manner, leading to improved productivity and better results.

This article will examine some of the most important leadership qualities to understand how they can help improve a team’s efficacy. And, if you are inspired to apply for a leadership position yourself after reading this, we have also included four great tips on how you can improve your leadership style. Ready to get that promotion?

Examples of leadership skills and why they are important

Ultimately, your experiences will shape you as a leader, and the specific skills you might need will vary from role to role, depending on your responsibilities. We’d be here for a very long time if we tried to list them all!

According to Indeed, the largest job website in the world, these six leadership skills are a must-have for anyone looking to advance their management career:

1. Decisiveness

Sometimes, business decisions need to be made quickly, but that is not to say they should be impulsive. A good leader will consider all the available data before making an important decision, weighing up the pros and cons of different strategies before deciding which course of action to take. As you settle more into this role, you will find the decision process becomes more instinctive.

The ability to make effective judgment calls is an essential skill for a leader to have, because it helps them deliver their objectives, both personally and through the effectiveness of their teams.

2. Integrity

Integrity doesn’t just mean being truthful, although honesty and transparency are also very important qualities for leaders to have. It means living and working by a set of unwavering values. In a work context, this might lead to the implementation of, for example, corporate social responsibility policies.

It is crucial for leaders to have integrity because it encourages fair and ethical practices and sets a positive example for team members to follow.

3. Team- and relationship-building

To assemble a team, you will need strong interpersonal, communication, and conflict resolution skills. These skills will help you assess which personalities will work well together, convey your expectations, and de-escalate any disagreements between colleagues. As you get to know each other, you will also learn each other’s strengths and weaknesses, making it much easier to allocate tasks to the right team members.

4. Problem-solving

Even the best leaders can’t plan for everything. The mark of a good leader is someone who can respond to change and implement appropriate strategies to tackle unexpected problems. To do this, you will need experience, a cool head, and an analytical mind.

Strong problem-solving skills help leaders make tough decisions, as discussed in point one. Plus, if you can stay focused instead of getting sidetracked when something goes wrong, your team will do the same, and your project will never veer too far from its aims.

5. Dependability

As a leader, your team needs to know that they can rely on you. And when you say you are going to do something, they have to be able to count on you to see that thing through.

Of course, as we have already seen, not everything in business always goes to plan, but a dependable leader is one who is capable of being straightforward and honest with their team. They will communicate any changes to the people they are working with as early as possible and give clear, logical reasons for their decisions.

Being a dependable leader is crucial to getting your staff to trust you and meeting deadlines on time.

6. Ability to teach & mentor

Taking the time to teach and mentor other staff members will really set you apart as a leader. Effective training will aid your colleagues’ professional development and help grow your organization, as employees will be ready to move into more senior positions. In order to deliver training to this standard, you will need to fall back on further leadership skills, including analytical thinking, interpersonal skills, and motivational speaking.

How to develop your leadership skills

You can practice and develop your leadership skills at any level. By showing up for meetings and delivering your work on time, you are demonstrating your dependability. And by behaving in a way that’s consistent with your employer’s values, you are showing them that you have integrity.

However, if you want to develop these skills even further, with the aim of being awarded an official leadership position within the business, here are four things you can do to help prepare yourself:

When you work in the public sector, everything goes back to one thing: People. Whether you’re leading a team, or are part of one, this conversation with Isabel Guerrero, former Vice President of the World Bank, will leave you with practical tips and ideas on how to improve your leadership skills.

(2:48) Isabel’s journey

Isabel was born in Chile but moved to Peru when she was a teenager. It impacted the way she thought about poverty and diversity. She decided Economics would be the most powerful way to contribute to a solution. Isabel joined the World Bank and worked there for 30 years. Listen to some of the challenges she faced and how she pivoted to helping organizations working with the base of the pyramid scale up.

(6:57) Being a woman in a leadership position

Many times, Isabel was the only woman in the room but instead of feeling insecure, she used it to her advantage. She knew people would listen to what she was going to say, so she made sure it was the best. She advises us to be prepared, to be the best. But, we have to own who we are and enjoy being a woman. We also talked about gender balance in teams and the advantages of hiring women.

