How to Mold Strong Leaders: 15 Lessons for Mentors
December 7, 2020
Leadership skills aren’t only for executives and entrepreneurs. Whether you’re a teen overcoming peer pressure, a professional climbing the career ladder, or a parent trying to be the best role model possible, leadership skills are the toolkit that help you achieve your goals.
That’s why it’s so important to emphasize leadership skills no matter who you’re coaching — and the reason why the Leadership Society of Arizona established its student leadership programs to teach youth the traits and skills they need to thrive. But what does teaching leadership actually look like? These resources will help you nurture leadership skills in whoever you coach.
4 Leadership Traits to Instill
Leaderships come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and ages. However, despite the diversity in leadership styles and mindsets, there are some traits that all good leaders have in common. These are the four traits that should be at the foundation of any leadership coaching.
- Courage isn’t just about taking risks, although that’s important. Persevering when things get difficult is also a hallmark of courage and a critical skill for anyone.
- Is there any trait more important than integrity? Whether you’re molding youth or coaching business executives, emphasize the importance of accountability and living according to your values.
- Vigilance goes hand-in-hand with integrity. Only with the self-awareness to reflect and improve can leaders be certain they’re on the right path.
- Openness is an underrated leadership characteristic, but it’s an important one. If a person lacks listening skills and emotional intelligence, they’ll struggle to build strong connections.
How to Foster a Leadership Mindset
A person’s mindset dictates how they behave. So, when it comes to molding leaders, mentors should start by examining their mindset. Here are three problematic mindsets that hold emerging leaders back and how you can coach towards a more effective frame of mind.
- People with fixed mindsets believe people can’t change. Coaches should promote a growth mindset, which teaches that talents, abilities, and intelligence are all malleable. Not only does this teach mentees that they can lead others to success, it shows that they can change themselves too.
- Performance mindsets focus on the approval of others instead of their own results. However, people who focus on increasing their own mastery instead of pleasing others are more persistent, adaptable, and successful. Nurture a learning mindset by emphasizing self-improvement over comparison.
- Prevention mindsets focus on solving problems and preventing losses. While this can be helpful in a crisis, the positive thinking associated with a promotion mindset is more likely to create high-performing, innovative leaders. Naming two positives for every negative is one simple exercise to foster a promotion mindset.
Communication Skills for Young Leaders
Communication is among the most important soft skills for leaders and anyone seeking success in their professional and personal life. These are the most important communication lessons to teach any leader.
- Always know your audience. Tailoring what you want to say based on who you’re speaking to builds trust to create more effective communication.
- Be direct, specific, and clear. By collecting thoughts ahead of time and communicating clearly, leaders eliminate any room for misunderstanding and frustration.
- Pay attention to non-verbal communication like facial expressions, hand gestures, and posture. These cues can make a speaker seem more or less trustworthy and confident.
- The best communicators are also good listeners. Active listening builds rapport and is the foundation of strong relationships.
4 Tips for Leading by Example
No amount of lessons will change a person’s mindset if the person coaching them fails to lead by example. Make sure you’re being an effective role model in your coaching role by following these tips for leading by example.
- Get your hands dirty. Working shoulder-to-shoulder with your charges is especially important when working with youth leaders.
- Listen before you lead. Effective leadership starts with understanding the people you’re leading. Listen, ask for feedback, and keep an open-door policy.
- Focus on solutions, not problems. Using failure as a learning opportunity shows others that failure is part of the process rather than something to fear.
- Set a high bar for yourself. Coaches who demand excellence from themselves cultivate leaders who live up to their own high standards.
It’s no easy job being in charge of developing future leaders. Leadership is complex, and the lessons leaders need to learn can’t be encapsulated in a few short words. However, by nurturing these key leadership traits and modeling strong leadership yourself, you can foster the skills needed to lead a successful life.
About the Author
This article is written by a guest contributor, Julie Morris.