What do all successful leaders have in common? They’re on a constant quest for knowledge. Whether through books, workshops, or shadowing peers, it’s an essential leadership trait.
Why is this the case? Because it keeps them up-to-speed on the latest trends and sparks creativity. And, most importantly, it ensures that they can grow into an inspiring and productive leader.
With Gen Z entering the workforce, this is more important than ever. After all, how boomers and millennials were lead are completely different than what Gen Z would expect. One area that you shouldn’t overlook is developing new forms of leadership so that you can connect with this demographic.
Increase your leadership capacity.
“Developing leadership skills is one of the most powerful moves you can make to transform your professional and personal life,” states Team Tony. “It’s an empowering process of harnessing your natural talents to inspire others.” During this journey, you’ll also “become more attuned to your strengths and weaknesses, which creates self-awareness and the ability to relate to others.”
How can you achieve this? By asking yourself the following three questions;
- Do I know what my leadership style is? “Understanding your leadership style opens the door for building managerial skills in harmony with your true nature,” the authors add. “Is your leadership approach democratic, visionary, coaching, affiliative, pacesetting, or commanding?” Knowing “where you fall in these categories, you’re better equipped to develop leadership skills.”
- What are my weak spots? Be honest with yourself here. It’s the most effective way to pinpoint what skills or form of leadership you need to address.
- How can I take action? Now that you’re aware of your strengths and weaknesses, you can take steps to develop leadership skills. For example, if you want to become more of a coach, then you’ll want to focus on areas like becoming more self-aware and how to ask guided questions. And, you also have to practice offering guidance as opposed to micromanaging others.
Get in the trenches.
Do what separates a boss and leader? Bosses believe that they’re above the team. True leaders, however, are a part of the team.
Instead of hiding out in your office or distancing yourself from your team, spend time with them. You can do this by eating lunch with, scheduling one-on-ones, and working next to them. Besides giving you the chance to get to know them better, which you can use to motivate them, you can also learn new forms of leadership from them.
For instance, maybe it’s difficult for you to give up control. That’s understandable as a business owner. But, encouraging ownership is one of the most effective ways to motivate your team.
But, after spending time with a team member, you realize that they possess more of laissez-faire or hands-off style. You can then pick their brain or shadow them to see how you can delegate more effectively, promote a more autonomous work environment, and how to let go of control.
Embrace 360-degree feedback.
A 360-degree feedback approach is when leaders use a full circle of viewpoints to evaluate their performance. Examples include feedback from subordinates, colleagues, customers, and their own self-assessment. When done correctly, this can increase self-awareness, clarify behavior, and encourages personal development.
The biggest hurdle to jump is being willing to listen to negative feedback. Don’t take it personally. Use it as an opportunity to learn, grow, and make changes.
Learn from a coach, mentor, or consultant.
Whether it’s hiring a coach, catching up with your mentor, or bringing in outside consultants, these types of relationships are priceless. They can share with you how they achieved past victories, as well as setbacks.
Moreover, they can challenge you to try out new forms of leadership. Or, you can be inspired by them and put your own twist on their style.
For example, you may look up to Steve Jobs or Elon Musk for being innovative, decisive, or encouraging teamwork. But, you don’t have to romanticize their bad behavior. As such, you could blend those styles with empathy.
Work outside your organization.
“One of the simplest and most powerful sources of learning is simply to have worked within different organizations,” writes Ben Brearley BSc. BCM MBA. “Leaders who have spent much of their time within a single organization tend to become accustomed to the status quo.”
To prevent this, spend time in other work environments. When you do, you become exposed “to new ideas, new people and new organizational models,” adds Brearley. “It also provides you access to more diverse leadership approaches, because you’ll have had many different bosses to report to.”
“If you are somebody who has worked at the same organization for a long time, you need to ensure that you continue to learn from as many different external sources as possible,” he suggests. Hopefully, this will “provide you with diverse outside information that you can bring into your current role.”
How can you work with other organizations? You could find a part-time job, volunteer, or collaborate with partner companies. Some ideas for the latter would be co-sponsoring an event, co-branding a product/service, or publishing research together.
If the above is too overwhelming, seek opportunities to take on new roles and responsibilities within your organization. Maybe you could spend a day working for your sales department manager to see how they lead.
Share what you know.
“If you want to learn — teach,” advises Sally Fox, Ph.D. “Those of us who teach leadership professionally know this secret: We have to develop ourselves, keep learning, and model what we believe.”
“No matter where you are in your career, you can mentor others, offer what you know, share your questions, exchange insights, and keep learning,” Dr. Fox adds. “By so doing, you’ll further your own education.”
In addition to mentoring, write blog boats, host a podcast, or start an online course. I also think that speaking opportunities are clutch since you can also mingle and network. Overall, there’s no shortage of ways for you to pass along your knowledge.
Schedule “me” time.
Most of us avoid spending time alone. After all, we’re social creatures. And, loneliness can be detrimental to our mental and physical health.
However, there’s nothing wrong with indulging in some solitude occasionally. In fact, this can be beneficial as this can reduce stress, encourage gratitude, and build mental strength.
Moreover, spending time by yourself allows you to plan and develop compassion. Most importantly? It gives you a chance to reflect and learn more about yourself so that you’re comfortable in your own skin.
Introduce yourself to new and disruptive ideas — as often as possible.
As a leader, I’m positive that you’re surrounded by your favorite books, podcasts, and websites. And, there’s nothing wrong with that. After all, these resources are proven ways to keep learning and growing.
But, you should also expand your horizons. Ask your network what book you should read next. Listen to a brand-new podcast while you commute or exercise.
You can also subscribe to innovation blogs like Innovation Management or Both Sides of the Table. Another idea would be following influencers on social media or stay updated with hashtags. And, you should become a TED Member and dig into leadership reports from organizations like Criterion.