How to Build Leadership Skills & Grow Your Career

In the competitive landscape of today's professional world, advancing one's career is a challenging endeavour with many wondering how they can stand out from the crowd and climb the corporate ladder.

One way to do so is by learning how to become a leader. From networking to understanding those around you, developing people leadership skills is an invaluable way for you to improve your career prospects. 

So, let’s get started by recognising:

What are Leadership Skills?

Leadership skills are a distinct set of strengths and capabilities that are demonstrated by individuals. A good leader is an individual with the ability to guide, inspire, and influence a team towards the accomplishment of a shared goal or objectives.

This is why it’s important to remember that leadership is about more than just issuing commands. It’s about providing vision, setting direction, and creating an environment where team members feel empowered, engaged, and motivated to give their best.

Part of what makes a leader truly effective is their ability to engage in vertical leadership development. This involves evolving one's thinking and mindset to handle increasingly complex challenges.

Vertical leadership is not just about acquiring new skills, but also about deepening the capacity to process information, reflect on experiences, and change mental models, beliefs, and values.

For instance, a leader with a well-developed vertical mindset would not only set a vision but would also understand the underlying dynamics and interdependencies that affect the organisation. They are adept at navigating ambiguity, promoting innovation, and adapting to change, as they can see beyond the surface level of issues and understand the deeper complexities involved.

While some may possess an innate knack for leadership, it's not always a given. Fortunately, leadership is a skill that can be honed and developed over time. It involves a continuous journey of learning, adapting, and growing. 

Engaging in vertical leadership development is an integral part of this journey, as it equips leaders with the cognitive complexity and depth of understanding needed to thrive in today’s fast-paced and intricate business environments.

Why Building Leadership Skills can Advance Your Career?

1. It increases your visibility within the organisation

Cultivating leadership skills plays a crucial role in enhancing your visibility within an organisation. Leaders need to act as an example and engage those around them to work towards a common goal.

Even if you’re an individual contributor, developing leadership skills can help you flourish. For example, guiding new colleagues or taking the lead on a project are all excellent ways to showcase your abilities.

Furthermore, honing leadership skills sharpens your decision-making and strategic thinking capabilities, which are all highly valued. And these in turn, will improve your chances of getting noticed and earmarked for advancement.

2. People leadership skills improves your marketability

Good leaders are lifelong learners, who constantly seek opportunities to improve themselves. They see challenges as chances to improve themselves, and they believe they can learn anything and overcome any situation.

This is sometimes referred to as the growth mindset and is vital for developing resilience in the face of change or adversity. Besides that, it is also a desired trait amongst leaders.

Take Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft, as an example. When he first assumed the mantle of leadership, Nadella found himself dealing with a company that was heavily siloed and resistant to innovation.

Looking to make a change, Nadella and his team set out to transform the organisation’s culture into one which prioritised self-improvement, continual learning, and an open mind.

The results were remarkable with new and innovative products being introduced and revenues hitting record highs. 

So, what does it mean for an employee?

Firstly, it underscores the importance of continuous learning and adaptation. By broadening our skills and embracing change, we open doors to new possibilities.

It also highlights the value of a growth mindset in overcoming obstacles and navigating the ever-changing work environment. By staying curious, open-minded, and resilient, we not only increase our potential but also contribute to the overall success of our organisations.

All of which are critical for building up your capabilities as a high-flying, top performer who is an attractive candidate for many companies.

3. You can become a better colleague and employee

Even if you’re not in a management role, picking up leadership skills can give you a leg-up on the corporate ladder. 

By sharpening your leadership skills, you can learn how to decide on what is the best approach to a task. Or even how to amicably resolve workplace conflicts.

Moreover, gaining expertise in leadership not only provides you with crucial communication abilities to express concepts more effectively but also enables you to encourage constructive dialogues and overcome workplace complexities proficiently. 

These help you stand out from your peers and improve relationships with colleagues and other members of your organisation.

Thirdly, leadership is inherently tied to emotional intelligence. This includes empathy and self-awareness, understanding the motivations of others, and managing emotions constructively. All of these skills are essential for working effectively and harmoniously with your colleagues.

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Building Leadership Skills

Overcome imposter syndrome

Most of us have probably doubted or questioned our abilities and successes at some point. For example, you received a commendation at work, but you can’t seem to stop telling yourself that it’s all a big mistake. And the next time round, you’re going to be found out.

This is often referred to as imposter syndrome, a psychological term that was first introduced in 1978. It refers to anxiety or doubt caused by the belief that one’s success isn’t legitimate or genuine. 

In fact, imposter syndrome is actually quite common and even successful business figures and CEOs struggle with it. One famous example is the former CEO of Starbucks, Howard Schultz.

During an interview with the New York Times, Schultz candidly said, “Very few people, whether you’ve been in that job before or not, get into the seat and believe today that they are now qualified to be the CEO. They’re not going to tell you that, but it’s true.”

So, if you’re looking to develop yourself as a leader, you need to know and understand that imposter syndrome is something that you have to live with. 

Remember: self-doubt and instances of failure are not indicators of unworthiness or incompetence, but they are all natural parts of the growth and learning process.

Grow professionally

Even for those who are naturally gifted with leadership abilities, honing and expanding those skills is essential. 

People leadership is not static; it's a dynamic, evolving skill set that can always be improved upon and diversified. Whether it's communication, decision-making, or strategic planning, there are always new methods, approaches, and philosophies to explore that can enhance your effectiveness as a leader.

Specialised training programs and courses offered by reputable institutions provide a structured environment to help you develop professionally and excel as a leader. Their programs are based on the latest research and best practices in people leadership, offering a wealth of knowledge to expand your understanding and refine your skills.

Through these courses, you can gain a deeper understanding of diverse leadership styles and when to employ them for the best results. For instance, you might learn when it's best to adopt certain leadership styles when planning out a task. .

Seek Out Mentorship & Networking Opportunities

Seeking out mentorship and networking opportunities is an excellent way to cultivate your leadership abilities and boost your career. In fact, a simple five-minute conversation during a company gathering, over a coffee break, or during a town hall can impart significant insights. 

These casual interactions allow you to ask questions, seek advice, or even discuss relevant industry trends or organisational changes. They can also provide clarity on a complex issue or inspire new ideas, all of which could greatly influence your leadership journey.

Observation is another powerful learning tool. Paying close attention to how these seasoned leaders carry themselves, how they speak, and how they interact with others can offer invaluable lessons. 

By observing their demeanour, communication style, decision-making process, and how they handle pressure or adversity, you can learn and adapt these qualities to enhance your own leadership style.

Take note of their confidence, their listening skills, and their ability to give clear, constructive feedback. Observe their strategic thinking abilities and how they inspire and motivate their teams. These are all traits of effective leaders that you can incorporate into your own leadership approach.

Closing Thoughts

As you can see, leadership skills are not just for those in managerial positions but also for those looking to advance in their careers. 

But do keep in mind that leaders never stop learning. To remain effective, you will need to continually improve yourself and stay up-to-date. Failing that, you risk becoming irrelevant and ineffective. So, if you’re looking to develop your skills as a leader further, check out our website.


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