Ever thought of asking or finding out from different people what their opinion could be regarding the question of what contributes to the making of effective leadership? You are most likely to get different views from each person you ask this question. Well, that is because different people have different ideas on what leadership qualities, leadership skills, and leadership characteristics are important in leadership development across different leadership roles.
Some of the opinions from different people can be wrong, but some could be right. Regardless of what individual people think of leadership and what it takes to improve personal leadership, there are proven activities that you can apply to improve your leadership style and qualities. Your leadership ability is largely determined by the extent to which you are determined to go to achieve transformational leadership status. This article presents some of the proven activities you can practice to perfectly improve your leadership qualities.
Why Are Leadership Activities So Important?
Whether you are already an established leader or a potential leader, leadership activities are a valuable part of improving the qualities that make a great leader. Some of these activities can be so simple and commonplace as you will discover in this article, but they will make such a huge difference in your leadership style.
Leadership activities give you the best opportunity to test your qualities and quickly identify the areas that need improvement. Some activities will naturally improve your leadership qualities and those of your team members just by virtue of practicing them.
Most of these activities can be performed individually but some require more than one participant to make sense. You will notice that these activities are very close to the daily drills that sports teams practice in their daily routine to prepare for competitions. Like in competitive sports, the business landscape is equally driven by competition. So you constantly need to think like a sports person, because you are always in a race to keep your competition in check. The activities include both mental and physical engagements, all aimed at helping you to become a strong leader that will steer your organization to high levels of success.
Let’s now look at the various leadership activity practices you can use to improve your leadership qualities as a person, as a team, and overall as an organization. Even your organization can be a leader in your field.
1. Inspire teams
Great leaders and those who aspire to be great leaders have one thing in common: They all have the ability to inspire, influence other people to push limits, and go the extra mile to meet goals. To be an effective leader, you ought to be able to whip your followers by using charismatic and effective communication.
This quality comes in handy especially during the times when the organization is going through a rough patch. This is the period when employees in particular tend to lose hope as the future of their career looks uncertain. Some will lose focus and ambition. But as a leader, you should not join your followers in misery. Instead, you should step up and use an effective communication style to not only motivate but also instill a sense of hope plus direction for your team.
There is a wide range of activities you can use for inspirational and motivational purposes. Here are some quick examples to get you started.
Delegate some tasks
Delegation is like the hidden fuel that powers motivation. When you delegate your tasks to your colleagues as a leader, you motivate them by virtue of giving them a chance to handle your tasks. This gesture alone communicates to your delegates that you trust in their abilities to get your tasks done. Sometimes it is more about the gesture than even the task though of course, the task has to be accomplished.
When done effectively, delegation is a symbol of respect for your team members. Remember to carefully choose whom to delegate what to. Analyze the qualities, attitudes, and skills of each individual in your delegation list. Examples of responsibilities you can delegate include usual tasks broken into smaller items. Put one individual in charge and observe how they perform. Another good example is taking charge of a meeting. When conducting meetings, appoint someone from the attending team to chair some aspects of the meeting. Of course, you will still be in charge overall, so the delegation is purely for motivational purposes.
The benefits of the delegation are two way. As the person delegating, you benefit by ticking some tasks off your schedule, and most importantly, you get the perfect chance to improve your leadership qualities. The delegatee on the other hand receives important lessons on leadership, which contributes to their overall career development.
Persistence is one of those nice words that many of us love to use, but the reality is that it is difficult to achieve persistence at personal level especially when faced with those tough conditions that feel like they can break you. Many, by nature, lack the mental capacity to persevere through tough periods.
If you can manage to instill persistence within yourself and be able to practice it successfully when the moment calls for persistence, then you will have conquered one of the most important aspects of inspiration. Inspire persistence in your team by demonstrating that you are capable of persevering through difficult circumstances. Lead by example and utilize resources such as books and leadership programs focused on nurturing resilient leaders.
In this leadership activity, participants are required to come up with a set number of questions directed at the group. The questions can be about anything, but manageable enough to find answers easily. For example, “Who is the most confident in this group?”Give a few minutes for each participant to compile their questions in a notebook. Then give a chance for everyone to ask their questions.
