Updated: Sep 15, 2019
There are skills that we need to practice as leaders, and there's a ton of them. One time I found a list of 275+ different skills that people believe leaders should have. I'm not talking about all of those skills today. However, I think there are five primary tools that we have as leaders that can help us master the myriad of skills that we need to be leaders.
The first thing to understand is that as leaders our toolset is not the same as a carpenter’s toolset. A carpenter gets physical tools: a nail, he gets a hammer and a piece of wood. Then he goes out, and he practices hammering nails into boards until he's good at it because those are physical objects. For us, there's no real physical object that we can practice with to ensure that we're a good leader.
The tools we can practice with are:
· Ears: listening.
· Mouth: speaking.
· Brain: thinking.
· Eyes: looking, watching and observing.
· Body & Face: body language
These are the only tools that we can practice with. If we can evolve and get good at using these tools it helps us develop quickly.
If we get good at observing, we see how other people are reacting to us, and we see how they're responding to other people. That gives us some knowledge. If we listen to how people are talking, it can provide us with insights. Many times people unconsciously are telling us stuff. Sometimes it's not just the words that they're saying, but it's the way they're saying it, this means that we have to listen to those nuances and understand what's really going on.
Our brain. I know it sounds funny, but the reality is we've got to be good at understanding, thinking through the nuances in situations and being able to make good decisions. Now, I'm not saying as a leader we always make all the decisions by yourself, but we better be aware that there's a decision to be made and how that would handle that. Maybe we would get advice from somebody else, or perhaps we go ahead and make the decision, but the critical piece of it is to understand and make those decisions.
The other part of mastering our brain is reflection and critical thinking. Being able to pause and reflect on what happened, how it happened and why it happened can go a long way in our personal growth.
How we speak. Making sure that the words we use are conveying the message that we want. We have to use, of course, our brain, ears, and eyes, because we need to understand what is communicated. Is what we are saying resonating with that other person? Are they getting what we're trying to convey?
We have filters. We're talking through our filter, and they're listening through their filter, and somewhere in between, things get messed up. The reason for that messed up part is our filters could be two different filters. It's our job as leaders to make sure our message is understood.
The final thing is being able to understand body language, both our own and other people. There are so many great videos about body language I recommend you study them if you are not already effectively using body language as a tool. How does somebody that we're trying to lead present themselves and can we understand what their body language is telling us?
Often these tools which we were already blessed are taken for granted and overlooked. If we start practicing with them, we will be shocked at what we will learn, and how much diversity and ability these tools give us.