Think all great leaders are born that way? The truth is that leadership is a skill like any other – it takes years to develop, sharpen, and perfect.
Here is some expert advice from top entrepreneurs on improving your leadership skills and reaping the rewards in the world of business.
Define Your Goals
So you want to be a leader? Who do you wish to lead? What do you aim to accomplish? What are your conditions for success? Answer these questions before moving forward.
“We tend to focus too much on leadership as an idea instead of what it actually means in real life. Stop thinking theoretically about it. Set out clear goals and success factors. If you can’t do that, you’re thinking too far ahead.” – Jeff Meeks, VP of Sales and Marketing at EnergyFit
“The best leaders are extremely goal-oriented and construct their habits accordingly. Map out long-term goals and determine what needs to be done in the short term to achieve them. Leadership will spring naturally from this approach.” – Ramin Oskoui, Director of Growth Marketing at Nurosene
“We set goals not only for ourselves – more for the people counting on us. That’s what builds accountability and trust, and what causes people to rise to the occasion when leadership is needed.” – Jim Beard, COO of BoxGenie
Sharpen the Sword
Study and speculation will only take you so far in developing a skill. Throw yourself into the action and learn from experience – it’s always the best way to improve.
“If you plan to be a leader, get ready to learn, because this is a life-long education. Every day will contain tons of small lessons that you’ll need to reflect on and incorporate the next time around. It’s a process of constant evolution, so be prepared.” – Aidan Cole, CEO of Nailboo
“For an entrepreneur, every day is another learning experience that will sharpen your skills in many areas. If you keep pushing yourself in new ways, you’ll become a strong leader faster than any degree or workshop.” – Lindsay McCormick, Founder and CEO of Bite
“If your goal is to be the best possible leader you can be, promise to never shy away from new experiences or back down from challenges. Those are the big learning opportunities that you need to embrace to improve, even if you’re uncomfortable.” – Olivia Young, Head of Product Design at Conscious Items
“Welcoming feedback from employees, clients, and peers – it’s never easy, but it’s necessary. Learn to toss your ego aside and listen to what others have to see, especially if you don’t agree with them at first.” – Jared Zabaldo, CEO of USAMM
Raise Others Up
The leaders who focus strictly on themselves rarely make it very far in business. Helping others improve will accelerate progress in any field.
“The single biggest way to impact an organization? Leadership development. An organization that recruits good people is destined to succeed. Raise employees up as leaders and continually develop their skills.” – Speaker and Author John Maxwell
“As we look ahead into the years to come, leaders will be those who empower others.” – Bill Gates, Co-Founder of Microsoft
“A true leader will bring employees and peers to a higher level of achievement and excellence. They lead ‘from the front’ and aren’t willing to get involved on the front lines.” – Tyler Hayden Read, Founder of PT Pioneer
“Look around your workplace every day and think about how you can help the people in your vicinity. That should give you plenty of chances to apply and improve your leadership skills, and you don’t even need a course or textbook.” – Lucas Nudel, Founder and CEO of Pride Palace
“No leader is free from fault. In fact, the best leaders take ownership no matter what happens, and they put the weight of the team on their own shoulders. Never be the person to point fingers or play the blame game.” – Shaun Price, Head of Customer Acquisition at MitoQ
Avoid Leadership Pitfalls
Sometimes the most effective lessons are learned from mistakes and setbacks. Do your best to avoid them, but never give up the fight – no matter what happens.
“I’ve always believed that strong leadership is rooted in empathy. Nearly every one of us has had a difficult boss… maybe even a few. We may even have specific situations we can recall that we would have handled differently. These are such important lessons to learn, especially as you take on the role of leader yourself. When looking to improve your leadership skills, remember what it was like to be on the other side of the conversation, and focus on engagement, inclusivity and a positive company culture.” – Marc Atiyeh, CEO of Pawp
“Everyone has weaknesses, even the leaders we admire most. Look for those weaknesses within yourself and make improvements now, so that they don’t cause bigger problems for your team down the road.” – Dylan Arthur Garber, Co-Founder of Audien Hearing
“The second you get too comfortable in your position, that’s when things start to slip. Never abandon the path of improvement, because there’s always something new to work on.” – Matthew Mundt, CEO and Founder of Hug Sleep
There is no quick lesson plan to becoming a better leader, nor is there a substitute for hard work. But hopefully, these insights will show you the path to superior leadership and help achieve your own version of success.