It makes little difference what field you work in – leadership skills matter. And we’re not just talking about company management here; these skills even make a difference when you’re running a household.
So, how do you actually become a better leader?
Leadership theorists used to argue that great leaders were genetically gifted, predisposed to behave as leaders. However, studies have disproved that view. We now know that 70 percent of the qualities associated with great leadership are learned behaviors. In response to this discovery, since 1996 there has been a massive boom in leadership development literature.
Yet, this has hardly led to a new generation of gifted leaders.
Worse, evidence suggests that there is a negative correlation between the rise in prominence of the field, and the confidence that Americans have in their leaders.
If books aren’t working, what’s the best way to learn about leadership? Rather than seeing leadership as learnable knowledge, it would help to think of it as a set of skills. A skill can be learned through exercises, training your automatic behavior so that a habit is developed.
Let’s look at the example of Laura. She was an emergency room nurse who was repeatedly passed over for management roles. Laura hadn’t noticed that her colleagues saw her as abrupt, emotionally erratic and argumentative. In short, she was hardly leadership material. To polish her CV and ensure she got the promotion she desired, Laura decided to take part in the author’s leadership development program. She learned to practice an important exercise: asking colleagues open-ended questions that ideally hinged on “What” or “How.” To remind herself to do this, she made a note on her hand. She soon found that her colleagues were a lot more responsive if she asked for their opinions. Using this technique, her relationships began to improve and her confidence grew.
You too could try adapting your behavior in this manner, and developing this simple habit. Soon enough, Laura didn’t need written reminders. She not only succeeded in getting the management position she aspired to, but her relationships with friends and family members improved. All it took was training in the right skills.
But how do you do this?
The following blinks will introduce you the author’s Leader Habit Formula. The idea is that the habits essential for leadership can be practiced with simple five-minute training exercises.