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4 Essential Skills to Make You an Effective Leader

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Leadership excellence is a distinction that many women strive for. Of course, becoming a strong leader requires the development of the right set of skills to attain the corresponding positions, titles, and other professional appointments. These challenges are at times even greater for women–where pushes against the so-called glass ceiling are still an ongoing issue.


The good news is that continued hard work towards progression has shown that women can bring an immense level of benefits within a leadership position. In fact, this study on gender diversity shows that women who lead within company operations boast a remarkably higher level of performance compared to a male-dominated direction.


This raises a very important question to many aspiring women: How can you develop the right skills to become an effective leader? While the answer to this question often carries a lot of considerations, a few critical components can help you become an outstanding female leader.


Let’s have a look at four of the essential thought processes and skill development you’ll need to rise up above the fold:


  1. Visualise Yourself as a Leader

True leadership starts and stops with you. By visualising yourself as a strong and capable leader, you’re already one step in the right direction. 


  Why it's important:

It doesn't matter what profession or position you're pursuing; visualisation is always an essential element of being a successful leader. If you can't see yourself achieving your success right now, it will become that much harder to actually get there.


  How to develop this skill: 

The key to successful visualisation comes in the form of imagery. Imagining the actions you need to take can empower you to actualise your vision as a successful female leader.


  2. Enhance Your Teamwork Skills

The ability to unite your colleagues and employees through teamwork is a critical element towards leadership success. After all, they are precisely who you'll be leading once you reach your goals.


  Why it's important:

Successful leadership isn't about some vaulted sense of self-importance, stepping over others to reach your goals, or bullying your followers into compliance. Instead, it's about fostering an environment of collaboration of collaboration which leads you and your team towards your objectives. 


  How to develop this skill:

Practice makes perfect with your understanding of teamwork. Volunteer to become part of a team to help you better understand the dynamics. Employ patience, understanding, and clear communication of expectations to your teammates.


Let yourself be willing to sacrifice control. Follow-up with feedback and hold yourself and others accountable. And if you and your team achieve milestones and accomplishments, celebrate with your team or colleagues. It’s not a solo effort; doing so shows you are one with the team and that you value each other’s contributions. 


  3. Never Forget Empathy

Enhancing your own empathy can help you better understand your team—and ultimately provide them what they need to thrive.


  Why it's important:

This quote from Janet Riccio, the Executive Vice President of marketing and communications firm OmniconGroup sums things up nicely: "The qualities that are required to lead in the 21st century include the ability to connect, collaborate, empathise, and communicate—all qualities that tend to be “female” in nature. Women in leadership roles position organisations in a way that makes them fit for the future."


This typically "female" quality is what creates and maintains the connections that are fundamental within the business world. Empathy can prove to be your secret weapon towards leadership success.


  How to develop this skill:

Empathy is all about doing your best to understand, relate to, and feel what other people are experiencing. Even just a few intentional actions can help you improve your ability to empathise. Examples include the following:


  - Provide a venue or method to communicate problems

  - Smile, make eye contact, and use peoples' names

  - Listen, ask questions, and personalise your communication

  - Don't immediately dismiss alternative viewpoints or ideas

  - Praise peoples' hard work and accomplishments


The ability to effectively empathise will not only result to better work relationships but also to better communication within the team—ultimately leading to more success. 


  4. Patience and Persistence

While this may sound a bit cliché, the odds can often feel like they’re stacked against you. Perseverance can truly pay off when you’re willing to stick with it (even when you're feeling hopeless).


  Why it's important:

Even the most talented people in the world had to earn the success they achieve. Take acclaimed actress Meryl Streep, for instance. During an  early audition, famed producer Dino De Laurentis rejected Streep outright, rudely criticising her to his son in Italian, a language De Laurentis presumed Streep did not understand. "Why did you bring me this ugly thing?" he asked, not realising that Streep could understand him. Fortunately, Streep persevered and continued to pursue other opportunities. Within two years, she had received an Academy Award nomination for her performance in The Deer Hunter, and the rest is cinematic history.


  How to develop this skill:

Persistence begins with patience. You need to learn to be patient in seeking out, finding, and pursuing your leadership opportunities and other opportunities beneficial to you and your business. From there, you need to learn how to disconnect one rejection or setback from defining who you are as a person or a professional.


While learning how to "brush it off" is certainly a difficult process, the value of this skill is the key to your eventual success. You're smart, talented, and destined for leadership greatness. Don't let a few rejections stop you from getting there. 


  Leadership Success: One Step at a Time

As you probably already know, you’re not going to have any sort of leadership opportunities just handed to you. But the right frame of mind—alongside a concerted effort towards the objectives you set for yourself—will help you become the successful leader you’ve always envisioned yourself to be.


BPW International is committed to empowering aspiring women leaders by providing a wide range of services for business and personal development. From mentoring and networking to professional skill-building programs, we believe in helping women across the world become leaders of their fields.




BPW International develops the professional, business and leadership potential of women on all levels through advocacy, mentoring, networking, skill building and economic empowerment programs and projects around the world.


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Guest Thursday, 19 July 2018