Updated: Sep 22, 2022
Both personally and professionally it is important to have a goal, something to be obtained to help you improve or move forward. For me, learning to become a better leader has helped me in reaching some of my goals.
How can Leadership Skills Help with Career Goals? Leadership skills allow you to create a vision, take educated risks, improve your listening and communication skills, empower your team and build character. Having these abilities will help you lead others and yourself, creating an environment ripe for success.
Each of the above helps your career goals differently. I have broken each down into what it looks like and the impact each will have on goal achievement.
Create a Vision and Put it to Work
Leaders are inspired by a vision. This can be a vision self-created, adopted from the organization they belong to, or belonging to a much larger global vision they feel passionate about. This is what drives them towards success; it is the piece that motivates all the actions and decisions made.
Once a leader decides on their vision, their priorities and values become embedded within that vision.
An example of this could be; The customer’s experience and happiness are the number one priority, as such, we will create an experience where each customer feels valued, heard, and comfortable during their time at our facility. This will drive your decisions regarding where to put your money, your time, and your people. All your decisions will be based on this ultimate goal. This does not mean every customer or employee will like what you do, it will mean that if there is a gap or something that could be improved upon, this is where the priority will be.
Some ways to put this into action could be to have a gift or a personalized card that can be given to frequent customers or new customers, complimentary coffee/snacks/charging stations, comfortable seating, and an area where the client’s children can be entertained, a personalized phone call to see how their last experience was, or a call from a manager or team member thanking them for being a valued client (not to sell them products). Think, if you, your mother, or a neighbor were to be a client, what would make a difference to them? What works and what does not work, and what would be amazing that has never been done before?
How this Helps with Career Goals – Our end vision is the ultimate goal we strive to work towards. By establishing a clear vision, a pathway can be developed with a clear set of goals to be achieved. When you can show that you can create, plan out and effectively execute the various steps within a vision, you show strength for big-picture thinking in addition to the ability to pay attention to the details.
Take Educated Risks
Not every risk taken will be a success but this does not mean that there is no value. By taking educated and informed risks we can learn and grow as leaders. This shows that mistakes are learning opportunities, and will not be accepted as failures without value.
Decisions need to be driven by thought and evaluation. By taking the time to think through decisions on our own or with the involvement of others we can view things with more perspective. Will these decisions impact others? What are the risks vs rewards of making this decision? If something goes wrong can the decision be undone? If not, is it something that can be moved forward from? Am I willing to accept the blame if this does not work?
Do not let fear stop you from making a tough decision. Leaders need to act boldly to succeed. They speak up when they agree or don’t agree with something/someone. Leaders are willing to ask for others’ thoughts and opinions to gain a variety of perspectives, even if they may not like what they hear. By using these different tools a leader can choose what risks they should take and which to abstain from.
Leaders also trust their gut and brain. If something is not sitting right with either they can check in and evaluate what they are worried about. It may be something uncomfortable yet still serves their vision, or it could be something with severe consequences. Tough and sometimes unpopular decisions need to be made, by being able to evaluate properly and weigh that against a purpose.
Some examples of this are:
Speaking up in meetings
Taking on a client others find difficult to manage
Offering to come up with solutions or lead a committee to address an ongoing issue
Addressing an issue before a manager asks and letting them know the solution
Taking courses to gain insight into an ongoing issue to offer support
Applying to mentorship and leadership programs within or outside the company
Leading a debrief into a failure that has occurred and brainstorming next steps
Address issues outside your scope ie Safety concerns
How this Helps with Career Goals – Allowing yourself to evaluate and take risks will set you apart from others. It will show others you are willing to take the initiative, not just do what is asked of you. Humans have a natural aversion to failure, we do not want to be seen as being incompetent or incapable. When you are willing to step outside your comfort zone to show others your value, you demonstrate a willingness to learn and do what it takes to achieve success.
Improve your Listening and Communication Skills
The better a leader can become at listening and communicating with those around them, the more effective they will become. Listening and communicating are at the core of a leader’s performance.
When we improve our listening abilities, it becomes easier to gain a variety of perspectives, understand unique positions, gain insight into why something will or won’t work, and see opportunities that were missed through a singular viewpoint. By increasing the ability to hear and understand what someone is telling us, and seeking clarification and background information, we gain much more knowledge. This, in turn, leads us more frequently to positive results.
Great leaders seek to understand, not just to know the basic facts. They don’t care that something did or didn’t work, they want to know why, what could have been done differently, and what should remain the same. From this, there can be growth and the seizing of other opportunities.
