Whatever business or sector you work in, being able to demonstrate experience and knowledge of leadership is essential to career advancement.
Employers need leaders who can inspire, motivate, set the tone and direction of the organisation, then ensure everyone works to achieve common goals.
Firstly, what is leadership and why is it important?
According to Investopedia, leadership in business is “the capacity of a company's management to set and achieve challenging goals, take fast and decisive action when needed, outperform the competition, and inspire others to perform at the highest level they can”.
Leadership is much more than one skill or activity. It is a ‘toolset’ of different knowledge, skills and activities, one or more of which can be called upon and chosen as the most appropriate in any given scenario.
Empathy and good listening, for example, enables leaders to understand how teams and individual staff feel about their work. Critical thinking, problem-solving and decision-making make things happen and help develop the objectives, goals and targets that people work towards.
Taken from his book, Future Skills: The 20 Skills and Competencies Everyone Needs to Succeed in a Digital World, and quoted in a recently Forbes article, Bernard Marr lists ‘leadership skills’ as one of the top 10 most in-demand skills for the next 20 years. For him, good leadership is “is about bringing the best out of other people and making sure they can thrive”.
The increasing complexity of corporate structures and activities, however, means that leadership skills shouldn’t just be seen as the responsibility of senior managers. Instead, they are relevant to every member of staff, whether they are leading a project, team, department, region or the entire company itself.
So, how and where can you learn more about leadership?
Read up on the subject
Reading can increase your knowledge about anything and everything. There are thousands, if not millions, of books about leadership, along with even more online blogs and articles, including many from well-known authors like Michael Hyatt, John C Maxwell and Michael McKinney or publishers such as Harvard Business Review and Forbes.
Best-selling books include: The Art of War by Sun Tzu (5th century B.C.); Primal Leadership: Realizing the Power of Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman (2002); Learning to Lead: The Journey to Leading Yourself, Leading Others, and Leading an Organization by Ron Williams with Karl Weber; Start with Why by Simon Sinek; The Effective Executive by Peter F Drucker; and The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, Developing the Leader Within You 2.0 and Leadershift, all by John C Maxwell.
Study a specialist master’s qualification
A master’s degree is one obvious way to complete additional study in a specific field or area so that you can demonstrate mastery of this field.
Leadership is a core focus of our online Global MBA, which is purposefully designed to equip you with the advanced business knowledge, interpersonal and analytical skills needed to operate at decision-making levels and lead your organisation to success.
The two-year part-time course will empower you to become a bold and visionary leader, strengthening the quality of your management across a wide range of organisations.
Within the first-year Orientation and Leadership Catalyst module, for instance, you’ll reflect on and analyse your journey so far, learning how to discover your own leadership style and unique place in the business world.
Attend a leadership conference
Attending a leadership conference is a great way to learn more about and engage in expert discussion about leadership, collaboration, and other workplace challenges.
The EntreLeadership Summit is considered one of the top executive leadership conferences. Attendees represent a variety of industries and come from companies that have between two and 200 team members. It promises to recharge your leadership, strengthen your company culture, hire and retain top talent, prioritise mental wellness, tackle your greatest challenges, and lead with confidence.
Alternatively, with online or in-person options, the Global Leadership Summit brings together global leaders, legislators, academics and NGO representatives to develop leadership skills to help create a healthier and more equitable global health ecosystem that benefits everybody’s health and wellness.
The International Leadership Association (ILA) is the largest worldwide community committed to leadership scholarship, development, and practice. Each year, it organises an Annual Global Conference and a dedicated Women and Leadership Conference, which addresses some of the many topics and challenges surrounding women in leadership positions.
Meanwhile, based in the UK, the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) organises a range of live events and webinars, including an annual International Leadership Week (ILW). The ILM is a professional body that works with and provides support to leaders and managers at all levels, offering expert tools and resources to help support and improve their leadership capabilities.
Become a reflective, transformational leader with the University of Hull's part-time and online Global MBA: