Who is a leader? Is it someone sitting at the high tables of administrative boards or enjoying the super executive status in a multinational organization? Or is it someone heading a family of royals? Well, the answer is pretty simple. A leader is someone who possesses leadership skills and traits. The contemporary connotation of leadership has become increasingly convoluted. The world tends to correlate leadership with numerous external factors that belittle the spectrum of leadership.
Undeniably, any ordinary person can be a leader. We have history to persuade us of this assertion. The likes of Nelson Mandela and Mother Teresa are enough to convince anyone that a leader can arise from any background, creed, or caste. However, in today’s world, mastering leadership skills has become challenging, given the rapid advancement of the world.
In today’s era, leaders have more to overcome to make their mark and be known globally. Specifically, in the business realm, achieving the title of a business leader is no cakewalk. Entrepreneurs and employees have to build essential traits and skills to convince the masses of their leadership capabilities. However, it requires persistent efforts to carve out a leader from yourself. For this purpose, this article provides business students a guide to master leadership skills.
1. Know your area of expertise
Leaders are not made by accidents. They are aware of their capabilities and talents that set them apart. For example, suppose a person possesses people skills. In that case, chances are they can lead people through the art of motivation and persuasion. As a business student, identifying and determining your area of expertise is critical to scoring leadership positions.
Similarly, if you possess analytical skills, the finance field will help you propel your career to leadership roles. However, making it to leadership positions isn’t that easy; you must possess the essential academic credentials. Given the high-tech world of today, you can conveniently achieve higher educational credentials with online resources. For instance, an MBA with accounting concentration online will help hone analytical and financial skills while preparing you for leadership roles.
Therefore, business students need to identify their interests early. It will enable them to train themselves accordingly and choose relevant academic streams to increase their field knowledge. Additionally, it will provide them the highest understanding of essential skills in that field. They will gradually become a subject expert in that specialized field since the top-notch grip will chisel the leadership skills required for that field. Therefore, knowing your niche is immensely important to develop leadership skills in that domain.
2. Take Soft Skills Seriously
According to a study by Wonderlic, a whopping 93% of employers globally stated soft skills as either ‘very important or ‘essential.’
The study showed that business graduates with better soft skills reached leadership positions quicker. The business insider lists 21 soft skills that are necessary for practicing leadership in the modern business world. It includes skills such as verbal and non-verbal communication, critical thinking, and analytical skills. However, there can be a never-ending list of different soft skills. You must identify the relevant ones for your area of specialization and work on them accordingly.
Students have a tremendous platform to mature these soft skills through practice. For example, business students should participate in group assignments and projects. They are an excellent avenue to practice teamwork and group collaboration skills.
3. Develop a Continuous Improvement Approach
The famous Japanese approach of Kaizen might have mainly been for manufacturing process improvement. Still, a leader applies it at every step of their learning. It refers to continuously improving oneself. As a business student, you are in an excellent position to do a gap analysis of your skills. Then, you must always target improvement and ways to ensure continued progress. It doesn’t mean to become skeptical of one’s achievements. It means to identify the areas that you can always work upon systematically. It motivates you to keep on increasing your skills threshold and marking your cut-off higher. Ultimately, it all contributes to continuous improvement over time. Otherwise, your skill development falls into stagnation.
According to a survey by RealityWorks, 60% of managers reported that the recent business graduates do not possess the right level of problem-solving skills. That is because students tend to stagnate their skills development at a certain level. Comparatively, a leader never stops improving. The only way to have such a stance is to develop a continuous improvement approach. Therefore, business students should adopt a positive and progressive approach to improvement. They should escalate their skillset across all spectrums with time. Additionally, they need to maintain a well-defined schedule to manage academic responsibilities and work on their extra-curricular skills.
Looking at the modern-day fierce business world, the academic tenure for any business student is grace time before a war. During this time, prepare yourself, equip yourself, and devise a strategy for your future route. Every business student should identify their area of expertise, ornate it with soft skills, and continuously improve them. They must take maximum advantage of this pre-action time. Once they enter the real world, there will be very little room for adjustment.