Developing leadership skills in an entry-level position is a challenge, but with the right mindset, anyone can do it. You may feel like it's impossible to become a leader when you're at the bottom of the ladder, but finding ways to exhibit leadership traits while you're starting out could be vital to your career advancement.
According to Brandon Hall's State of Leadership, 10,000 baby boomers retire every day, and 67 percent of millennials are looking for a new job. What does this mean? In a broad sense, it means that more leadership positions are coming open, and that organizations don't know exactly how those positions are going to be filled.
"In my opinion, everyone has the ability to lead, but not everyone has the desire or work ethic to actually become one – it's not always about natural-born ability," says Ross Arneberg, Senior Recruiting Manager for Beacon Hill's Technologies Division in Minneapolis. "A lot of it is about choice. Leaders are leaders a lot of times because they are either the best at what they do, the hardest working or the most driven to succeed. Sometimes they are all three. Leading by example is the best way to develop leadership skills in an entry level position as that will be a common thread for anyone in a lead role, regardless of your seniority level. You may not have fully-developed conflict resolution, motivation, and team-building skills yet, but setting the standard in terms of what other team members should be striving for in terms of work ethic, attitude, commitment to your role and company, quality of your work, etc. will naturally cause others to fall in line to try and emulate those same qualities, and will likewise give you a strong foundation and understanding of what some of the core elements of being a good and effective leader are."
Identify which areas you need to improve
The first step toward any type of personal development is to identify areas of needed improvement. According to Warwick University, you can use a three-step process to discover these facets of yourself.
Start by listing the required job skills in a column. Next create another list of the skills you currently possess. Then, compare the two. Areas that do not overlap likely indicate skills that you need to work on. Once you have this knowledge, you should locate resources that will help you grow professionally. For example, a professional recruiter can help you determine which skills are more important to practice.
Become a team player
Before you can become an effective team leader, you need to understand what it takes to be a team player. And that means going above and beyond simply following orders. Of course, being able to follow instructions is important, but there's more to working in a team. For example, members of a team should be able to support one another when it's crunch time. Understanding how you can support your fellow team members is one of the first steps toward becoming a leader.
Negativity isn't motivational. A dour leader doesn't build morale and will likely lower the productivity level of the entire team or organization. You should practice staying positive now to make it a habit. If you find yourself struggling to maintain a positive disposition at work, Lifehack recommended finding a way to leave your work at work. In other words, if you can't finish a task in one day, resolve to prioritize it for the next day, rather than attempting to complete it outside of work hours - doing so adds only more stress to your life and encroaches on your personal space. Good leaders understand the benefits of relaxation as much as they do the value of hard work.
Practice conflict resolution
No matter what rung of the ladder you happen to be on, you'll encounter conflicts at work. By practicing mediation and conflict resolution tactics now, you'll be better prepared for the future. As you strive to be a better team player, you'll inevitably run into conflict - either within your team or with other departments or clients. Practice your positive attitude, and find creative ways to solve differences between groups of people and individuals.
When you're in an entry-level position and feel like you should be making upward progress, try not to get ahead of yourself. Remember, every effective leader has to pay dues. Focus on building your skills now, and you'll be rewarded with more opportunities for career advancement in the future. At the same time, if your managers aren't recognizing your efforts, it may be time to consider what other career opportunities may be out there for you.
Now that you know how to develop your leadership skills, contact the recruiting experts at Beacon Hill Staffing Group to jump start your job search today.
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