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Become the Leader You’ve Always Wanted to Be

Are you thinking about setting some new goals for next year? Consider investing in your leadership skills.

What exactly is a good leader and how do you become one? Keep in mind that there’s a big difference between being “in charge” and being a leader. A good leader inspires, motivates and helps a team achieve their goals.

“At the end of the day, people want a connection to purpose and to know they provide value,” said Nibal Henderson, director of Learning & Development at New Directions, a company that provides behavioral health services to many Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan members. “This can be accomplished through a leader’s relationship with their team — a relationship that’s grounded in compassion and fueled by curiosity and a willingness to learn and grow together.”

Here are some of the key skills and attributes that define a strong leader, according to New Directions:

Coaching. Clearly define goals and set an example for your team or colleagues. Motivate others to work toward the same goals, while being supportive and honest with them.

Communication. Leaders say what they’re going to do and then follow through. Effective communication also means being an active listener when someone shares a problem or concern.

Decision-making. When it comes to problem-solving, look at all the options and listen to the suggestions of others. Don’t be afraid to take risks to push new ideas through and achieve project goals.

Assertiveness. Make it clear what’s expected of your team. Lean toward active involvement rather than passive behavior.

Leadership skills are key to advancing your career, but not everyone is a natural leader. There are many books and articles you can read and courses you can take to help improve your leadership skills and discover what leadership style works best for you.

With practice, you can become the leader you’ve always wanted to be. As John Quincy Adams, the sixth president of the U.S., said, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”

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