Just how does one go about developing leadership skills?
Let’s take a look at how one of the largest employers in the country develops the leaders that keep the gears running smoothly. First off, who is this employer? Some may know him as Uncle Sam ringing any bells? You guessed it, the United States Military.
How does a force so large prepare the lower ranks to move up and fill in the slots of leadership? There are a number of ways to accomplish this, but probably the easiest way is through training. Not sitting in classroom-type training, we’re talking about good old hands-on training. The U.S. Military has always done something that sets itself apart from all the other armies of the world.
They have always trained to know their job as well as the job of the man below them and one to even two jobs above their current pay grade. They do this by letting younger troops take charge and lead a mission, let them be squad leader for a day, or let them plan a mission on their own. It’s training, that’s how we learn to train like you going to fight.
Every good leader has learned to develop a style of leadership that works best for them. The best way to do this is to simply take charge of something and get it done. If you see something at work that you know needs to be done, do it. If you and your friends are spending five to ten minutes deciding where to eat every time you get hungry, pick a place and take them there. You might catch some flak about it once in a while, but at least you’re making a decision.
One thing you must remember is to keep everything fair. Leadership doesn’t work without mutual respect. You have to give it to get it. I’m sure we’ve all heard that before. Sometimes that can be what separates a good leader from a great leader. If you respect your people, they will follow you to the end of the earth. If you don’t, they will do just enough to get by. Also, keep this in mind, leading isn’t all about you, if you don’t have anyone to follow you, you can’t lead.
Another big thing a leader must have is confidence. No one will follow a leader that fails to make a decision period. Going back to what I said earlier about making a decision, it is better to have made a decision and been wrong, than to sit there and do nothing. Your people will respect you for trying and that is how we learn. But when you show you have no confidence in yourself, people will have no confidence in your abilities as a leader either. So walk tall and show off your confidence.
Now there is something to be said about classroom training, and the military does believe in it. There are three main courses in the army that you must complete before you can advance to the next level of rank. They start at Sergeant and go up from there. If you’re on the outside world and feel you may need a little more help in these areas, look to your local colleges for continuing education classes.
Maybe join a group in the community that has some sort of structure and see how their leaders work. There are a number of resources available today to better yourself, you may even consider joining the military. Whatever you decide, if you apply some of what is said here you will find yourself leading people before you know it.