(13:30) Characteristics of a good leader and how to foster them

One of the roles of a leader is to create a space to take risks and fail, to allow people to show who they are. Creating that space of trust is easier said than done. You need that space to generate innovation and try new things. This space has to be created with accountability and responsibility.

Isabel says that leading a team is like cultivating a garden. You prepare the soil in the best possible way. The team are like the seeds. You take care of them, you help them grow until they become flowers. You do it without knowing the final result.

(17:09) How to have difficult conversations with your team

First, understand that receiving (or giving) positive or negative feedback is not personal. It’s part of the process. All of us need to be willing to accept that there are always parts where we need to improve and having someone help us identify those areas is a gift.

Frequency matters. It has to be a permanent process, not something you only do at the end of the year.

When you need to give bad news make sure to start with the positive, then transition into the negative. Always give concrete examples so it’s easier for the other person to understand what’s happening.

(19:58) How to create the space to innovate in a hierarchical organization

Start by understanding the system and the expectations from you. If you deliver on that, with excellence, several times, you earn that capital to innovate and make mistakes. Then you spend it, build the capital and spend it again.

(21:20) If you have a bad (or a terrible) boss, this is what you can do

Consider having a ‘terrible boss’ as an opportunity to learn. It’s unpleasant and not always easy. But, as long as your boss doesn’t cross any lines in terms of values, you can learn from their mistakes. Listen to how Isabel did it.

(25:45) How to manage conflict and improve coordination among teams

As a leader, you have an additional responsibility on top of delivering results. You also have to focus on relationships. The higher up you are, the more relevant it is. Conflict will come from the corners you expect the least. It often happens when you are only managing results and not relationships.

(30:20) Before you learn to manage your team, you have to learn about yourself

Start by knowing yourself, your own issues. Your ‘shadow’ is the term Isabel used to refer to the things that aren’t great on us, but unfortunately, we don’t always see.

(32:00) About IMAGO and its approach to improving the way organizations work

“Being poor is about not being able to change the world around me”. That was the inspiration to found IMAGO and start the work at the personal level and then with the organization. The process of co-creation starts by working together, not as an expert, but as someone that has the tools to help them do it faster. Respect and value the expertise the poor have about their own environment.

(41:00) Final lessons on implementation in the public sector

  • Get into the details (sounds familiar?) and then simplify, find the easiest way to do this.
  • Identify who will implement the project and how.
  • Don’t make assumptions or take something as given.

Final reflections

I once read that you can be a manager, but your people make you a leader, they choose that, not you. What we can do is to improve our leadership skills. Make sure we’re doing our best to get the best of the people working with us by creating a space of trust. That also means we have to go first, deliver results and open that space.

I believe that learning from others’ experiences is a great way to learn and I hope that this conversation with Isabel gives you some inspiration.


How to improve your leadership skills

Isabel Guerrero worked for 30 years at the World Bank, including five years as Vice-President for the South Asia region, managing a US$36 billion portfolio. In 2014, along with Zachary Green, she co-founded IMAGO Global Grassroots, an organization focused on giving people living in poverty the tools to build their own destiny. In addition to her work with IMAGO, Isabel is on the board of the Presencing Institute at MIT and a Council Member of the United Nations University.

She is an economist from the London School of Economics and a psychoanalyst trained at the Washington Psychoanalytic Society. Isabel teaches “Scaling Up for Development Impact” at Harvard University and was a Senior Lecturer in leadership at MIT until 2017.

Perhaps you’re the boss of a company or someone with an executive position. Maybe you’re a manager. Regardless of your exact title, you’re a leader in the organization for which you work. Lately, however, you’ve noticed that employees don’t seem to be paying as much attention to you as you feel they should. Enthusiasm is lacking, and you’re not quite sure what went wrong or how to boost morale.

Your first thought might be that whatever the issue is, it originates with your employees. However, in most cases, you would be wrong. The problem lies somewhere in how you’re engaging with your employees, even if it’s clear you have a good working relationship with them. To address that problem, you need to know how to develop leadership skills.

