Leadership isn't easy, and it's not something you're born with.
Counter to the common business mythology, most "born leaders" actually developed their skills through their life's experiences and interactions.
Even virtuosos study and practice their craft.
A person may fall into a leadership position, but nobody falls into being a great leader.
Anyone can embrace a position of leadership in their organization, no matter what their job title — and there are myriad benefits to doing so.
Here is a list of leadership skills anyone can develop that will be infinitely valuable, whether you're a new hire or a CEO.
You may not immediately recognize mindset as a skill, but a leadership mindset is something that requires thoughtful honing.
In his book Work Rules, Laszlo Bock describes a "founder's mentality" that permeates the halls of some of the world's greatest organizations. It's a deep sense of ownership and accountability towards the success and growth of the organization itself, and the people of that organization.
You can embrace that sense of "foundership" in your own work no matter what that work is, and the results of that approach impact everyone on your team.
It takes courage to take the kind of calculated risks leaders are often faced with. It takes courage to stick your neck out and embrace ownership and accountability over something.
Courageous leadership is far from a new concept, but you'll need to develop more than one kind of courage to be a great leader and a better colleague.
It's equally important to be courageous enough to admit your mistakes, even if it does sting.
Our friends at Officevibe shared some great info on why people hate admitting their mistakes (especially at work), and how you can fix that.
To build the kind of sustained intrinsic motivation that leadership requires, and to inspire that motivation in others, you need a strong purpose to get behind.
Not only is it crucial to find purpose in your own work, a great leader can help others discover and see the purpose in theirs.
How do you do that?
Sometimes a new perspective is all it takes for someone to see the purpose in their work.
Try to provide that perspective when you can. Show your teammates the positive impact their work has on you, the organization, and the outside world.
We recently interviewed Imperative's Arthur Woods, who shared some excellent insights into finding and sharing purpose at work.
The best leaders are the ones who can organize others to work in concert towards a single goal.
If the energy you're expending towards a goal is discordant, it's hard to imagine how you'd inspire others to work harmoniously toward a common conclusion.
That's why focus is so important.
When you have a meaningful purpose to work towards and you're focused on it, it's much easier for others to get behind it, and work together to achieve it.
Although focus is a key factor in great leadership, it's equally important to embrace flexibility in how you achieve the goals you're focused on.
There are often many ways to solve any given problem.
As a leader, it's your responsibility to take into account multiple perspectives, and be flexible enough in your own apporach to adopt the best solutions.
Great communication skills are a prerequisite to leadership in any context.
If people can't understand what you're advocating or pushing towards, they can't help you achieve it. Expressing yourself clearly and directly is a crucial skill.
The equally (likely more) important counterpart to expressing yourself clearly is listening effectively. That doesn't stop with sound waves physically hitting your ears; it's about absorbing, and thoughtfully engaging with the information others share with you.
You can express yourself effectively but still communicate terribly if you're not really listening.
Make sure you're always working on improving your listening skills, and your ability to clearly express your ideas.
Each time you communicate with a member of your team is a golden opportunity for both.
Part of being a great leader is developing a deep and genuine sense of empathy. You need to be able to put yourself into the shoes of others, and understand their position, their feelings, and their motivations.
Without empathy, communication often breaks down, and without communication there is no leadership.
In order to gain the trust and backing of your team, it's crucial to empathize.
In her article "What's Empathy Got to Do with It," Bruna Martinuzzi sums up the importance of empathetic leadership beautifully:
Indeed, empathy is valued currency. It allows us to create bonds of trust, it gives us insights into what others may be feeling or thinking; it helps us understand how or why others are reacting to situations, it sharpens our "people acumen" and it informs our decisions.
You don't have to oppose others to be a leader.
In fact, the best leaders are the ones who have a keen sense of what it takes to get things done together, rather than working in opposition to others.
There will nearly always be common ground to find in any conflict, and finding that common ground is a priceless skill to have. You'll always get more done with a focused, collaborative team.
Take any chance you get to develop that competency by collaborating with your colleagues regularly. The broader the scope of that collaboration, the better.
Finally, one of the greatest skills you can develop as a leader is mentorship. Everyone has something valuable to share with others, and it's imperative to do that.
Identify your top skills and help others to develop them.
There are a lot of ways to become a mentor, whether you're helping someone navigate the company campus on their first day, or master public speaking, you can be the one who helps lead them to success.
Managers aren't the only ones who benefit from leadership skills. Developing these competencies can make you a better teammate to everyone, regardless of whether or not you're already in a traditional leadership position.
If you're ready to continue the journey to better leadership, check out our latest guide: