Leadership is a skill

Leadership is a skill

As I was preparing for a three day leadership development program I facilitate I read a blog by Amy Gallow on How to Master New Skills (HBR Blog) and I was reminded that leadership is a skill that needs to be continually developed, not just learned one time.

Mastering any skill takes practice and leadership is no different. Yet, as leaders, it is often challenging to find the time to continually practice and develop your leadership skills. Gallow recommends that you;

  1. Start small.
  2. Be patient.
  3. Get the right help.

Small changes that you master and then consistently practice will have more impact on your leadership success than we often assume. Leadership development does not need to be a complicated and time-consuming activity. As a part of an international program to redesign healthcare I led a leadership development project that involved in-depth training and skill development for a group of leaders. Yet, when we surveyed over 350 of the people they supervised and asked them what had the greatest impact of their leader’s success they primarily listed simple actions their leaders took. What mattered most to them was the consistency and reliability of the action. In fact, the consistency of the behavior was more important than what the actual behavior was!

As a leader in higher education I know that increasing employee engagement is vital to being successful. While that can feel like an overwhelming skill to develop I have discovered that by starting small and focusing on using questions consistently with my team I have been able to increase my confidence and the feeling of engagement. I need to continually remind myself that practicing one small skill and actually using it consistently will have a much larger impact than focusing on a large change.

Second, you are not alone and you do not need to take this on by yourself. Who can you seek out on your campus that can provide leadership guidance, feedback and support? In the busyness of daily work it is easy to overlook resources and people who are willing and interested in helping you succeed. We just need to ask!

Todd Thorsgaard


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