Jul 29 / Helen Bryant

Unlock Your Potential: 7 Secrets to Developing Exceptional Leadership Skills

As a leader, you're constantly perfecting the art and craft of leadership. You know that this is a constant challenge, a bit like spinning plates. You set yourself up, start the plates off, sometimes you can almost instinctively return to a spinning plate and give it a little more spin to give it momentum and balance, or occasionally miss a plate and it is suddenly lying broken on the floor. 

In this blog post, I'll share 7 secrets that will unlock your potential and help you develop exceptional leadership skills, and better spin your plates.

Secret 1: Self-Awareness – Knowing Your Strengths and Weaknesses

Self-awareness is the foundation of exceptional leadership. Take time to reflect on your strengths and weaknesses. What do you excel at? Where do you struggle? By acknowledging your weaknesses, you can actively work on them and ultimately lead to better results and a healthier work-life balance.

Secret 2: Emotional Intelligence – Understanding and Managing Emotions

Emotional intelligence plays a vital role in effective leadership. It involves understanding and managing your emotions and empathising with others. Skills that can help you are practising active listening, being empathetic, and being keen to understand a person or a situation before acting or responding.

Secret 3: Effective Communication – The Key to Building Strong Relationships

Clear and effective communication is essential for building strong relationships with your team. Tailor your communication style to individual team members' needs. Use the communication preferences that work best for you and learn the communication preferences of others to improve your influence.

Secret 4: Time Management – Reclaiming Time for Leadership

As a busy manager, time management is crucial. Prioritise tasks, delegate effectively and set boundaries to reclaim your time for strategic thinking. Use a system for managing your time and team to prevent reactive mode and make time for reflection and planning.
Everyone needs a system for managing their time and team, just as James Clear said in his book Atomic Habits, “You do not rise to the level of your goals, you fall to the level of your systems.” 
From experience, I see many managers in reactive mode and with weak time management systems. The problem with this is that if, as a leader, you are not looking ahead, who is? If this is an area of weakness for you, Id start here first in orderer to reclaim your time for leadership.

Secret 5: Influential Decision Making – Making Sound and Impactful Choices

Leadership is intertwined with decision-making. Cultivate a thoughtful and decisive approach. Seek input from your team, analyse the pros and cons, and trust your instincts. Clarify the decision-making scope when you delegate work to get the quality of work you need.

Secret 6: Coaching and Mentoring – Developing Others for Success

Exceptional leaders prioritise the growth and development of their team members. Act as a coach and mentor, offering guidance and support. Celebrate their successes and empower them to reach their full potential. 
The coaching skill set will set you apart. Coaching helps people find answers for themselves, and thus their learning is deeper and more likely to be effective. I think the GROW coaching model is an effective way of structuring and guiding your coaching conversations. This is a definite focus area if you lack confidence in coaching your team.

Secret 7: Continuous Learning and Personal Growth

Never stop learning! Commit to continuous personal growth by attending learning events, reading books, and seeking feedback. Embrace a growth mindset and encourage your team to do the same. Give yourself 15 minutes each week as part of your weekly planning to improve your leadership skills and impact in the coming week.

Focusing on unlocking your potential, embracing self-awareness, emotional intelligence, effective communication, time management, influential decision-making, coaching and mentoring, and continuous learning, you are well on your way to becoming an exceptional leader. Remember, leadership is a journey, and it's never too late to start.
I personally think the one little spoken-about secret is the little and often approach to leadership development. Consciously spend a little time spinning the plate of your own leadership development each week, this consistency will lead to long-term leadership success. So few do it, if you do, you stand out as a leader.
What are your thoughts on these seven secrets? Where do you need to focus first?

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