There’s a saying that goes something like “any good leader is only as good as the team around them,” so it’s no surprise that I’m proud of my reputation as an innovative and passionate leader, and even prouder of the team I have developed, who help drive my business success.

With a background in law, I’ve since built a number of businesses both in Australia, as well as overseas, in sales, education and property development, reaching across industries as diverse as government, business, philanthropic and academia.

My latest project draws on my passion for education; and has seen our team working with some of the world’s most successful leaders in a world-class online tertiary education program, Ducere.

I credit much of my success to developing and encouraging my team; working together to achieve inspirational goals that once might have seemed impossible.

Here I share my top tips for developing your leadership skills.

1. Self examination

It’s important to take the time to do some self-examination of your current skills; analysing what you excel at and what could you do better.

Ask some simple questions: are you a good listener? Do you help others grow and develop? Do you think outside of the square? Are you willing to take risks? Are you good at thanking and appreciating those around you?

Once you’ve answered these questions, you’ll be able to identify where your strengths and weaknesses are, and develop a plan to start working on the gaps and increasing the good!

2. Step up

Instead of waiting for your boss to assign you tasks, put up your hand and take a leap! If they don’t know that you’re looking to stretch yourself, it’s likely they will continue to give you the same things they know you can achieve.

Don’t sit in meetings and contribute the same old thing over and over again; seek opportunities to be involved and active with different projects and always be sure to speak up about that great idea, even if it is a little extravagant.

Not every opportunity will be an overwhelming success, but there will be an opportunity for you to learn new skills, meet new people and gain insight into other areas of your business.

3. Constructive communication

There’s no such thing as a good leader who doesn’t communicate well. Dedicating time to both the listening and the speaking part will ensure you are a leader that your team looks up to and aspires to be like.

Clear and constructive communication allows for understanding, engagement, and breaking down of barriers. It also fosters an environment of feedback and development.

There are some simple tips that you can easily put into action to improve your skills; avoid closed questions, rushing your time with your team or providing defensive answers.

Instead, seek to listen to your staff and peers, and engage them in lively conversation, nurturing their ideas and opinions. Get to know them and seek their feedback. Try to be accepting of different opinions, and be genuinely interested in what others share with you.

By actively listening and engaging in constructive conversation, you will be fostering a culture of acceptance and success.

4. Delegation is king

Lindsay Fox, one of Ducere Global Faculty, once famously said, “Prime Minister Kevin Rudd could take a leaf out of Jesus Christ’s unwritten book of management and delegate some authority to his disciples”.

While it maybe slightly left of centre, these words are ones to live by when it comes to succeeding in leadership! By avoiding micro-management, putting trust in your team and delegating work when you can, you will help your team to feel empowered, grow and develop new skills.

At the same time, delegating tasks will allow you to concentrate fully on your own work and give you the opportunity to take on new projects and set bigger goals, in turn developing your own skills and career.

5. Following doesn’t make you less of a leader

A crucial skill of a good leader is the ability to recognise good people around them, who are well versed about certain topics and can add value to the business! Take the time to learn from your team, and when the opportunity arises, encourage them to learn from each other as well.

Sometimes it’s ok to follow along; observing and listening those who go before you with more experience. Investigate a mentor, or simply make the time for informal catch-ups with those from other specialties.

It’s been said that leadership and learning go hand in hand, so taking every opportunity to increase your knowledge and challenge yourself with new things is a crucial skill to develop in building your leadership talents.

Mat Jacobson
BY Mat Jacobson ON 11 December 2013
Mat Jacobson is the founder of Ducere, a global education company delivering the world’s most innovative business courses online. He is also the founder of the Ducere Foundation, working with African governments to improve the quality of education in third world countries.