How Can Managers Develop Leadership Skills?

[caption id="attachment_498" align="alignleft" width="300"]How Can Managers Develop Leadership Skills? Leadership skills must be developed through experience.[/caption] If you've risen to a position of power and authority in your organization, you might be asking yourself, “How can managers develop leadership skills?” It would be nice if you could simply sit down with a book or an instructional video in order to attain the leadership skills you'll require as a manager. Even though there are some great resources available, however, you will never be able to develop adequate leadership skills through studying, reading, viewing instructional videos or attending classes. The fact of the matter is that leadership skills are developed through experience. As a manager, you cannot wait until experiences happen to you in order to develop adequate leadership skills. If you take this route, you will be stuck in a loop that never gets broken. Your team members will begrudgingly follow your direction, but they will do so only because you have a position and a job title that makes you superior to them. In other words, they follow you simply because you're the boss, not because they feel inspired by you. That's why you need to actively pursue what are commonly known as the five levels or stages of leadership, as described by author John C. Maxwell. As you pass through these levels, you will gain the experience that you require, and in doing so, you will gain the respect, admiration and enthusiasm of the people you lead.

The Laws of Supervision

I've talked and written at length about the three Laws of Supervision. When it comes to leadership and rising to a level where you're respected and followed for your experience and skill, it's vital to understand these laws:
  1. There is no such thing as employee problems – only management problems
  2. Your people will determine your future
  3. Your job security lies in your ability to perform
You will gain a certain amount of valuable experience by simply attaining a management position, but you will gain even more experience by understanding and following the Laws of Supervision. That's because these laws are all associated with the act of developing and grooming the people working under you. The next stage of leadership requires you to develop relationships with your team members so that they follow you for reasons other than your job title. Building these relationships will allow you to communicate more freely and effectively with your team, plus it will cause you to accomplish more work. Through this process, you will accumulate experience, but it's important to avoid getting stuck at this level. The next levels of leadership require you to become more active in the process of getting results. Pushing people to achieve bigger and better outcomes is the next step, but it may require you to step outside of your normal comfort zone. However, if you're able to inspire your team to achieve greater results, you will gain additional experience and confidence in your leadership abilities. People on your team and in other areas of your organization will also take notice of your ability to drive results, which will build confidence in your abilities as a leader.

Duplicate Yourself

Maxwell's next stage of leadership is the ability to duplicate yourself in others. You don't need to clone yourself to do this; you simply need to be able to teach and inspire others who have leadership potential. Through this process, you can increase productivity exponentially within your organization while maintaining a consistent managing style, even when you aren't physically present in a given situation. Once you have been able to duplicate your abilities and philosophies in others, you are ready to reach the pinnacle of management. Doing so requires you to show that you can lead and duplicate your abilities over the long term. If you can show an ability to do this, you have attained the highest level of leadership skill.

Taking the Initiative

So, how can managers develop leadership skills? I've shown you the various stages of leadership and explained what they mean, but the next steps are yours to take. Simply put, it is vital for you to gain the experience that can only be attained by rising through these levels. However, you need to push yourself forward at all times. Otherwise, you'll find yourself stuck at the first or second stage. It might take some guts for you to continue to push yourself, but it is the only way that you'll truly develop the skills to match the title you've been given. Are you ready to develop the leadership skills you'l need to manage successfully for years and years? It's up to you to meet the challenges and rise through the various stages of leadership.   How have you developed leadership skills? Are there any pieces of advice or wisdom that are helpful when it comes to rising through the various stages of leadership? Let us know what you think by dropping us a line or leaving a comment below.