Real leaders don’t make excuses. Instead, they get to work focusing on overcoming their shortcomings. With that in mind, the steps outlined below are for you if you’ve been wondering how to improve leadership skills. We’ll start by discussing leadership styles.

How to improve your leadership skills

Leadership styles play a role

No two leaders are alike. However, certain leadership styles are common. Work toward leadership perfection by gaining a complete understanding of which leadership style works best for you based on past experiences, the goals you have for your future, and the overall objectives of the organization you serve.

For instance, you could act as an inspiring democratic leader that gets your team to express themselves, share their progressive ideas, and then accomplish goals where they gave equal input at all levels. Another kind of leadership role is that of a coach or mentor. Maybe you could improve your leadership abilities simply by getting to know the people on your team and displaying a genuine, heartfelt interest in them as human beings.

Read a lot

Whether you are a new leader or not, there isn’t much that can take the place of continual learning. By taking advantage of the experience and wisdom of proven leaders who shared their teachings through books (or online courses), you can improve your leadership skillset by putting their advice into practice.

It’s recommended that you make a reading list, which begins with broad concepts and provides a lot of foundational theory. Move on from there and get materials on what’s working now with modern, up-to-date ideas and strategies. Finally, narrow down to leadership tactics, such as ways to get your team to work more efficiently and effectively together.

Join a training program

Of course, we just mentioned online courses, but we’ll reiterate that here. Besides ensuring that you have lots of reading material that you never stop consuming, you might want to join a formal training program. First of all, it’s more interactive than reading a book, and you’ll have the opportunity to speak one-on-one with experts while practicing some of what you learn with peers.

You should ask your employer about any leadership training opportunities offered by your company. You can also seek out professional events and community seminars, all of which are designed to help you become the leader you desire to be.

Ask for more responsibility

Some people learn better by doing. If that’s you, then consider asking those higher up on the corporate ladder for opportunities to practice your leadership skills. For instance, you might ask for more responsibility within your current position so that you can practice and demonstrate your capabilities.

With that said, be cautious and a bit circumspect. You don’t want to ask for more responsibility than you can realistically handle. It’s vital that you know yourself and what you can truly accomplish. It’s never a good idea to brashly ask for more responsibility and then crumble under pressure.

Partner with a mentor

Finding and working with a mentor can be one of the smartest things you do. By doing so, you’ll be able to gain personalized advice and guidance. By learning how to develop leadership skills through the aid of a qualified mentor, you could become a better leader in a fraction of the time it would take you on your own.

It’s possible that you could find a mentor within your own company. Alternatively, you may wish to explore professional organizations. Speak with your supervisor or a higher-level executive and see if that individual would be willing to make an introduction.

How to improve your leadership skills

Discover your higher purpose

This is similar in nature to learning your “reason why.” Why do you want to be a leader in the first place? If you’re in it because you simply like how it feels to have others obeying your orders, then you’re in it for the power trip, and you probably shouldn’t hold the position you’ve got. On the other hand, there are a variety of legitimate reasons as to why you might want to be a leader.

Striving toward some higher goal and bringing others along with you through inspiration and encouragement, now that’s a legitimate reason for wanting to lead. Along the way, perks like higher pay and more prestige may come. If they do, and you’re pursuing a higher purpose, maybe you’ll deserve them.

Becoming a successful leader is often a lifelong pursuit driven by a mixture of experience, education and self-learning – not to mention a pinch of hard work and a dash of ingenuity. How do you begin the process? Honing your leadership skills through self-guided and practical learning, in addition to your formal education, can make a big difference over time.

Below, we’ve listed some great ways to work on your leadership skills at work, during school and even at home as you strive to become a stronger leader:

1. Learn Directly From Leaders with Top-Rated Books

Call us old fashioned, but there is no better way to understand the practical applications of leadership skills than going directly to the source. Full-length books provide a unique opportunity to take a deep dive into complex ideas, read real-life stories straight from current leaders and learn ways to apply solutions to issues that affect your life.

