Leadership skills can play a large role in career development. Often, your technical skills can only take you so far. To help you move forward in your career, you need soft skills such as the ability to be a good leader. Therefore, leadership skills are considered to be important traits which can help you get to the top of your career field. You're more likely to be hired or get a promotion if you've been successful in leadership roles in your professional or personal life.
Few people are born to be leaders. Most of us need to practice being a good leader, and that's why leadership development is so important. There are many different types of leadership, and there are many skillsets that can help you become a successful leader.

Taking Initiative
Most bosses will assign their employees tasks that the employees have proven to be adept at. Therefore, don't wait to take on more responsibilities. Go above and beyond at your current position. A good way to develop your skills is to take on extra projects outside of your job description. Remember, the more work you do, the more you are learning. Learning more and taking on more responsibility can help move you into a leadership role in your workplace.

Critical Thinking
To be hired for a high-profile job, you will need to be a critical thinker. Good leaders are able to foresee potential problems before they happen. They can then develop ways to prevent the problems from happening. Good leaders are also aware of potential opportunities and take advantage of them to benefit the company and employees.

Listening Effectively
One of the most important skills for a leader is listening. Without listening skills, you are not able to get feedback from others and get a sense of what team members like about the projects they work on. Feedback is key. To listen effectively, you need to maintain eye contact, avoid distractions and respond appropriately. Keep in mind, communication is not only about verbal communication. Be aware of body language and gestures to determine what people are really saying.

Motivate Others
"If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader," said John Quincy Adams. A true leader should positively influence people. When employees or coworkers lose their ambitions and passions, a true leader can energize and motivate them. How do leaders motivate people? First, they know what people need and want. For example, if an employee loses motivation because he or she thinks his or her hard work is not being recognized, a good leader will talk to that person and offer the recognition that is deserved.

Sometimes, people lose their motivation because they are facing difficulties, tired of doing the same repetitive tasks or disappointed they are not being asked to get involved. As a leader, you should talk to him or her, ask him or her what's going on, and share your personal stories with him or her to encourage him or her to get involved.

Discipline is required in order to execute the goal. Even if you have a vision or a good idea, it's useless without discipline. If you want to execute effectively, you need discipline. For example, you and your team wanted to create a business plan to attract investors. You had lots of ideas for the business plan, but there was no discipline in place to ensure the presentation was rehearsed. When it came time to present the proposal, you were not able to properly communicate your objective to the investors. This resulted in the investors declining your proposal. To be a good leader, you need to be self-disciplined and make sure others on your team are disciplined.

Constant Learning
"Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other," said John F. Kennedy. When things are changing rapidly, it is important to constantly learn and challenge yourself.

Know How to Delegate
"The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint to keep from meddling with them while they do it," said Theodore Roosevelt. A successful leader won't micro-manage. Delegate work to your employees and let them feel empowered. If you do this, they will feel more involved and have more opportunity to develop new skills. Delegating will allow you to better concentrate on the goals you need to achieve yourself. If you are a project leader, you are still responsible for the work in the end. This is why it is important to oversee the project when delegating.

Handling Conflicts
Leaders have to know how to handle difficult people and resolve conflicts. If an employee doesn't work to the best of his or her ability and brings a negative attitude to work, leaders have to step up and talk to that person in private. Leaders have to be honest and straight to the point. This requires a lot of courage. It is not easy to point out a problem or fire someone. Always listen to the employee's side of the story before you reach a conclusion.

Be a Follower
Leaders should learn to recognize the value of team members, learn from them and encourage other team members to learn from them. Learn things that you didn't know from a person who specializes in that area.

The Bottom Line
Good leadership skills are essential to career development. "The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority," said Ken Blanchard. If you want to improve your leadership skills, think about what actions you can take to be more influential. If you are already a leader, think about how you can influence others.

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