Count how many participants raise their hands in readiness to answer each question and record this number as points. For instance, if participant A’s first question is “Who has brown eyes” and attracts 3 persons raising up their hands, these are counted as three points for participant A. If their second question attracts 4 hands, their total number of points rise to 7, etc. When all the asking is done, the participant with the highest number of points i.e the one who has the highest number of participants who were willing to answer their questions is declared the winner of this activity. This leadership activity is ideal for relieving tension, developing interpersonal communication, encouraging discussion, and creating a sense of connection between team members.
This activity is a great way to relieve tension especially when you are dealing with persons who do not know each other well or are meeting for the first time. If you are a participant in such an activity, be sure to be proactive and utilize the moment to the maximum to interact with everyone in the group. It helps you to improve and grow towards becoming a strong leader who does not tense whenever in the presence of new people. Influential leaders are good at mingling with other equally successful leaders.
3. Quick memory activities
This activity is best practiced in a group of at least two people. The more the better because many people create a warm, infectious vibe that creates a feeling of inspiration. But worry not if you are not able to find as many people as possible to practice.
So, the concept is to jog your memory and recall things that happened a long time ago. Let each participant take about 5 minutes to think about the most memorable moments they have ever experienced in their lives. The moment could be about any occasion in your professional or personal life. It has to be something that you will be comfortable sharing with the group though.
Once each participant has a good idea of the moment they can vividly share, let everyone squeeze that particular moment into 30 seconds worth of sharing. Now is sharing time, 30 seconds per person. This activity helps you to learn about others and bond through experiences. It also helps you to learn from others’ lessons, a key step towards developing transformation leaders. An effective leader is one who carries a wealth of experience and lessons and what a better way to get this from others.
4. Learn to listen
If you are thinking of becoming a future leader then one of the activities you need to start practicing immediately is the art of listening. Communication forms a huge part of effective leadership, from presenting, talking to people to writing. No wonder one of the qualities of a bad leader is poor communication skills and poor listening skills.
When you listen, you get an accurate feel of people’s needs as well as a sense of what needs to be done to attend to their needs. Whether it is employees, customers, or even in your family, people express their needs through communication in all its different versions. Listening simplifies even the most complex of situations, giving you a clear picture of what is possible and what is not.
The other great advantage of listening is that it reassures everyone on the team. When listening, please be keen, maintain eye contact, and apply all your mind to the moment. Reduce distractions, probe for more insights and observe body language.
5. Engage in constant learning
Effective leaders never stop learning. Indeed learning is the fuel that will power your leadership qualities to high levels. Because things change fast both in life and in business, every true leader has an obligation to learn.
It is only through learning that you are able to handle today’s landscape plus all the challenges that come with it. Yesterday’s solutions might not work for today’s problems while yesterday’s knowledge might not be sufficient to produce the correct results today.
Learning is not only limited to classroom knowledge. It is also about learning from others including the leaders or team members below your level, your colleagues, family, and friends. There is always something to learn from others and this will go a long way in helping you to improve your leadership qualities.
6. Embrace Innovation
Innovation is one area that you need to be constantly engaged in if you want to improve your qualities as a leader. Without innovation, the competitive business environment will leave you behind. Leaders can be easily stuck in doing things the same way, every day without taking cognizant of the fast-changing business landscape.
Innovation starts at the top through consistent innovative activities that create a culture of innovation within your organization. When practiced well, innovation will provide a great chance to constantly change up things, implement new approaches and stay ahead of the competition. The best way to get this done is by establishing a sustainable workplace culture change where everyone feels that change is a good thing and not something they are forced to do. Create an ecosystem where change is embraced by your team as something cool to try. Make it feel safe, easy, and attractive.
In the course of innovation activities, be sure to record constructive feedback as you employ critical thinking based on your current position. Honest feedback should in turn help you to streamline all innovative activities for a better outcome. Utilize the most critical feedback to fill existing gaps and develop better skills.
7. Practice being a role model
Taking up the position of a role model is one of those leadership activities that will really help you to improve your skills and qualities as a strong, transformational leader. Strong leaders are shaped by showing others what it means to be a good leader. The more you are willing to be a worthy role model, the more you are most likely to grow to the peak of leadership. Create a culture where your followers or team members admire your characteristics and approach to your work. Even if it means you are not yet a leader in the formal sense, your team members can still view you as a default leader just by the way you go about your roles. Most people love to emulate those who exhibit inspirational and transformative habits.
