Applying Leadership Skills To Your Next Career Step

by | Apr 20, 2020 | Career Advice | 0 comments

During the current Covid-19 pandemic, several articles praising the leadership skills of people with different careers in economy and political areas are published. For example, Forbes has published an article on the countries led by women, who have shown so far the best response to the virus.

But not only was the focus set on women leaders and their emphatic responses and actions in light of the current virus crisis. Another article by Harvard Business Review has shed some light on good leadership skills from Jacinda Arden, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, and Adam Silver, the commissioner of the National Basketball Association.

Reading these articles, it dawned on me that leadership skills do not only apply to leaders and how they lead during a crisis. Leadership skills can equally be applied to each and every one of us when “leading” our own careers.

So, how can you lead your career like one of these successful leaders?

Jacinda Ardern and Adam Silver are both great leaders, who were able to grasp the pandemic in the early days. They have been decisive, clear in their action and have shown compassion for their people. Let’s have a closer look at these leadership skills and how we can apply them to our own career.


Deciding fast

When faced with ambiguous threats, people tend to wait for more information and clarity before making a decision. However, not being decisive leads to wasting time that could be vital. Therefore, it is important to take decision and revisit them on an ongoing basis. Simultaneously, it is important to acknowledge that mistakes can happen and to correct the course if necessary. Consequently, making decision puts one in control of the situation.

The same applies to your career. In control means, being able to decide fast on opportunities that arise without needing to wait for more clarity. In other words, if you are clear about your careers values, vision and goals, you are in control. This allows you to make the right decisions when you are faced with opportunities. Even if you don’t have all information, yet. Referencing back to the article, these leaders jumped ahead, taking decision without having all the information, adjusted the course when required and were therefore able to take control.


A clear plan to share

Whenever Arden and Silver communicated to the people, they were transparent about the plan and shared it as detailed as possible and needed. As New Zealand’s Primes Minister Jacinda Ardens actions showed, she transparently communicated the plan and yield the support by being honest. People were clear, what is coming and not taken by surprise when drastic measures were taken.

Accordingly, having a clear plan on how you want to build and lead your career is of great advantage. Even more important is to share this plan with your current or future employer. Your transparency and ability to display a great sense of sharing will allow your superior not only to trust your actions, but also to put you forward when opportunities arise.


Taking actions to missteps

Nobody is perfect! So even a leader will encounter failure and have to deal with problems that arise based on their decisions. More importantly, however, is the way a leader reacts to such missteps and takes corrective measures. Even Adam Silver had to deal with criticism, which he publicly accepted as valid.

In your career, you don’t need to go as far as going public with missteps. Still, showing that you have had missteps in your career and making them known, will help you to showcase to future employers or superiors how you dealt with difficult situations. The way you react to a missteps, shows a lot more competency such as problem-solving than trying to avoid them. Remain focused on your goals and vision rather than becoming defensive or blaming yourself for the misstep.


Engage and update

The pandemic brought every day new findings, problems and updates. This made it difficult to stay always on course. Leaders had to adjust almost daily and had to learn fast, how new information can impact their decisions. Not only was it for them important to update constantly to stay informed. They were also reaching out to advisors seeking their opinion to find the best response.

The same is valid for your career. Although you might not need to engage and update on a daily basis. Changes to your personal life, for instance, might required that you change the course of your career. And this is perfectly fine! Find yourself a mentor, an advisor, a colleague or a superior who is able to provide you a different perspective to your situation. Seek opinions and expertise from others helping you to deal with the new information or situation.

Finding the right people to provide you guidance and advise might not always be easy. You might want to check out our newly set up Mentor Matching program here to get support.


It starts with you 

Being a great leader starts with you! Leading your own career will help you develop leadership skills that will be required once you want to lead a team or even your own company. But most of all, leadership means to never loose sight of your values, vision and goals. 


This post was written as part of the event “Navigating your career in the Age of AI”, which took place on the 31st of August 2023 in collaboration with digitalswitzerland, LzLabs and Singapore Global Network.

Find all the upcoming events on our Events page or sign up now for our #wetechtogether newsletter to never miss an event again!

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