Communication is not just about the words spoken, but also the tone and the body language that is used to deliver them. The easiest way for others to support you is by communication that is clear, concise and makes sense to them. By using our words, tone, and body language to show respect for the other person we immediately mitigate any situations that may arise.
Some examples of this;
Scenario A – On Monday at 8:06 am Susan comes into the office, slams her briefcase onto her desk and throws her jacket on the floor.
Blake Response A – Blake walks in and leans on Susan’s desk saying “Susan, where are the reports? You didn’t put them on my desk before you left Friday. You’re messing up my morning” – Chances are that Susan is not going to react kindly to this approach. Blake has made a series of errors during their first interaction of the week. He has entered her space without asking, he has not acknowledged her current state, he has made an assumption she didn’t do her job and blamed her for how his day is going.
Response B – Blake is standing at the entrance to Susan’s area. He knocks on her wall and says, “hi Susan, I saw you come in this morning and it looks like you are a bit rushed. Can you let me know when you have time this morning to talk, I am trying to locate the reports from Friday” – Susan will more than likely respond much more kindly to this. Here Blake has respected her space, acknowledged her state, and asked for her time within his parameters, identifying the issue he needs to be addressed.
Both listening and communication, when used in conjunction, assist in a leader’s ability to forge a relationship based on trust and mutual respect. As shown above, by taking the time to listen and see what is happening for the person at that time, we can tailor our communications to best suit the situation.
How this Helps with Career Goals – When you show a genuine interest in others and what they have to say, they will be more likely to listen to you when you speak. This will help in growing your social network as you will naturally increase the number of long-lasting connections you have with others.
Knowing how to actively listen helps broaden not only our view of others but also the view we have of ourselves. This ability allows for more dynamic thinking and problem-solving creating new pathways to achieve our goals.
When working to ensure you communicate your intent, vision, expectations, and needs, you allow others to rise to the challenge and meet the opportunities you have set out for them. The clearer you are, the more likely others will be able to help you achieve your goals. This will also allow them to share any issues they foresee, allowing you to solve problems before they can derail anyone’s effort.
Empower your team
One of the greatest gifts a leader can give to their team is the confidence to become leaders themselves. The nice thing about being a leader is that you do not need to have an official title to become one. Leaders inspire people to pursue their vision and share in others’ successes, as without a network of people willing to take chances, learn from one another and support each other we would have limited success. The majority of successful people, even those that face great adversity, often pull from others at times of weakness to get through, even if it is just to prove someone wrong.
Encourage those around you to view their words and actions as having value. Foster an environment where people can share ideas and work together in a positive way to come up with innovative solutions. Look for opportunities others have missed and create long-lasting, sustainable results.
How this Helps with Career Goals – When we expect more of others, up we also raise the bar on ourselves. If you can work on keeping others in a positive, optimistic head-space, where they feel of value and purpose, they will reciprocate the effort. Empowering others means that their success is not theirs alone, it is also yours. Even if you have different career aspirations or goals, being part of another’s success, and having them within your network, can give you the feeling of achievement and can lead to future opportunities for you as well.
Being a leader means embodying the various traits that go along with it. These are often things that make a leader likable or relatable, such as positivity, approachability, honesty, integrity, and humility. Leaders are always eager to learn about themselves. They take the time to learn about their strengths and how to leverage them, as well as their weaknesses and how to grow from, improve or accept them.
By continually learning about themselves they can see those traits in others around them. Through practice they learn how each person can support their strengths or shore up their weaknesses, creating a stronger team and network.
The ability to gain a strong knowledge, a sense of self and strength in your character will help when criticisms, conflicts or issues arise. Our character is forged when there are frictions and challenges.
How this Helps with Career Goals – The more we know about a person’s character the more likely we are to trust them with making decisions. By building your character, and being comfortable with your strengths and weaknesses, you will be able to work towards your goals and be supported in doing so. It will also allow you to have a stronger conscience and know when decisions being made will not meet your needs or when it is time to change course.
When there is opposition, criticism or conflict, you will be able to pull from your experience and your values to justify, clarify and support your decisions. This may, in turn, result in opportunities to lead others as people will know what to expect from you. When others see this trait in you, you will be given more freedom and increased responsibility as you will demonstrate the ability to get the best out of others.
Clarity is the Key to Effective Leadership. What are Your Goals? – Brian Tracy