For my final blog in the nurture series I wanted to talk about leadership. Maybe you already lead a team, maybe you are aspiring to that. You don't have to lead a team in a company/institution to be a leader - you might be self-employed, a parent or a volunteer down at your local sports or social club or within the community. This article is written for all the people who use leadership skills - formally or informally.
Look around you
Do you think that great leaders are born or made? Nature vs nurture?
You might think as you look at the leaders around you that they are all natural-born leaders. You might feel that they all share personality traits - perhaps they are charismatic, resilient, have oodles of self-belief? Maybe they are experts in their field? Whilst some of these things may be natural, others may have been learnt or come via experience. I certainly believe we can create and develop amazing leaders given the right environment and support.
If you take the time to observe you will see that everyone has different leadership styles - some are quieter, others more ruthless, others more collaborative. I really liked this article in The Guardian on women's leadership as it discusses nature vs nurture.
Exercise: Look at the leaders around you - what traits do they possess? What style do they use when they lead? What inspires you (or not)?
Do you have any limiting beliefs on how you perform as a leader? Many of my clients (and colleagues) look at others and feel that they are not at the same level, however, in my experience those leaders feel the same way. In fact, whilst a leader might look confident on the outside, on the inside they might be crippled by self doubt. It's a common trait and if you suffer from imposter syndrome you're not alone.
What if you knew that you could learn to be the leader you want to be? How would that change things for you? I imagine you might set about trying to nurture your leadership skills...and set yourself up for success.
Ways to nurture your leadership skills
Creativity - a great leader doesn't do things because they have always been done, nope, a great leader takes a step back and determines what is needed in the situation and/or by the team. They might think creatively, ask questions and listen to others. They create their own process and bring the team with them. Have a read of my blog on how can you nurture your creativity.
Collaboration - everyone's leadership style is different; some more effective than others. When two leaders work together with different styles it can bring it all together - perhaps one leader focusing on the technical aspect of the project/task and the other focusing on the group. When you put a team together, you look for people who know their skills and can work cohesively; so too know your own skills and where it might be beneficial to get someone else involved. It's OK to ask for help. Nurture your collaboration skills by looking for opportunities to work with others, particularly those who have a different style of working compared to you.
Get comfortable with being uncomfortable - to really nurture your leadership skills you are going to want to step outside of your comfort zone - this is where the magic happens. If you think you can add value to a role, even if you aren't sure quite how you might do it...go for it! Remember that people wouldn't ask you to take on a project if they didn't believe in you (and you wouldn't ask for a project if you didn't believe in yourself). When you get outside your comfort zone, it grows and you gain knowledge, experience and most importantly, confidence.
Inspiring others - whether you nurture others formally or informally through mentoring or coaching I guarantee you will get as much out of it as they do - if not more. Whether you pass on your experience, stories, anecdotes or you take a more coaching approach you inspire others. This will help the group/team grow in confidence, making it stronger and more effective. In addition, you may get some insights and aha moments as you listen to theirs (I know I do when I listen to my clients!). Remember, you don't need to understand the minutiae - that's what your team are for. Leadership is all about creating the right environment for others to thrive, grow and inspire interesting possibilities.
Resilience - we all have setbacks and traditionally, resilience has been considered to be that ability to bounce back. Actually, though, it is more than that. We are often switched on, what with emails, social media and other offline commitments. Resilience isn't reserved for those moments of crisis but is used frequently in our daily lives. Nurture your resilience through having a good support system, keeping brain and body active and developing self-awareness.
Being the best leader you can be
My question to you today is:
Which skills do you need to nurture to be the best leader you can be?
As always, if you would like someone to hold you accountable, help you identify your leadership skills and how to make the most of them,' please get in touch or book onto one of my leadership programmes