Gaining leadership skills. Think this doesn't apply to you? Think again!

I recently attended a Skills for Success session on leadership skills run by Accenture, a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company. I wasn’t really sure how the session could be relevant to me, as when I start applying for graduate jobs I very much doubt they will be management roles. However, the session helped me to realise that leadership skills are valuable in any role.

The speaker began the session by dividing us into teams and asking us to decide what we all thought leadership actually was.  We decided leadership was not the same as management. Someone could be a manager simply because they have been given that position, but they may not have very good leadership skills. A good example of this is in the TV programme The Apprentice. Often someone is appointed as team leader, but they may not actually be the one leading the group as someone else has better expertise or leadership skills in that situation. Our definition of a leader was someone who could guide a team towards an end goal without being controlling; someone who is motivating, inspiring and influential, but also a responsible point of authority. A good leader will listen to other peoples’ ideas and make them feel valued. 

We looked at the different kinds of leaders. There is an online test you can do to see which type of leader you might be, but we didn’t have time to do this in the session. We each thought about our own personalities and where our leadership skills might lie. I decided I am good listener and quite organised, but I can struggle to get my opinions across in a large group. 

The speaker told us how important it was that we develop our leadership skills before we leave university, as having examples of situations where we have demonstrated leadership skills will be helpful in interviews. Leadership skills can be gained through part-time work or even by choosing modules which involve group work. 

The session was really helpful, not only because of what we learnt about leadership, but because it gave me more experience of team work, which will be very useful at assessment centres for graduate roles! 

Emily W (Student Blogger)
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