You never know when you’ll need to become a leader, and when you do, your team needs to know they can follow your direction and trust your decisions. A strong leader effectively communicates, motivates, troubleshoots, and empowers while offering accountability when needed. These attributes make people feel secure, heard and guided (and increases productivity).

If your leadership skills aren’t where you want them to be, it’s time to seek out opportunities to learn. The more you learn, the more confident you are in an authoritative role, so use these ideas to boost your leadership cred.

Conferences

Attending a professional summit with other innovators and entrepreneurs in your niche is a rewarding experience that can inspire and educate at the same time.

If you work in a specific industry and plan to stay there, consider niche conferences that focus on one topic or industry, like marketing or HR. If you want to attend a general entrepreneur and leadership conference, Steve Farber, of The Extreme Leadership Institute, suggests seven conferences worldwide, including Grow Conference and Thrive.

Podcasts

Whether you’re the founder of a recent startup or the executive of a large corporation, there’s a podcast that shares insights on how to lead in your specific role. The best part: podcasts are easy to find and access. Spotify now offers thousands of popular podcasts for listening and various apps, like Podcast Addict, provides you access to a similar library.

When choosing something to follow or listen to, double check the host’s qualifications. He or she should be a credible expert who can offer practical strategies based on firsthand knowledge, narrative, and experience. Start with this list from iMeetCentral, a roundup of 15 leadership oriented episodes from varying podcasts.

Webinars

Webinars are a convenient way to learn from expert lectures and workshops without having to go anywhere. Simply sign up and tune in when the webinar is live—and if you can’t make the exact time and date, you can watch later when the link to the recorded webinar is emailed to you. Some of your favorite websites may offer webinars and many organizations create industry-specific webinars as well. Do a Google search to find them, or head to their website, where they’ll be listed.

Check out The Center for Creative Leadership’s schedule of upcoming webinars that you can access on-demand in your spare time as well.

Networking

Forming connections with other entrepreneurs might seem intimidating or time-consuming, but it’s essential for leaders who aspire to enhance their bandwidth. Strong relationships are often at the core of what makes leaders successful because the value of insight and feedback from trusted and reliable mentors cannot be underestimated.

“Great leaders are proactive in developing inner circles that balance like-minded individuals with those that challenge them, ultimately providing new business opportunities,” says Ted Rollins, founder and chairman of Valeo Groupe. He continues, “Find events, networking and otherwise, where you can connect with people that cross geographical, organizational and hierarchical lines, and you’ll be on your way to success.”

To find events, ask fellow leaders and co-workers and check with the local chapters of leadership and business organizations. You can also use a site like MeetUp.com, where you’ll find a wide variety of industry-specific networking events.

Mentorship

Exceptional leaders are open to taking direction and learning from other people who have found success in their fields. That’s why seeking the guidance of a mentor is beneficial for anyone interested in honing their confidence in the workplace.

Thuy and Milo Sindell, founding principals of the Skyline Group International, differentiate between mentorship, which is relationship-based, and leadership coaching, which is performance-based. The latter is what you need to grow as a leader:

“While mentors don’t lead leaders to immediate action and change, they’re still an important part of leadership development. New leaders need that guiding hand and confidant, to help them grow into better professionals,” explains the Sindells.

Start learning and leading

Confidence in what you know is often the difference between a mediocre manager and a dynamic leader, the latter of which can motivate and encourage. Focus on your professional development and use these resources to learn more about what it takes to drive productivity, engagement and business success.

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