Careers Advice: How to develop your leadership skills

Written by: Jason Moore
Published on: 5 Mar 2018

Leadership skills are something we have tried to demonstrate on our CV’s since we captained the school sports team, acted as a Brownie/Girl Guides/Scouts leader or got a shiny Prefect badge way (way!) back at school. Why? The importance of demonstrating leadership qualities has never diminished, in fact, its importance is on the rise in the workplace as the planning sector continues to grow and more opportunities arise. But what is the most effective way of demonstrating leadership skills today?

Developing your leadership skills can become a useful personal target and I would strongly recommend doing so if you wish to move you career forward. Our clients across the public and private sectors will always view your quality of work as the most important factor in a recruitment decision, but they seek future leaders of the business/team who can help drive it forward to greater productivity or profit (or ideally, both!). The workplace is the obvious place to start developing and demonstrating your leadership skills and there isn’t a prescribed way to do so but I have a few ideas…

Firstly, step up. I always advocate taking on extra responsibilities. This doesn’t have to be seizing total control of a project but can begin with people simply speaking up and ensuring their ideas are put forward, asking a director to allow you undertake a piece of work you know to be challenging but something you can excel at or simply encouraging your colleagues through an afternoon lull. The STAR question format (questions which aim to highlight a particular situation, task, action and response of the candidate) is still popular in the world of recruitment and whilst the level of responsibility you can take on will depend on your experience, you will only improve this by stepping up.

Away from demonstrating your leadership qualities within the walls of your workplace there are plenty of opportunities to develop them when interacting with clients (when working in the private sector) or with consultants (when working in the public sector). For example, a great leader isn’t always someone who can have the largest following of people but the person who leads those who believe in them in the right direction. Working with people outside of the business allows you to demonstrate your ability to communicate and lead effectively resulting in successful outcomes for you, your team and the clients involved – and these examples will set you apart.

Lastly, I believe there to be plenty of opportunities currently available outside of the usual working hours for you to enhance your leadership skills. Socially, the planning sector offers a superb array of groups for planners of all ages to get involved and lead – notably, Women in Planning witnessed remarkable growth in 2017 with branches arising across the regions following much success in London. I know that the group are keen to speak with individuals who share their enthusiasm to get involved and help them grow through organising regular events – an excellent chance to improve confidence and leadership skills. Similarly, groups not solely focused on Town Planning provide similar opportunities with Young Entrepreneurs in Property launching across numerous locations and allowing planners to work with those from across the world of property to enhance their own skills but also help others improve and drive their careers forward.

A career in planning is both challenging and rewarding and with the sector witnessing further growth last year there is plenty of expectation that 2018 will be bigger and better! Take advantage of the positivity out there and improve on your wider skill-set to ensure your career pathway matches your ambitions!

Jason Moore is associate consultant at Kingsley Recruitment