Five Ways to Enhance Your Leadership Skills

by | Apr 16, 2018 | Self-Leadership, Strategies and Tips

You can grow as a leader without formal authority. Check out our tips to help you hone your skills this summer and when you return to campus next fall!

1. Run learning experiments.
Experimentation is a key part the mindful engagement model created by Professor Sue Ashford and Dean Scott DeRue.

  • To begin, adopt a learning mindset. Think about a challenge you ’re facing in the near future, like completing a group assignment in your internship or future role. Go beyond the basic demands of the assignment and think about it as an opportunity to improve yourself.
  • Then, identify a specific area where you want to improve. An example Professor Ashford gives is being more influential.
  • Next, design experiments that will help you practice. If you’re trying to be more influential, it can be as simple as deciding you will always speak first in a discussion or practicing speaking in a louder voice. Find ways to seek feedback from others about how you’re doing.
  • Finally, reflect on what you learned. Was your experiment successful? What worked? What didn’t work? What might you do differently in your next round of practice? Are there other experiments you can run?

The mindful engagement model might be particularly useful to you as you embark on experiences this summer outside of class, such as an internship or summer job.

2. Join a leadership learning community.
Sanger offers two opportunities:

Ross Leaders Academy (RLA)
Open to juniors, seniors, and graduate students across U-M
Our capstone leadership program sponsored by Deloitte brings together 50 students from across U-M, representing all academic levels and many majors. RLA meets 10-12 times a year on Friday afternoons to deepen your self-awareness and enhance your leadership capabilities. As an RLA fellow, you’ll complete action-based learning challenges, spend time reflecting on your goals, and work toward accomplishing those goals with your team and an executive coach.

The application will be released at the beginning of the fall semester.

Leader Experience (LDRx)
Open to Michigan Ross BBAs and MBAs
LDRx is a student-led community that brings together peers in groups of 4-6. Throughout the year, your group will meet once per week and utilize a flexible, discussion-based curriculum. You’ll also periodically meet as a large group to complete fun challenges and discuss your leadership and learning goals.

The MBA application will be released in September and the BBA application will be released in December.

3. Look for a leadership role in a club (it doesn’t necessarily need to be on the executive team!)
You probably already know that helping to run a club or organization on campus is a great way to exercise your leadership skills. However, even if you are not a president or vice president, you can step into leadership roles at different times throughout the year or commit to leading informally by offering your input, encouraging others, and helping the group find its path forward.

We work with many students who step up to manage events or conferences as part of their club roles. Officers in Ross Design + Business, for example, help us build Story Lab and ensure that it runs smoothly, leading meetings, hiring vendors, and recruiting participants. They directly impact the culture of the broader Ross community by helping students “get below the surface” with one another. Net Impact members have leadership roles behind the scenes at our twice-annual Crisis Challenge, helping author the simulation and sending tweets and emails that challenge teams throughout the first night of competition.

Remember, leadership is not positional: if you’re in an organization and you have an idea, chances are, your fellow Wolverines will let you run with it!

4. Take more risks.
Without trial and error, and a bit of risk-taking, you’ll most likely remain stagnant and predictable. Risk taking is about pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone and discovering new areas of capability and strength. Being courageous is about stepping into the zone of uncertainty without letting fear of failure stop you.

What is one risk that you might be able to take in the next 30 days? You can also check out some strategies we’ve compiled.

5. Push yourself by participating in an action-based learning experience next academic year.
If you have not yet tried out Story Lab or Leadership Crisis Challenge, you’ll have another opportunity next year!

Additionally, Michigan Ross MBAs and BBAs can check out the experiences brought together under the new Ross REAL initiative.