Leadership experts observe that role models inculcate a certain belief among others, and transmit optimism along the way. By consistently taking up the responsibility of a committed role model, your leadership qualities will improve steadily and catapult you to an eminent leader within your ecosystem over a period of time.
Leadership demands a lot of flexibility. But flexibility will never happen by itself without practice. You need to engage in activities that teach you to be naturally flexible. This will require you to be willing to be open to suggestions, especially those that challenge your beliefs.
To develop your ability to be flexible across different environments as the situation might demand, take part in activities such as sports, debates, and community projects. Some of these activities might not look like they are anything related to leadership, but they will go a long way to instill flexibility in your leadership style.
Some of the activities you can practice to improve your flexibility include;
The importance of sports can never be overestimated. The beauty of sports lies in its ability to provide an environment where teamwork is embraced to very high levels. When you train yourself to do things within a team setup, you train your mind to be flexible and open to taking in other people’s ideas. Sports train you to understand that your ideas, opinions, methods, tactics, approaches, and style might be good but not the best always.
Take time to explore other cultures through interactions with people from completely different cultures from yours. You will be amazed to discover completely different beliefs, different ways of living, thinking, working, and socialization. Some cultural experiences might place you in an uncomfortable position but will train your mind to master the fact that people are wired differently based on their cultures. Some persons can be so attached to their cultures that you simply have to go out of your way to strike a resonance. Otherwise, they might never listen to you and your leadership approaches might never work on them.
The workplace, for example, is filled with people from all walks of life. As a leader, your work is to be so flexible that you are able to bring all the cultures together and channel the strength of diversity towards a work culture where everyone marches in unison towards achieving the organization’s goals.
9. Practice discipline
An effective leader is also effective in discipline, i.e the leader ought to be disciplined. It is very difficult to meet the set organizational goals without serious discipline among leaders especially at the very top of the organizational echelons.
People across your private and professional life will judge you based on how disciplined you are. But what is discipline really? Discipline is the ability to live up to expectations. For example, if you are expected in a meeting at 2:00 PM, discipline dictates that you arrive slightly before this time. This is proper time management. If some team members are expecting you to send out a particular communication by a given day or date, then discipline calls for you to do exactly that without excuse.
Meet work deadlines, start meetings on time, respect appointments, and deliver on commitments or simply put, keep your word. If you are naturally indisciplined on some of these items, then you have some good work ahead of you. The good news is that any bad habit can be changed for the better. Start slowly and move gradually towards attaining high levels of discipline.
10. Challenge yourself to do more work
You can easily improve your leadership qualities by taking on more work. This will prepare you to take up demanding leadership roles that definitely come with more work, more commitments, and more engagements.
Of course, we are not proposing in any way that you need to overwork yourself just so you can improve your leadership qualities, far from it. The concept here is to try as much as possible and challenge yourself to do more work whenever you can manage. This means you must be free and be in the right frame of mind to take in more than your normal assignments or roles.
You can practice this activity by volunteering in other team members’ projects that you find exciting, taking up volunteer roles within your community, or participating in environmental initiatives. This approach will help you learn to work under pressure, get accustomed to multitasking and grow along the way. It is all about getting out of your comfort zone and exposing your mind to more skills. You will get noticed, but most importantly you will learn a lot and become a better leader.
As you might have discovered, improving your leadership qualities is a combination of so many activities. The activities can be so comprehensive that it will be imaginably impossible to exhaust them all. This list therefore should serve as a guide to open your mind to the various initiatives you can take up as part of your journey towards becoming a better, stronger leader over time.
Get started with these 10 activities, measure your progress, make changes where necessary, adjust as much as possible where need be. Above all remain consistent because nothing of note can be achieved without working persistently on these activities. Of course, you might find it difficult to create enough time to practice all these activities. You can maneuver this challenge of time by scheduling the activities in advance and spreading them over a reasonable period of time.
Feel free to share your lessons or experience with some of these activities if you are already accustomed to some of them. Please share to help a fellow leader if you enjoyed the article.