What are Leadership Skills? Good Question!
Here is a simple example...
If you had a large mean Bull that you would like to get into the barn, what do you suppose would be the best way to accomplish this? Let's also assume the Bull does not like the barn as a general rule!
Let's look at our options.
What are Leadership Skills? - Option 1
I guess we could hire it out to some fool that may know something about Bulls, but let's suppose we are broke and this is not an option. We'll throw that option out for now.
What are Leadership Skills? - Option 2
We could get a rope around the neck of the Bull and pull him into the barn. Are we strong enough to do this? How long is the rope? I did say the Bull was mean! So if we went with this plan we would need a long rope, large strong muscles, and maybe a little short in the brains department.
What are Leadership Skills? - Option 3
We could get behind the Bull and try to push him into the barn. This time we would require the same things as above except for the long rope. Let me know how it goes for you!
I don't know how much you know about Bulls but standing right behind them is not a good idea!
My vote goes to finding something the Bull likes, so that we can motivate him into the barn.
This would also be the method I would use in the work place.
It could be winning a baseball game.
You see anyone that knows about baseball can most likely show someone how to play the game. But a leader can motivate a player into wanting to do their best. Sometimes this can be done by answering the why question that most people have when we are doing something.
So lets use an example that is pretty basic. Let's say you are the manager of a housekeeper in a hospital that cleans patient beds after they are discharged. Your job is to make sure that the housekeeper cleans the beds thoroughly.
First way - Tell your housekeeper to make sure they clean the bed thoroughly and you will be back to check it in a few minutes. In this example you have provided them with specific instructions on what you want. Should be clear right. If you managed the process correctly they will accomplish the task.
Second way - Ask your housekeeper to make sure they clean the bed thoroughly to protect the next patient that will be using the bed. Let them know that if the bed is not cleaned properly, and completely disinfected, the next patient may acquire an infection and could possibly get very ill or even die. Now there is motivation! Now you not only have managed the housekeeper through the process, you are using good leadership skills by creating a reason to do the job right.
Guess what - patients enter hospitals every day and receive hospital acquired infections and do sometimes die.
You could even make it personal and ask them to assume that their loved one was going to be using that bed next!
Motivation can be positive or negative.
If you want your staff to continue working toward the goal whether you are there or not, positive motivation works better.
If you like being around holding the hammer over their heads all the time, go with the negative motivation approach. Remember the Bull? Let me know how it works out for you!
Now being able to motivate employees is not the only sign of good leadership skills, but one of the most important.
See your staff as people, not objects or tools only to get a job done. Lead them! Don't push or pull them! Remember the Bull!
So to sum up the answer "It is the ability to create a drive in someone to accomplish something."
Trying to understand exactly what are leadership skills can be a challenge if you are trying to put it into words?
Trying to understand exactly what are leadership skills can be a challenge if you are trying to put it into words. However, As we had discussed prior to this I really would like to focus on the difference between Leadership Skills vs. Management Skills to help us define what are leadership skills.
To be more specific I wanted to really focus even closer to those differences as it relates to being a parent to help better demonstrate exactly what I mean!
As many of you may already know my youngest daughter is very good at fast pitch softball. She has a 72 and 10 winning record as a pitcher and she is only thirteen years old. She has been clocked at 53 miles per hour for her fast ball and 37 for her change up.
To put that into perspective, college players have a fast ball in the sixties. Remember, she is only thirteen!
Three coaches have already approached her to play for them next year. We are still considering her options. Keep in mind that she still has a great deal to learn about the game and certainly can improve in all areas.
My wife and I have worked and dedicated ourselves to making sure that we are leading her in the right direction so that this may develop into a college scholarship of some kind in her future.
With that end in mind, how have we gone about leading her and managing her to achieve that goal? Keep in mind that it is clear this is her goal also. She absolutely loves the game and it shows in her dedication to the sport!
If my daughter was horrible at softball and never improved at some point we would have to recognize that no matter how good of a leader we were she was probably not going to receive a scholarship for playing it.
As parents we had to truly assess whether this was an achievable dream or were we just spinning our wheels in our attempt to help our daughter.
As a leader within an organization, we must continually assess our personnel and recognized their strengths and weaknesses.
Remember again that my wife and I have an emotional commitment to helping my daughter achieve her goal. We are leading her to that goal in the best way we can.
In addition, there is the management skill of time management! Truly time is one of the hardest to manage since once time is spent you can not get it back.
Before we leave this discussion in this article on leadership skills let me stress again, that one important leadership skill is the ability to recognize talent.
A true leader is able to see something in someone that they may not be able to see in themselves. This is one true sign of a leader and an important leadership skill. Then take what they see and inspire that person to utilize that talent, no matter what that talent is!
We will continue to discuss this as well as additional leadership skills vs. management skills.
Motivating and Inspiring Someone to Success!
In our last discussion of What are Leadership Skills we talked about the first leadership skill and that is recognizing talent.
In this article I want to talk about identifying a second Leadership Skill. That is the skill of building one up or inspiring someone. Of course the someone could be an individual or a group.
In our previous example we were discussing my daughter and her ability to play softball. She is a very good fast pitch softball player and is an especially good pitcher. As we had mentioned the first leadership skill is the ability to recognize talent or the strengths within someone. In my daughters case it is the ability to play softball and specifically to pitch.
Her specific desire is to not only play well but turn that talent into a college scholarship somewhere.
Our first step was recognizing that she did in fact have the talent necessary to possibly earn that scholarship through her ability to play softball.
As a leader within your organization you must be able to recognize the strengths and weaknesses of your staff. Take advantage of the strengths and understand the weaknesses.
I think of building one up or inspiring someone as providing them with fuel, almost like gas for your car. Without fuel your car will just sit and do nothing. In short it will not serve the purpose it was made for.
So in my daughters case of wanting to earn a college scholarship we as parents using
leadership skills we must inspire her to go in the right direction.
In some ways just telling her that may actually hurt your attempt to get her gong in the right direction.
Because she may get a false since of security and think that she does not need to work any harder to develop her skill more.
I do tell her that she is a very good pitcher, but I follow it up with spending the time showing her how to improve on the things she already does well.
We also spend significant time practicing together. I take this opportunity to provide her with feedback that is uplifting while corrective.
For instances while she is learning a new pitch I might say something like, "Wow once you learn this you are going to really be hard to hit off of." Or maybe, "You are really progressing a lot faster than I thought you would on this new pitch." Now keep in mind that I speak to her in a more real way that what I have stated above. After all she is my daughter and we are real people.
Just because she is doing so well does not mean she doesn't have a lot of work to do. I just want her to understand she is making progress constantly. I also want her to have a reason to keep on improving while helping her to continually see her goal.
We also talk about softball a lot. She really enjoys the subject and I must say so do 1. During our conversations we talk about different techniques and strategies she can use during a game. I always stay positive about whatever the subject is.
A manager can tell someone what to do. A leader gives them the inspiration to do it to the best of their ability.
There is no one way to inspire someone, because everyone is different. Some classes out there try to sell you on all these different techniques and some of them are good. But the bottom line is you must develop your own way after you get some good ideas. Otherwise you will come off as fake.
Remember managing is a process such as making widgets.
Leadership is finding the right person to make the widgets and inspiring them to make the best widgets on earth.
We will continue this discussion on "What are Leadership Skills?" in my next article.