How to develop the art of leadership
We often hear how the youth are the future of the nation, and it is very important to inculcate values and skills into the younger generation which make them stand out and lead the way in future.
What is Leadership?
Leadership is the ability to maintain cohesion, discipline and focus among a group of individuals who have come together for a common cause. From a business perspective, ‘Leadership’ is about competently managing the workforce and harnessing their potential to achieve organizational goals and vision.
To cultivate the best leaders, it is essential to impart leadership values from an early stage. In the highly dynamic 21st century society, we need to develop the various attributes of a leader in students so that they are oriented to lead the way upon their entry in the corporate world. Here are the key attributes which are necessary to become a ‘leader’ in your career and life.
Qualities of a Leader
Problem Solving: They are called leaders for a reason, and the reason is their ability to solve any problems that come in the way of organizational success. Students must be made to understand that leadership is not just about authority, but the ability to create a path for others to follow. A good business leader has to be capable of solving problems through critical thinking and smart decision making.
Communication: A leader needs to constantly, crisply and clearly communicate with his teams and outsiders. Thus, it is imperative for the students to master verbal as well as written communication skills.
Teamwork: A leader must be adaptive, dynamic and capable of working in diverse teams. There is a need to inculcate a team spirit, an ability to visualise the larger goal and work smoothly in tandem with people of different backgrounds and skill sets.
Digital Technology: This is the age of technological advancement. Today, a day can’t go by when you don’t interact with technology to carry out your daily life/work related tasks. With the evolution of machine learning, cloud and data analytics, technology is developing faster than ever, and a leader can’t afford to be lacking in digital technology. Thus, a constant learning aptitude towards digital technology and familiarisation with cutting edge tech is crucial for those aspiring to become business leaders.
Leadership: Leadership is not just about directing others on what they need to do. It is also the acumen to take the initiative and create new opportunities and chart the course for future.
Work Ethics: You can’t be a business leader if you don’t follow work ethics stoically. Students must be trained to develop social etiquette, behavioral etiquette, hygiene, gender and culture neutral behavior, honesty, punctuality and respect. It is these traits that eventually separate a highly respected leader from a follower. A business leader interacts with teams that include male as well as female workforce from diverse ethnic origins. Any kind of gender, religion or culture bias would prove detrimental to a person’s leadership abilities. Hence, we need to make the students and young trainees understand the value and benefits of equality. Behavioral traits like compassion, respect and mature handling of situations can help a leader gain acceptance among his workforce. Such traits drive unity and integrity among the workforce and loyalty towards the company as well as the leader.
Cultural integration: A leader has no religion, region, but, only purpose. Hence, the students and young trainees must be guided to let go of their biases or preferences and learn to work in a cosmopolitan environment.
Ways to Cultivate Leadership
Leadership can’t be inherited, but, it can be cultivated. There are various ways in which we can impart leadership skills among the youth.
Skill Development Exercises: An experienced leadership coach can conduct various exercises aimed at developing behavioral skills such as coordination with the team members, trust, honesty, leadership, communication, and problem solving.
Workshops: Through dedicated workshops or series of workshops conducted by an expert coach, students can be familiarized with traits and techniques that develop their leadership skills.
Presentations and guest Speeches: It is always a great idea to invite professional coaches, eminent people and business leaders to make presentations and speeches to guide the budding business leaders. Such speeches could be narrations of the challenges and breakthroughs as well as values that made a person successful.
Excursions: Excursions are another great way to cultivate various leadership skills among the youth. There could be leadership camps/retreats where students from business schools, young corporate executives and budding professionals can come together for some quality learning. The retreats are usually a healthy mix of team building, behavior development, workshops, social interactions and guest talks with scope for reflection and self-evaluation.
Leadership skills are essential to success in professional and personal lives. It is through a combination of activities and identification of core attributes that one can develop leadership skills over a period. The traits of a leader will not only prove beneficial while tackling challenging situations at work, but, also in overall improvement in life quality.
(Author Ms Samira Gupta is chief image consultant and executive coach. Views expressed here are personal.)