Leadership skills are in high demand. What does it take to be an outstanding leader? What if you don't feel as confident about your leadership skills because you have doubts about your language skills? In this article, we will answer the question: "What does it take to be an outstanding leader?" and provide some tips for becoming a better leader. We will also discuss what skills make up leadership. You don't need to have the word leader in your title to show good leadership skills. You have the opportunity to show off your leadership skills from the moment you start your studies to the end of your career. Even if English is your second language and you feel less confident
In my work as an English language coach, I work with architecture professionals who work in their second language. I work across 4 categories of professionals often working across cultures and in diverse teams.
Senior Architects and Leaders;
Graduates or International Professionals working in graduate roles; and Students
As someone who works with professionals from diverse cultures I tend to look from the outside in and to look through a lens of how we can use language to communicate more effectively:
To be more inclusive
To connect team members;
To be more engaging; and
To make workflows more efficient and effective to improve productivity.
What does it take to be a great leader?
I don’t believe you need to be in a leadership position to show leadership qualities. We all have what it takes to show leadership qualities.
You have to be respected, proactive, looked up to, trusted to do good work, ask the right questions, and relied upon and creating an environment of empathy and compassion is essential.
Senior Leaders who show leadership skills
When I work with senior leaders I often work with them to improve diplomatic communication within their teams, presentation skills and breaking down and understanding technical jargon and how to make it more accessible for everyone.
Showing leadership is knowing the capabilities of the team and adapting their leadership style to suit different members of the team. If they are working in diverse teams - do they understand how cultural tendencies can impact how teams communicate?
Do senior leaders ensure that progressive meetings about design changes and handles and resolved in ways that allow the many voices coming together to be heard? In the world of construction where there are constant changes and challenges, leaders need to be able to continue to ask open questions but also try to get to the bottom of how people have understood or misunderstood something. If tools and techniques are not being implemented - instead of blaming, they make the effort to try and get to the bottom of why using decision making processes like the 5 Why’s Technique.
Associates who show leadership skills
Sometimes we need to take a risk to try something new, self-education about new tools and workflows. A vital part of this step is being able to communicate the value of introducing new tools and workflows to senior leaders in a way they understand - for example, how will new software enhance the efficiency of processes and reduce time and errors.
While having expertise in an area is important, being able to communicate this expertise in simple ways is just as important so that you can communicate with teams and sometimes across cultures and within diverse teams. This can also be difficult when English is not your first language. Perhaps you're not sure how to approach discussions with your team, perhaps you're not sure how to delegate, or perhaps you delegate more than you would like. If you want to show good leadership skills at this level and grow on your career what steps have you taken to make sure that you seek help, ask the right questions or done your research to know what you need to do to move into a role like this.
Students and Graduates who show leadership
As a student just starting out it can be easy to be bogged down and intimidated by the vast amount of technical aspects of the industry. Again, this is especially difficult when English is your second language.
Students in this situation show leadership skills when they see their knowledge gap as an opportunity to build upon their skills by finding out more, seeing gaps as opportunities to expand learning, contacting professionals and organisations who work to support their interests and being curious to know how they can bridge the gap.
Communicating with stakeholders and possibly across cultures and in diverse teams
Communicating with stakeholders is very important for any leader no matter what level you are in your role. Successfully handling stakeholder queries should be a must. Of course in teams, we are going to come up against differing opinions from time to time and we are not always going to agree. As a leader how often do we truly listen to what our colleagues and team members say? If you have a particular belief about how something should be and you’re just thinking of the next thing you want to say are you really listening.
You can show leadership no matter what tier you are on your career ladder. Don't let your doubts about English hold you back from feeling like you can't achieve what you want.
If you want to know more about how you can build your authentic leadership voice then check out my program - Build Your Authentic Leadership Voice
*This article was adapted from a video recording from the Rules of Engagement