The Hardest and Easiest Things to Learn as a Leader

June 23, 2022

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Overview: Whether leadership skills are easy or difficult to learn is relative. Some leaders master leadership skills in stride, while others struggle. Subtle skills like trusting yourself and learning to treat your team members as equals are more difficult to develop. Leadership coaching can help leaders learn these skills and put them into practice. 

Defining leadership skills as hard and easy is an exercise in futility. Talented, leadership-inclined people may find some skills easy to learn and put into practice. Others, whose proclivities may not include leading and inspiring others, may find it impossible to implement those same skills. 

Must-have skills like strategic thinking, good communication, persuasion, and change management are elementary competencies without which one cannot be an effective leader. From the perspective of leadership coaching, there are no desirable or less desirable leadership skills. The inner and outer-core leadership competencies exist in a permanent interdependency. 

Some leadership competencies may be more subtle than others. Thus, they may seem more difficult to master. 

Trusting Yourself

Leadership coaching is about helping people reach their full potential. For many leaders, that translates to learning how to deal with their self-trust issues. 

Trust is one of the cornerstones of intelligent leadership. Within this context, trust exerts multidirectional effects. Leaders must trust themselves to make confident decisions. They must build trust with their peers and employees to inspire, empower, and engage. 

Trust manifests its empowering effects on three levels:

  • In the larger context of an organization, trust governs corporate communication, external and internal changes, and bureaucracy. 
  • Within the more intimate confines of the team, trust impacts leaders’ interactions with different personalities and performers. Trust also has a hand in how leaders deal with issues related to fairness. 
  • The intrapersonal aspects of trust are at the source of everything. Self-trust defines and is defined by self-awareness, instincts, and trusting others. 

Since it sits at the source of all trust-related matters, self-trust has a far-reaching influence on many leadership competencies. 

Inadequate self-trust causes anxiety and a tendency to stay in one’s comfort zone and avoid change. 

Self-trust is incredibly difficult to master as it’s not a static quantity. Trusting yourself is a lifelong exercise in maturity, optimism, self-awareness, and effective introspection. 

Treating Your Team Members as Equals

Many leaders find it natural to take charge of their surroundings and dominate conversations one way or another. If they are present, they are always in charge. 

Executive coaching focuses on a third leadership mode: being present primarily as a resource, similarly to all the other participants at the meeting. In this mode, the leaders are the equals of others at the table looking to contribute their knowledge without grabbing the reins of the conversation. 

Group having a discussion.
Great leaders participate without taking control.

Here’s how executive coaching can help you develop this leadership skill:

  • Executive coaches tell leaders to start with small subjects that don’t arouse much passion. This can help set the mood. 
  • Leaders can relinquish direct control by putting someone else in charge of a meeting. The key here is to hand off the reins without telling the chosen person how to handle the session. 
  • Leaders should attend meetings from the beginning to the end, even if it grows boring. By being there, they signal to everyone involved the importance of the meeting. Their presence lends additional weight to the efforts of the temporary leader. 
  • Active participation on the part of the leader is a must. You are not there to supervise what your reports discuss. You are there to act as a resource and contribute whenever appropriate and necessary. 
  • Controlling leaders tend to deliver reminders of their authority at the end of meetings in the form of “mopping up.” Resist the temptation to summarize the meeting. 
  • Sometimes during the meeting, participants expect you to jump in. The group may express its desire to have you take over the session through awkward silence. Resist the temptation to break the silence and allow the appointed leader of the meeting to handle the situation. 

Leadership is never easy. From learning to provide relevant feedback to delegating tasks effectively, it is an ongoing challenge, even for the most successful leaders. 

Leadership coaching helps leaders navigate these challenges. Find out how coaching can help you ensure the future success of your organization.

To learn more about how you can join the IL Movement as a coach, or how you can benefit from bringing IL Solutions to your organization, contact us today

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