Before talking to you about leadership development, I’d like to start with a metaphor. Leadership is a lot like golf (I imagine —I’m not much of a golfer) in that it takes some dedicated effort and motivation to become a true star.
But like golf, or any other skill, reaching that stardom is not out of reach. It just takes effort. There are so many people that need to lead, but so few who consider taking the steps to improve their skills at leading. Just by searching for a way to improve, you are ahead of the game.
There are many tools that an aspiring leader can use to develop their fundamentals, their leadership awareness, and even some flashy new tricks:
Leadership is starting to find its way into college curricula. Unfortunately, a lot of us missed the chance to get that formal education. Luckily we have an alternative.
Leadership seminars are classes that are geared toward polishing your skills in a classroom like setting. They can vary in quality and methodology (a lot like books on the topic), but some of them can be very worthwhile. Look for one from an author or organization you trust, or better yet, one that comes with a referral.
Consider contacting your HR or Organizational Development department for recommendations. They may even help you pay for them.
We do some of our best thinking in groups. Being able to bounce ideas off one another usually makes the end result better than the sum of the parts. Leadership conferences help people who actively pursue the field of leadership share their views and hammer out best practices.
If you are professionally invested in the development of better leadership practices, possibly in training some of your own staff, these sorts of conferences can benefit your growth immensely. Leadership development conferences offer great opportunities if you can find the right people. Look into organizations that fill the right need, and review the schedule of events carefully.
Books are usually the first line of defense against leadership ignorance. But there are almost as many books as there are leadership specialties, so it’s important to identity which is the most helpful; a clinical study of leadership might be in order if you are looking to create a training program for managers, but something a little more personal could be for you if you just want some perspective for yourself.
Here are some of the different types of leadership texts:
Articles might be the most time-effective solution to your leadership questions. They are usually very focused and direct, and they address one distinct issue. If you have enough information to decide what it is exactly that you need help with, they can be the key. Leadership development has a lot to do with building a strong set of tools to solve problems, and brief articles can provide them.
In addition to be more focused, they also read quickly. This means you don’t have to pore over an entire encyclopedia on leadership to get to the point you needed to have your breakthrough, epiphany, or blinding psychotic insight (whichever term you prefer)