How to spot and support aspiring leaders

When I started working my first experiences of leadership role models was seeing people who were exclusively focused on the task. They are strutted around without showing any concern regarding the impact of their attitude and behavior on the team reporting to them.

Sometimes I wanted to suggest ideas, but was too scared to contribute. I observed other team members looking nervous about asking for help when they didn’t understand a task. These leaders made swift decisions with little consultation. The leadership style created an atmosphere of distrust, making me anxious and demotivated. This experience delayed my first step into leadership because I did not appreciate this style. Such a style is called autocratic leadership and research shows that it can damage the team’s morale. This was exactly my experience.

Even though I was not exposed to other leadership styles in the early stages of my working life, I came to realise that leadership styles can vary significantly and that a leader could demonstrate different styles depending on the situation in which they are leading. It is often argued that good leaders adapt their style depending on context.

Through a period of reflection, research and self-analysis, I gained a greater appreciation of my own diverse skills, experience and values. More importantly, I gained a new understanding of the different leadership styles and self-analysis helped me discover my preferences.

My leadership career now spans seventeen years. This includes leading a team of career advisers in both private and public sectors and leading a team of volunteers in a public speaking organisation. I view leadership as an opportunity to collaborate with a group of people and motivate them to achieve a common goal. It is not about a position, rank or title. I adopt the transformational leadership style as my dominant leadership style because it gives me the opportunity to inspire and develop others whilst building productive relationships and using a great deal of creativity.

Regardless of a leader’s style, every leader should be able to set goals, use resources efficiently and effectively, motivate the team to achieve the shared vision and be innovative. I consider Integrity to be a key hallmark of a leader, and this involves owning your mistakes, being transparent, fair and consistent

For aspiring leader in your organisations, here are a few tips to help with their career development. I hope they will find them as beneficial as they have been for me.

Leverage Continuous Development
Continuous professional development is one of the things I enjoy most about leadership as it gives me the opportunity to enhance my knowledge and sharpen my skills. I then draw upon these competencies to motivate my team, review policy and processes and bring about innovation. It also an activity that helped me become a leader.

Learn it
Both formal and informal learning can help aspiring leader to develop. I would recommend these online resources as starting points.

  • The Chartered Management institute (managers.org.uk)
  • Future Learn (futurelearn.com)
  • Consider reading ‘What Got You here, Won’t get You There’ by Marshall Goldsmith. It provides some insight into the leadership behaviors that you might need to adopt.

Try it
To get some experience of leadership at senior level, I would suggest you consider applying for a trustee role in a charitable organisation. As a trustee, you will be part of a board and you will have legal responsibility for the management and administration of the charitable organisation. Some resources to help you explore the role of a trustee are:

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