7 Ways To Improve Your Leadership Strengths

Updated June 30, 2022

Hard experience, certified competence and technical skill can reflect how hard you’ve worked and how far on a career path you’ve traveled. But somewhere along the way you also will need to acquire soft skills, like critical thinking, empathy and careful listening—especially if you are assuming a leadership role. Nurturing such qualities can provide confidence and direction in your career.

In this article, we discuss how to improve leadership strengths to become more effective in a managerial role.

What are leadership strengths?

Leadership strengths help you relate with others, make productive decisions and provide effective guidance. Your professional “strengths” may include skills or qualities you have demonstrated, characteristics or social abilities. They might allow you to effectively manage a team, motivate your staff, delegate tasks and use feedback to improve over time.

Leaders should have strong interpersonal skills and other soft skills such as active listening, business storytelling and the ability to mediate conflicts. Leadership skills also include:

  • Communication 

  • Confidence

  • Decisiveness

  • Empathy

  • Good judgment

  • Honesty

  • Integrity

  • Self-assertion

How to improve your leadership strengths

It is important to take some time to identify the leadership skills or qualities you would like to develop to accomplish your career goals. Choose one or two leadership strengths to focus on over a certain amount of time. Here are some steps you can take to discover your own leadership strengths and develop them further:   

  1. Identify your leadership strengths and weaknesses.

  2. Discover your leadership style.

  3. Set realistic goals for development.

  4. Seek support from other leaders.

  5. Embrace leadership roles outside of work.

  6. Take on leadership roles at work.

  7. Practice patience.

1. Identify your leadership strengths and weaknesses

By identifying your strongest areas, you can focus on those strengths while working on your challenge areas. To do this, it can be helpful to ask a mentor or trusted colleague to discuss areas where you excel and those that could use some attention. You might also try taking personality or aptitude tests and assessments.

Another helpful thought exercise is to consider when you have received praise, promotions, awards or compliments. Are there any themes or areas you find you are consistently praised? What traits, qualities and skills helped you achieve awards or recognition?

2. Discover your leadership style

Identifying your personal leadership style can provide helpful context as you grow your leadership skills. Examples of leadership styles include democratic leadership, transformative leadership, coach-style leadership and autocratic or coercive leadership. By identifying your leadership style, you can seek opportunities that highlight your leadership strengths. You may also discover aspects of your leadership abilities that you could improve through mentor relationships, workshops or requesting feedback from coworkers.

Different leadership styles may be useful in different situations or roles, depending on the context. For example, an autocratic leader might excel when your organization experiences rapid and tumultuous change, while coach-style leadership might be more effective during day-to-day operations when completing a project.

Read more: 10 Common Leadership Styles

3. Set realistic goals for development

Goals are important for developing your leadership strengths and skills. After discovering your leadership strengths and style, you can determine areas you would like to improve. You can compare your strengths to skills that you will need with your future career goals. Clear, well-developed goals give you focus and direction. They give you a way to measure your progress and see how you’re improving. Your goals need to be meaningful, realistic and achievable. Goals that are well-defined and within your capabilities can create a progress and motivation boost through repeated success.

When you set goals, make sure you define them clearly and decide when and how you’re going to work toward them. For instance, “become a better communicator” is a good goal on paper but requires specific direction. A better goal might be “complete a course on communication by working on the materials for one hour a day.” 

Read more: Setting Goals to Improve Your Career

4. Seek support from other leaders

You may have people around you who you admire as leaders and may be potential mentors. These people may be able to offer advice or to take on a mentorship role. If the person knows you personally, they may be able to offer you specific feedback on skills you can develop that may help you advance within your current organization.

Leaders may be role models. Think about people you admire from public life, and try to find out more about how they developed their leadership skills. Read books by people you look up to and search for interviews, lectures and speeches where they discuss their leadership and challenges. Write down some of the personal characteristics and attitudes that make someone a strong leader so you can emulate these, and pay particular attention to anything they’ve done that you can also do in your own life.

Another option is to join a leadership course. You can choose one that includes information on a leadership topic you would like to learn more about. In some cases, courses offer access to mentorship by experienced leaders.

Read more: The Definitive Guide to Mentorship

5. Embrace leadership roles outside of work

You can build on your strengths and increase your confidence by taking on leadership roles in your day-to-day life. For example, you could volunteer to manage a local sports team or start your own group or project. If you’re already involved in a group or activity, volunteer to run or manage it.

To feel more confident about doing this, remember that offering your support this way is often very welcome as it takes the pressure off other people in the group. One example is a parent-teacher organization at a school. Some groups, such as homeowner’s associations, have elections to determine the next president. 

This kind of leadership role provides valuable experience. Once you’re accustomed to your leadership role, you’ll be in a much better position to take on similar roles in the workplace or public life.

6. Take on leadership roles at work

A good way to develop your leadership qualities is to look for advanced roles to take on at work. Any leadership opportunity is a chance to work on your skills by experiencing what strengths you have and what strengths you can improve.

You could offer to lead a project, suggest an improvement or change you’d like to implement or ask your supervisor directly for an opportunity to gain leadership experience. Look for smaller ways to embrace leadership too, such as offering to guide new team members or offering to assist your supervisor.

7. Practice patience

Be patient as you learn and grow into your role. Try working on specific strengths or thinking about how you would lead in a particular context, such as presenting a new project or supporting a team through a big transition. Understand that you will encounter unexpected situations that present growth opportunities. Remember that patience is a leadership trait that you can nurture.


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