Six Ways Leadership Starts with You

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What’s behind every great leader, and every great leadership story?

Turns out, leadership is a two-way street.

Leadership lessonsEmployees can actually train their bosses to be better leaders.

There are skills and leadership characteristics that many employees possess, which—if recognized by the wise boss—can help everyone to develop greater leadership skills:

1. Leadership Built on Reverse Mentoring

While it’s usually the responsibility of the manager or another authority figure to mentor employees, many times employees can teach their bosses some valuable things through a process known as reverse mentoring. Since not even a boss “knows it all,” he or she can certainly learn from employees who have different personalities, backgrounds, and experiences worth sharing.

2. Leadership Begins with Teamwork

When a boss and employees work together as a team, the observant boss can learn from watching his or her employees in action as they conduct meetings, organize projects, and achieve goals. In addition, employees who know how to work well together demonstrate accountability not only to one another, but also to you as the boss, and to the company.

3. Leadership Starts with Cooperation

As employees demonstrate the willingness to cooperate and be flexible, it helps a boss to exercise more trust and less control over them. Also, many work situations require employees to “unlearn” certain things they might have done before that are unsuitable for the present job, and then learn new skills or relearn dormant ones. This is also a valuable lesson for leaders.

4. Leadership Requires Constructive Feedback

Every wise boss should seek out, accept, and implement constructive feedback from his or her employees. Doing this communicates to employees that you value their input.  Doing all three—seeking, accepting, AND implementing feedback—communicates to employees that you value their input and gives you another notch in the leadership belt.

5. Leadership is Based on Complementary Qualities

When employees possess qualities that are different than those their boss possesses, yet are still complementary to his or her own abilities, the boss can gain still more leadership skills. Not only that, but the company is likely to exceed goals, as employees fill in gaps in the boss’ own skill set. For instance, a leader can learn a lot about engagement by observing and listening to how employees interact with one another.

6. Leadership is Built on Shared Purpose and Vision

Employees who understand and share the company’s purpose and vision provide a strong foundation from which a boss can confidently lead. Leaders also benefit from working alongside their employees, much like in the television show, Undercover Boss, because it gives them a greater appreciation for employees and all they do.


You should note that even difficult employees can help you develop leadership skills, as you learn to be proactive and manage poor behavior, make adjustments, exercise patience, remain calm, and replace negativity with optimism.

How Is YOUR Training Going?

Do some of your employees exhibit these skills and characteristics? Have they contributed to your success as a leader in your business?

Consider it an exercise in mutual professional development and work together to create a positive, edifying workplace in which you and your employees can grow together for the success of the company.

About the author:  Among her large volume of articles, K’Lee Banks has covered a wide range of business and entrepreneurship topics.

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