engaging leadership, employee engagement, occupational psychologist, occupational psychology consultancy, leadership development

Nigel McPolin
Organisational Psychologist, etimes2 ltd

Do you want to improve your career where you work?  Whether that is moving up the management ladder, stepping onto the ladder for the first time or becoming recognised as a technical expert?  But, you are not sure if developing your leadership skills is really that important?

You maybe feel that you are really good at your job and wonder if that is enough to win you a promotion where you work.  Or a better job elsewhere.  Is technical expertise enough?

In most current workplaces, you will find that your technical skills will only take you so far.  You can’t rely on technical skills to provide you with a successful career.  You will need to develop soft leadership skills as well.

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“But, I don’t want to be a manager!!”

I hear you.  Many people want to find ways of progressing as an expert in their chosen profession.  They don’t want to be forced into a management role in order to progress.  Many organisations have realised this and are working to provide ‘technical expert’ promotion pathways.

It makes little difference, though.  Even becoming a ‘technical expert’ will not remove you from situations where you find yourself leading others.  In fact, consider this – those people on the technical expert pathway who more easily build relationships and influence others will be more successful than those who don’t develop these skills.

Technical experts will still need to build relationships, communicate their work and influence others’ decisions.  They will also need to lead projects and keep project team members engaged and motivated.

Bottom line – soft leadership skills are vital for all career progression.

Engaging Leadership Skills

The reason why you need well developed soft skills for all career progression is partly down to the emphasis now placed on employee engagement.  Business owners and senior managers are now acutely aware of the business benefits offered by an engaged workforce.

They are also acutely aware of the impact every line manager and project leader can have on the engagement of their teams.  In fact, soft skills development is the top priority for business owners and executives in 2018.  They are looking for soft skills such as communication, influencing, relationship building and authenticity in all relevant appointments and promotions.  Not just formal management positions.

The potential negative impact of disengaging employees through poor communication is simply too expensive for employers to ignore.

So, you now know that soft skills will underpin most successful careers from this point forward.  Where do you start to develop these skills?

Leadership Skills Development: 4 Essential Skills That Will Kick-Start Your Career

There are many soft-skills that I could include here and many of you would certainly replace some of my list with your own suggested key skills.  That is OK.  Here is my list of how you can get started:

  1. Authenticity

Authentic leaders are self-aware, genuine and willing to adapt and change.  Make some time every day, say 15 minutes, to reflect on each day’s events and consider the strengths and weaknesses of your approach.  For example, were you aware of your own behaviour?  Do you understand its impact on others?  Were you able to be yourself?  Or, did you feel under pressure to behave in a certain way?

  1. Build Trust

Trust is the bedrock of great leaders and great teams.  Build trust with those around you by actively seeking feedback on how you work with others (or how you lead if you are already in a leadership position).  You can start by focusing on an area you are willing to change.  Chat to the feedback providers about the value you gained from the process.

  1. Involving Others

Whether you are in a leadership position or not, you can practise involving others in work you are doing.  It is highly unlikely that you are always a ‘lone wolf’.  Invite the opinions of others in any project team you are part of, particularly in areas of your expertise.  Discuss and gain understanding of their perspective.

  1. Be Consistent

Consistency is the key to engaging leadership. Few will engage with a leader who blows hot and cold Reflect on how you have responded to situations and other people recently.  Consider a range of situations and people, including some you find stressful.  Make a list with a brief description of the situation, your response and the outcome.  Create a personal strategy to be more consistent, particularly in challenging situations.

What actions are you prepared to take to future proof your career?  Leadership skills are essential to so many careers.  Not going to rely just on your technical skills, are you?  Click here to see how you can develop your leadership skills.

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