Below are some highly-rated books that many professionals have leveraged to continue their journeys toward improved leadership skills at work:

  • Power Upby Magdalena Yesil highlights her experience as an early investor in Salesforce and an immigrant in Silicon Valley, while exploring how to handle and overcome the challenges of entering the technology space as a woman.
  • The Innovator’s Dilemma by Clayton M. Christensen discusses how successful companies can fail, even when they do everything right. It highlights why companies need to abandon traditional business operations in favor of “disruptive” innovation to maintain market leadership.
  • How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie is a self-help book filled with advice on how to maximize your potential.
  • The Art of Innovation by Tom Kelley explores how one company, design firm IDEO in Silicon Valley, fosters innovation, prioritizes culture and stays ahead of the game.
  • The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz is, at its core, about building and running a startup and provides tips for tackling tough business problems.

2. Follow Leadership-Focused Social Media Accounts

It’s 2020, and reading books is certainly not the only way to hear directly from other leaders. Celebrities, CEOs and successful startup founders share their obstacles, guiding principles, lessons and success stories online. These individuals are regularly providing actionable insights that you can apply to your work and life – and at no cost to you.

Modern tools like social media allow you to derive inspiration, insights and tips from people in the roles you aspire to. Following the accounts of prominent business leaders can help you better understand complex topics on a regular basis. In fact, science shows that leaders learn best from other leaders.

We’ve listed some of our favorite leadership-focused social media personalities below:

    : As the CEO of Walmart, Doug is ranked as the most connected leader by Brunswick Group. Find him on Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram. : Adena is the CEO of Nasdaq and is an avid Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram user. : Ed is the CEO of Delta Air Lines and has a strong LinkedIn and Instagram presence. : As the CEO of Duke Energy, Lynn is highly connected on LinkedIn. : Mary is the CEO of General Motors and is known for her engaging use of Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Following local leaders within your industry can be highly beneficial too – but be sure to brush up on your online networking know-how before you get started.

3. Tune-in to Some of the Best Leadership Podcasts

Podcasts are episodic audio files that provide a convenient and enjoyable way to learn self-development skills from business leaders. You can enjoy podcasts during your commute or downtime at the office. Some of the best leadership podcasts include:

    : Get advice on tactics, tools and routines used by successful investors, business professionals, athletes and more. : Focus on personal development, mental toughness and self-mastery. : Explore topics to help you be the best version of yourself in business and your personal life. : Hear Baron discuss business topics with top leaders and CEOs. Prepare to become a better leader with principles, tips and stories aimed to help you inspire trust, passion and action. : Gain real world advice through interviews with leadership experts and top executives.

Always accessible, typically free and often more engaging than other mediums, podcasts offer a number of benefits to busy professional looking to grow their business knowledge. Did we miss any of your favorite podcasts? Tweet us @devryuniv!

4. Join Community Self-Development Groups

Meeting with like-minded professionals who share an interest in personal and professional development can not only help motivate you, but it can also help you develop new perspectives. Understanding the positions and views of others is key to leadership, so this is a critical step toward honing your abilities.

An additional benefit of finding a community group, local not-for-profit organization or low-cost club is the access you can get to regular meeting spaces and opportunities. These allow you to practice useful business skills such as public speaking, writing, negotiation and interviewing.

To get you started on the right path, we’ve listed a handful of business development groups that can help you improve soft business skills like communication, organization and networking:

    : An organization focused on the improvement of communication and leadership skills. : A non-profit community for students with entrepreneurial aspirations geared toward helping others. : An organization that helps students build both networking and business skills.

Final Thoughts: Why Is Leadership Important in Business?

Being a good leader is more than just taking charge. From driving strategy and effectively communicating business goals to motivating teams and building colleague engagement, a strong leader brings a lot to the table.

In addition to their educational background and work experience, a good leader understands that they must develop their professional skills habitually over the course of their career. And with a little practice, a foundation of learning and consistent dedication, you can help yourself build the leadership skills you need to achieve your goals, too.

Products and resources within this article are included as suggestions and linked for your convenience. DeVry University and our Keller Graduate School of Management are not affiliated with these products/companies/individuals, nor do we make any type of profit should you choose to purchase.