Being a good leader isn’t easy, but it could be what your prospective employer is looking for....

Do you think you are a good leader? It’s a question that’s hard to answer without practical experience, but you can at least look at what makes good leaders so good, and try to emulate them. Joanne Monkman from CIMA came to the University of Sheffield to talk about leadership skills and how you can show them best in interviews. When you apply for graduate roles, a company has to decide if they want to invest a lot of money in you, and they want to get as much out of the opportunity as you do. 

First of all, you need to recognise the difference between a manager and a leader. Management skills tend to be more activity orientated, where as leadership skills are more focused on motivation and inspiring people. In the Skills for Success session, we were asked to pick what we thought were the five most vital qualities for any leader to have, and say why they are so important. After this, groups had to pick just one quality, and explain why it was the most important. In the session, we came up with responsibility; a leader has to take responsibility for their actions, and at least partially for those working underneath them. Secondly, harmony is important. For a group to work well together they have to get along and respect each other, and a lot of this can be down to good leadership. If a team is motivated, and happy, they’re going to work better together. Lastly, they need a challenge. For a leader to thrive, they have to have an obstacle to overcome or a task to complete. 

To end the session, an individual exercise was suggested. Carry out a SWOT analysis of yourself (see my earlier blog post for more about SWOT analysis) as a leader, and then make an action plan to improve yourself. Find a leader you admire, be it in business, sport, or maybe even a lecturer(!) and try to emulate what you like in them. Being a leader isn’t easy, but if you really focus on what qualities you want to show you’ll be able to improve yourself, and this should really help to make you attractive to employers.

Ed (Student Ambassador for the Faculty of Science) 

We have only one more Skills for Success session left this semester. To find out more, see our What’s On Diary.
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