How to Be a Leader
SEP 24, 2018

Almost everyone dreams of being a leader. However, not many people have what it takes to be one. Some essential skills are required to rise above the rest and be king of the hill.

Management

To transform their vision into reality, leaders need to build an organized and effective system. This is achieved through meticulous attention to detail, realistic target-setting and precise scheduling. According to the Harvard Business Publishing Report on Leadership, good leaders possess a talent for systems thinking, viewing organizations and environments as complex, interdependent systems. Effective leaders have the foresight to think strategically about long-term consequences rather than immediate gains. This includes the ability to delegate tasks efficiently and assign them to the most appropriate individuals based on their distinctive talents or skill-sets. In addition to understanding the strengths and weaknesses of others, leaders need to be aware of their own strengths and weaknesses, and optimize their team to complement their abilities. Good leaders will be able to cultivate a strong and multitalented team of individuals who can work synergistically together.

Flexibility

The real world is not set in black and white. A variety of unpredictable situations can and will occur. Some of these issues will not be solved through traditional means. Hence, a combination of critical, analytical and creative problem solving skills allows one to think outside the box. You don’t need to be a Picasso to be able to do this. You do, however, need to be open to consistently learning new things, have the courage to embrace radical approaches and take the road less travelled, and adapt to changing trends. This is especially important in today’s fast-paced, ever-evolving world. In fact, researchers at Harvard business school have found that embracing curiosity, makes individuals less likely to commit confirmation bias (the tendency to interpret new evidence as confirmation of one's existing beliefs or theories while ignoring evidence that opposes it), and stereotyping people. Thus, leaders who are open minded will be able to generate greater alternatives and make more rational decisions.

Communication

A good leader is able to convey their message clearly and concisely. Many successful captains of industry such as Richard Branson and Warren Buffet credit their success to their communication skills. This goes beyond the words articulated and includes non-verbal cues, such as tone of voice and body language; and it is not just a one-way street. The communication process requires two or more people. This is where the act of fully concentrating and responding to what is being said – or active listening – is essential. Receiving feedback and addressing criticisms help individuals and organizations grow stronger and better. Misinterpretations or, worse, lack of communication due to fear or incompetence can have disastrous results as seen in a survey that found 86 percent of employees and executives cited a “lack of collaboration” or “ineffective communication” as the source of most workplace failure. In contrast, another survey found participants rating effective communication skills as the most important factor in making an executive “promotable,” more important than ambition, education, and capacity for hard work.

Empathy

Leaders need to work with a diverse group of people, many of whom may not necessarily share the same values, views, or culture. Possessing high emotional intelligence allows leaders to understand others’ perspectives, moods, and personalities, and respond in a kind and respectful manner. This is paramount to earning their trust and respect. Being open and honest will encourage the other party to do the same, and they will feel comfortable going to their leader with questions and concerns. Empathy in leadership is also about being able to motivate and inspire others to follow your vision.Simon Sinek, best-selling author on leadership and famous motivational speaker cites true leadership as empowering others to achieve things they didn’t think possible. The team-building expert states that great leaders “prioritize the well-being of their people and, in return, their people give everything they’ve got to protect and advance the well-being of one another and the organization.” Sinek’s book posits that even small acts of kindeness such as asking about other’s day build a stronger work environment. Through empathy, individuals are determined to work harder and more passionately when they not only believe in their leader but also in the value of the work they are doing.

Developing Leadership Skills

At Shattuck-St. Mary’s Forest City International School, we believe in equipping your child with the leadership skills necessary for global leadership. To prepare our students to meet the challenges of the future, we adopt a holistic and innovative approach, which also includes theater arts that cultivate strong communication skills, a project-based STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) program that develops effective organization skills and a bespoke weCreate® program that fosters creativity and innovation. We strive to help our students achieve the best version of themselves and become innovative trailblazers and captains of industry of the future.