April 18, 2024
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Developing Leadership Skills Outside of the Workplace

When they think of leadership, some picture someone in a workplace or perhaps in politics. You might assume that you can’t develop or exhibit leadership skills yourself because you aren’t in a place professionally where you have that opportunity. However, there are many other environments where you can practice leadership; in fact, there are few where you can’t. If you want to develop these skills and use them in your everyday life, the tips below can help.

Examine Your Values

Great leadership grows out of genuine conviction in your position. That doesn’t mean believing or insisting that you’re always right. Instead, it means knowing the values that form the bedrock of who you are. You might find that building community, teaching others, or protecting the environment is very important to you. Even if you think you already know what your values are, it’s good to do some ruminating on the topic. After you really give it some thought, you may be surprised to find that either your values have shifted over the years or that the things you thought were important to you have never really been and were just adopted from friends or family members.

How do you identify your values? Think about moments in your life when you felt genuinely happy and proud as well as times when you felt when you felt the opposite. What was happening? Why did you feel that way? Consider the people or news stories as well that inspire you and ask yourself why. Knowing what makes you angry can also help you hone in on those. You’ll probably end up with a list of quite a few values, some of which might even conflict with one another. This is entirely normal, but you’ll need to decide which ones you’re going to prioritize.

Concrete Action to Create Change

Your next step should be to identify concrete leadership action you can take based on your values. This could take many different forms. If your top values are community building and protecting the environment, you might organize a local group of volunteers to clean up a part of your town each month where there is a lot of littering. If you have chosen strengthening family relationships, you might take the lead to host a holiday dinner or institute weekly family nights with your spouse and children so that you spend more quality time together.

You can take leadership actions to help a single person as well, such as acting as a mentor to someone. You could also consider whether there are things you have to offer another person that others do not have. Maybe you know a bright young student who wants to go to college but doesn’t have much support from the adults in their life. One thing that you could do for them that would be an enormous help would be cosigning on a student loan, which could help them get approved and make it possible for them to pay for college. You can research student loan cosigner requirements and consider whether you want to take this step. Keep in mind that you will be responsible for the loans if the student does not pay them.

Build Up to It

In some cases, you may currently feel you’re not ready to make the leap you’d like to as a new leader. Organizing a community clean-up crew might feel beyond you now, or, for that matter, putting together any kind of small group based on a need that you’ve identified. If this is the case, think about the skills that you need and how to get them. Volunteer organizations can be a great way to develop these skills.

On the other hand, when it comes to taking a leadership position among friends or family, you might have the skills but be up against preconceived ideas of who you are. Families in particular tend to put labels on members that it can be hard to shake off. If they’ve always thought of you as quiet or disorganized, it might be hard for them to accept that you want to step up and take more responsibility or organize events. The best strategy can be to talk to them or at least to a few key people about it and explain that you want to grow beyond those ideas they have about you.

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