How to develop your management and leadership skills

Although some people might naturally be better leaders and managers than others, the good news is that even a very ordinary manager or leader can acquire the necessary skills to become a great manager or leader.  Below we will discuss a few steps that can be taken to sharpen ones leadership qualities.

Go on a course

There are a wide variety of management training courses out there. Finding one with an excellent reputation will shave years off your learning curve. If you have to choose one course only, concentrate on one that covers conflict resolution. Nearly anyone can manage during the good times. True management steel is shown when things are not going well and very often this will be caused by conflict between people.

The fact is that most of us are not ‘naturals’ when it comes to conflict resolution. These skills are not taught at school and very often are not taught at university either. The realisation that there are tried and trusted techniques to guide them through the minefields of interpersonal conflict is often an eye opener to many students.

These conflicts often happen completely unexpectedly and mishandling them can easily result in disastrous consequences. This is why learning the necessary communication skills required to resolve them is of the utmost importance.

Become a good listener

When you are a manager, everyone wants to talk to you. Your boss gives you instructions; your team approach you with their problems and suggestions and your peers always have plenty to say about how you should or could handle things. You need to develop a discerning ear that will enable you to sift what is important from what is irrelevant.

Before you decide what is irrelevant and what is important, start by assuming everything people say is important. Do not assume the receptionist is simply trying to waste your time. Give him or her your full attention; by doing so you will very often pick up a problem long before it becomes serious. Very often, your employees will come forward with really good suggestions on how to improve things around the workplace.

Of course, not giving your full attention when your boss is speaking is a time bomb. Sooner or later it will backfire in a way you might never have expected.

Know what is going on

A hands-on manager knows what is going on around the workplace. He or she should not sit in the office all day reading leadership textbooks, but rather move around and observe what is actually happening on the ground. This is the quickest way to spot potential problems long before they turn into something nasty and people tend to admire a hands-on leader with an open door policy much more than someone who is aloof and never there when they need to talk.

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