Develop leadership skills in any job

Effective leadership doesn't have a minimum age requirement.

Develop leadership skills in any job

Leadership traits can be developed throughout your career.

Business icons like Steve Jobs, Indra Nooyi, and Jeff Bezos certainly have one thing in common: They’re great leaders. But you don’t need to be a superstar to cultivate leadership skills. In fact, you can develop and refine effective leadership skills no matter where on the ladder you stand. Moreover, when you dig into leadership examples, you'll notice no there's no minimum age requirement. “It’s never too early to step into a leadership role,” says Belinda Plutz, a career coach at New York City-based Career Mentors Inc.

Bosses and managers are always looking for employees with leadership qualities because those workers will one day be taking over the reins and building on the company’s legacy. Making these career moves will help you establish yourself as a leader in any job.

Leadership examples in action

The adage “fake it till you make” rings true when it comes to setting yourself apart from the average Joe. You can start develop your leadership qualities by adopting a few consistent behaviors. These include the following:

  • Show enthusiasm. Leaders understand that energy is contagious. Therefore, displaying a passion for what you do is crucial, according to Nancy Anderson, author of Work with Passion: How To Do What You Love For a Living.
  • Build optimism. Budding leaders motivate their co-workers. They encourage their peers to work harder, both as a team and as individuals.
  • Flex your creativity. Using your creativity muscles to improve processes at your company will make you stand out.
  • Offer solutions. Demonstrating your problem-solving abilities will allow you to shine as a leader, while also making you a more valuable employee overall, says Vicki Salemi, career expert at Monster. “Challenges inevitably arise, and employers want to see that you can troubleshoot and solve them independently,” Salemi says.
  • Be resilient. Stumbling blocks are inevitable. What matters is your ability to recover from setbacks, since great leaders can take a hit as well as a win. “Employers need workers who can lead in tough situations and not crack under pressure,” says Jodi Glickman, author of Great on the Job: What to Say, How to Say It. The Secrets of Getting Ahead.

Become a great mentor

Mentoring a junior employee will give you an opportunity to brandish effective leadership skills. Don’t forget, tough, that a great mentoring relationship is a two-way street. Indeed, your mentee can make you a better leader by helping hone your listening skills, says Rene Petrin, founder and president of Boston-based mentoring consultancy Management Mentors. Be receptive to feedback from your mentee about your leadership style.

Manage the intern pool

One way to get a crack at being a manager is to serve as the intern supervisor. Stepping into this role can “catapult your career,” says Robin Reshwan, founder of Collegial Services, a consulting and staffing firm based in Danville, California.

As the intern manager, you’ll be able to practice delivering feedback, both positive (e.g., “Great job on that report!”) and constructive (e.g., “The email you sent to Bob in IT could have been worded better. I have some pointers”), while also learning how to motivate people, which is no small thing for an aspiring leader.

Volunteer your time, in a leadership role

Doing volunteer work has a number of benefits—it gives you a sense of accomplishment, lets you give back to others, and allows you to meet new people. But it can also make you a better leader, particularly if you take on a leadership role. After all, many volunteer projects require a group effort and someone to coordinate everything, which is where you come in.

You can seek out volunteer opportunities in your community, such as working at a local food bank, a charity walk, or a neighborhood-improvement organization like Habitat For Humanity.

Pro tip: If your company has an annual volunteer day, become one of the head organizers.

Spearhead a group project

Instead of fading into the background during your next team assignment, lead the charge. “Even if there’s not an assigned leader, assume that role,” says executive coach Joel Garfinkle, author of Getting Ahead: Three Steps to Take Your Career to the Next Level. “Be the one who makes the final presentation. Be the one who updates the boss.”

Lead on

Think about how many times someone at work asks you for help and what they ask for help with, and you'll understand the may kinds of leadership examples out there. The more you realize you are a leader no matter what your current position, the more natural you'll feel in leadership roles. Could you use some more help? Join Monster for free todayAs a member, you'll can get career advice, management tips, and job search info sent right to your inbox to help you make the most of your workday. If you start cultivating your leadership skills, moving up will be much easier.