Becoming a leader, for most of us, doesn’t happen overnight. Leadership itself is not just one skill that we either do or do not have within our natural strengths. Leadership is a range of skills that, when used together, can bring a team together successfully.  Here are 15 ways to begin building your leadership skills this week.

  1. Have a clear mission and vision and talk about them at your annual performance evaluation and at professional development talks with your boss (i.e., become a teaching faculty member, a vice-president, a director).
  2. Know your strengths and volunteer for projects at work that play to those strengths (i.e., personality test, Clifton’s Strength’s Finder test, peer feedback).
  3. Be passionate and enthusiastic about how you approach your workday, that means putting on a smile and building optimism into every interaction.
  4. Recognize your morals and values and stick to them, others will notice.
  5. Set definitive monthly goals and allocate weekly and daily actions, review your goals each week to ensure you are making progress. Discuss your goals with your boss, your colleagues, and other who may want to collaborate with you.
  6. Improve your communication skills with every conversation.
  7. Be a lifelong learner and commit yourself to continued education, in every format (i.e., books, classes, webinars, videos, conferences, etc.)
  8. Look at those in leadership around you and recognize the things they do that you admire most and incorporate those actions into your daily practice.
  9. Recognize that you have a higher purpose to your life (i.e., to make the world better for future generations) and learn what motivates your actions.
  10. Learn how to delegate assignments by recognizing others’ strengths and assigning projects to the right employees.
  11. Ask for a mentor, several mentors, each with a specific and assigned purpose (e.g., career ladder, formal education, learning new skills, outside your institution).
  12. Be a mentor to someone and learn from them as much as they learn from you.
  13. Master change and stress management skills and learn to handle conflicts in the workplace with grace, dignity and poise.
  14. Study and shadow what other connected offices do—learn what happens in every department and truly understand the workflow across your entire institution.
  15. Take responsibility for your failures and learn how to learn from your mistakes.

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