7 Ways Entrepreneurs Can Sharpen Their Leadership Skills

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Leadership defines success for entrepreneurs. Without the ability to lead others, your business has no way forward.

Leadership isn't a trait developed through a simple course or a skill you're born with. It comes from experience, pressure, stress and downright complex decision-making. However, there are some critical skills entrepreneurs can develop over time.

To be the best leader you can be, hone your leadership skills. This ultimately benefits your business, drives growth, builds employer branding and makes your job easier.

Related: 5 Winning Habits That Will Transform Your Leadership Skills

1. Apply self-awareness to each day

Becoming self-aware is essential for a leader. If you are self-aware, you recognize how your emotions, expressions, comments and confidence affect others on the job with you.

To achieve this critical skill, get to know yourself, including what drives you, how you make decisions and how you express yourself. Then, learn to keep emotions at bay so you can use clear judgment and facts to make decisions.

2. Learn to think critically

Critical thinking enables you to make better decisions even when put on the spot — a common trait of some of today's most successful leaders. The key is that many people need help figuring out how to think like this.

When you encounter a situation, don't just spring to action. Think about what is occurring, why, and what can be done uniquely to improve the situation. Take a step back to consider before you decide.

3. Learn to listen and support others

Both listening to what others need, their views and their objections, as well as providing them with empathy and support, are critical to leading with success. If you cannot connect with your employees this way, you're missing a huge opportunity to build a better team.

To learn this skill, step back during conversations. Remove anything else from your mind, and truly listen to what someone tells you. Why are they saying this? What does this mean to them? What do they need from you? (That's the critical thinking coming out to help you!)

4. Learn to motivate other people

Leadership isn't about telling people what to do (it is, but there's much more to it than that). It's also about empowering and motivating others so that you get the very best of them in the work being done. Learning to motivate other people properly and do so effectively translates into decisive leadership (and you'll be respected, too).

Learning to motivate people can be challenging. You must know about the person since every individual has different motivating factors. Then, hone in on those factors specific to the individual to build their drive. Some people may be motivated by goals. Others may benefit from more one-on-one conversations.

Related: 12 Ways You Can Immediately Start To Motivate Your Employees

5. Learn to manage conflicts to reach a resolution

Conflicts occur because people are different — they have different thoughts, belief systems and goals. It's not always because someone is wrong. When disputes arise in your business, learn to manage them by finding a resolution rather than pointing fingers. Your goal is not to divide your employees but to bring them together to find solutions.

To achieve this, keep the lines of communication open. Talk to your employees routinely. When there is a problem, address it. Be clear and direct. Listen to all parties in the conflict before making any decision. True leaders encourage solutions that both parties can come together to agree on. At the same time, there will be times when the answer is cut and dry. You need to learn to make that decision and stay with it.

6. Be willing and ready to learn

Leadership is a skill that grows over time, but there are times when you need to step outside of your comfort zone, too. Feel free to invest in courses or one-on-one support from a mentor. Listen to a podcast to learn leadership skills. Put the time into building your skills in the field.

Leaders must be willing to learn, which often means recognizing that they sometimes need help knowing the answer. Good leaders are eager to grow and learn as time, trends, demands and people change.

7. Build experience by taking the challenge

There's no better way to gain leadership skills than to take the hard road. That's not the less-than-savvy route forward, but instead, do not hide from the more challenging tasks or more extensive, complex projects just because they're more complicated.

Instead, be willing to lead your team into the more challenging times with confidence and pride, learning as you go. Ultimately, your success in your position depends on how you perform and how your team performs in those difficult times.

By working consistently on yourself, you indirectly support your employees' growth and your company's success. Leadership develops from time, experience and a passion for helping people perform at their best.

Related: Master These 5 Leadership Skills to Increase Your Results Tenfold



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