The business world is increasingly becoming automated and successful people are required to be independent and self-sufficient. These needs result in increasing emphasis on leadership, especially in the corporate world because the vast structure of companies does not lend itself to direct, top-down leadership and instruction. Often teams are small and independent. For example, insurance adjusters and actuaries may be in the same building but have no reason to collaborate, yet both are crucial to an insurance company’s bottom line.
Small teams where leadership can be demonstrated sounds great in theory, but if you’ve spent your career not in leadership positions, it’s awfully tough to demonstrate leadership experience. If you’ve been in a position of leadership, then reflecting that experience on a resume comes down to verbiage and expression when interviewing. The most difficult part of understanding leadership is that it’s an abstract concept and truly something where one size does not fit all.
However, leadership experience isn’t something exclusive to supervisors and managers. It’s possible to burnish your leadership skills in a variety of ways and show success that will make prospective employers take notice of your ability to be self-sufficient and manage a team.
The following are simple, effective ways to develop leadership skills appealing to potential employers.
- Organize volunteer groups: Think about your local community. Is there a field that’s overgrown or a beach needing to be cleaned up? This is the perfect opportunity to learn how to lead. Gathering a small group with a simple task is the simplest form of leadership. The key is to have specific, tangible goals (e.g. This section of beach will be rid of debris by 5 p.m.). Think of what you’re doing: setting goals and managing human capital. These are qualities employers desire!
- Enroll in leadership courses: There are plenty of online courses through various universities and other private academies that will build your leadership skills and provide documentation that you’ve completed coursework. Having these types of certifications on your resume indicates that you’re interested in professional development and ready to utilize skill sets that others applying for the same positions may not have. Furthermore, by taking courses in leadership, prospective employers note that you’re willing to put in extra time outside the office. Leaders often are tasked with going the extra mile. The fact that you’ve already gone the extra mile without being asked is also quite valuable to potential employers.
- Sign up for special assignments: At your current job, there’s always some project going on. The best way to develop leadership skills sometimes is just to go ahead and lead. When signing up for these projects such as data mining or file organizing, the opportunities to lead are endless. There are goals to be set, resources to organize, and an example to set. A great way to demonstrate leadership and value is to bring the project to completion early and under budget.
The simplicity of learning how to lead and having the ability to translate that experience are invaluable to your career. With any new skill you’re seeking to learn, the thing to do is start small. Try to lead a small team or group, and as you become increasingly proficient, the possibilities become endless.