Leading Without Proper Training

7 tips to help you thrive in every leadership role

Let’s face it, leaders don’t always receive the training they need. Many companies are cutting leadership training programs. There are far too many leaders who feel ill-prepared when it comes to leading their teams — they simply haven’t been trained for their leadership roles, and they lack the confidence they need.

Many leaders are learning as they go, and getting frustrated along the way. Today’s business world demands leaders who can take charge immediately, yet companies are cutting corners when it comes to their most important resource—Leadership Development!

Well, whether you’ve been leading for a month or 20 years, here are 7 tips that can set you up for success in any leadership role:

  1. Seek out a Great Mentor

I’m not a fan of assigning mentors, as it doesn’t take into account the importance of the mentor/mentee relationship. Encouraging people to select mentors usually works better. When selecting a mentor, be sure to select somebody you respect and who is leading by (the right) example. If you choose wisely, they will be honored to be your mentor.

If you are new to the company and wondering who the great leaders are, simply observe who other people turn to when difficult situations arise. There are usually a handful of people who everyone else knows will resolve the problem(s). When using this method, your list of potential mentors will be short. Get to know each of them, and take your time while selecting. This little bit of homework in the selection process will be a career-changer for you!

2. Utilize your Gifts/Strengths

Every leader has unique gifts/strengths, yet few focus on utilizing them. Instead of trying to be everything to everyone, ensure you pinpoint your gifts and utilize them in your leadership role — after all, they are most likely the primary reason you are in a leadership role to begin with.

Just as important as utilizing your gifts, is establishing what your weak areas are. If you think you are highly gifted in every area of leadership, you are fooling yourself. Some leaders are outstanding with details; others may be great with people, others may be amazing at strategy. Regardless of what your weakness is, don’t try to be somebody you are not, as you will fail. Strive to be authentic; focus on your strongest areas — the skills that come naturally to you.

3. Find Your Best People

If you have held your leadership position for more than a few days, you should already know who your best people are. Get to know all of your people and what makes them “tick,” however, put extra effort into your “best” by developing them. Set all of your people up for success by utilizing their gifts/strengths. Your best people will make (or break) you, depending on how well you utilize them. Your best people will be the ones who will rise to the top; will take initiative; will take risks; will want to be challenged. Get to know what motivates your best people, and give them lots of room to “grow.”

4. Treat Your People with Respect and Dignity

Treat all your people with respect and dignity, even your difficult people. This may be challenging for even the greatest of leaders, because we naturally have the tendency to reciprocate treatment — we often treat people how they treat us. When people treat their leaders without respect, leaders need to maintain their respect and dignity, while ultimately understanding their leadership position allows them to control of the situation. You always have control of how you treat people; choose respect and dignity and you will rise above!

5. Integrity is a Must!

Leaders who lack integrity simply do not last — sooner or later, it will catch up to them. One area where many leaders struggle in displaying the utmost integrity is when they find themselves in a position where they don’t have all the answers. It can be very tough to admit you don’t know everything, however, this is when integrity is needed the most. This moment is also a perfect time to rely on the gifts of your people —where you may fall short, your people can save the day. Seek out their guidance, and don’t let your pride get in your way. Your people will admire your integrity, and appreciate you for recognizing their abilities.

6. Serve Others

Many leaders develop a “holier-than-thou” attitude when it comes to serving their people — often, they consider themselves “above” certain jobs. Don’t make this fatal mistake! Great leaders understand they must always be available for their people. The greater you serve your people, the more likely they will see how genuinely caring you are. A leadership role gives you increased responsibility and certain benefits; however, it does not give you the right to abuse your power. Serving others helps to keep you grounded so you never forget the jobs that enabled you to get where you are.

7. Personal Development

You may be thinking you can’t afford personal development; however, I would argue you can’t afford not to invest in yourself. Regardless of what level of leadership you hold, you should always be developing yourself to reach your full potential. Find a coach, attend a conference, take an online class, or read. Every dollar and every minute you invest in yourself has the potential to pay huge dividends in the long run. You are worth it!

The bottom line is many leaders do not receive the proper training they need to succeed and feel ill-prepared. However, the 7 simple tips above can help any leader at any stage in their career. Don’t try to over-complicate leadership — stick to the basics and keep it simple! Find a mentor, utilize your unique gifts and those of your people, treat your people with dignity and respect, integrity always, serve others, and continuously develop. Following these tips will allow you to thrive in every leadership role!