12 Steps to Brush Up Your Leadership Skills for SSB Interview

Among several qualities that the SSB Interviewers look for in a deserving defence aspirant, leadership skills play a major role. A broad definition of leadership focuses on the ability to inspire and organize other people to achieve a shared goal, typically on a schedule. Leadership skills are important in any organization, especially in the defence forces, since they facilitate strong teams and the ability to get tasks done efficiently. Developing leadership skills, therefore, is an empowering process of harnessing your natural talents to inspire others. As you work on polishing your leadership skills, you become more accustomed to your strengths and weaknesses, which creates self-awareness and the ability to relate to others. In this article, you will find 12 useful ways to brush up your leadership skills and prep up your performance in the SSB Interview.

Tip 1 : Learn from Other Leaders

Look to leaders you admire to incorporate the leadership traits you’d like to develop. Think of any or all leaders you admire. They can be current leaders or those of the past. See if you can find interviews with the leader, which address the topic of their leadership style. Write down some of the characteristics, which make them a strong leader. Find speeches given by the leaders you admire. Listen to, not only their words but how they delivered the speech, as communication is one of the most important qualities of a good leader. TED Talks are a good way to find inspiration as well.

Tip 2 : Practise Discipline

A good leader needs discipline. Discipline is needed in order to achieve the goal. Even if you have a vision or a good idea, it’s useless without discipline. Try exercising good habits at home, like waking up early, maintaining good eating habits and getting daily physical exercise, and work your way up from there.

Tip 3 : Be Decisive

A hallmark of a good leader is their ability to make timely decisions. There will be circumstances where your decisions will be good and in other instances your decisions would be bad. Keep working on your decision making skills so that you get more comfortable being decisive and aim to make better decisions in a greater number than the bad ones. When making decisions, try to be as unemotional as possible. Look at the problem rationally and proceed from there. In case that a decision you made turns out to be unfavourable, use it as an opportunity to learn lessons that can help you to improve your future decisions. Also, a good leader takes time to not only solicit other people’s opinions but also genuinely listen to them and gather as many details as possible. This information gathering process can help you with relevant details for decision making. It also inspires trust among others. Also it helps people to talk freely to you and inform you when problems appear. In so doing, problems can be resolved in good time.

Tip 4 : Be a Good Follower

One of the best ways of becoming a great leader is to be a good follower. Exercise skills such as taking initiative, being resourceful, courage to give critical feedback, keeping your ego out of the way, critical thinking, developing rapport and seeking the cooperation of others. A true leader has no problem yielding control to another person when appropriate. You should not feel threatened when someone disagrees with you, questions your thinking, or puts forth their own ideas and opinions. Keep an open mind and give a deserving feedback.

Tip 5 : Keep Learning

“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other,” said John F. Kennedy. great way to develop your leadership skills is to take on more responsibility: with responsibilities comes more experience. If you have a great leader to look up to, you too can become a great leader whom others will look up to. Learning is an evergreen process and to become a good leader, learning new things and improvising the older ones for betterment is important .

Tip 6 : Be a Good Listener

Good listening skills are essential to succeed as a leader. When you really take time and effort to listen attentively, it helps the other party to feel acknowledged, understood, appreciated and respected. Simple strategies for active listening include maintaining eye contact when talking with someone, smiling, asking questions to gain better understanding, taking time to give proper explanations or guidelines, answering clarifying questions, and remembering and using people’s names in conversations. Other tips are giving undivided attention, not using your mobile phones when one is talking, interrupting the other person when they are talking, and paraphrasing or repeating in your own words what you have just heard to ensure that you understood correctly and are on the same page.

Tip 7 : Be a Problem Solver

People look up to an apt leader for guidance and help. When they face a difficulty, a good leader always comes in for rescue. So, to become people’s favourite leader, try to be an instant problem solver and earn their trust and respect. At a basic level, there are three distinct problem solving scenarios namely: solving a problem before it occurs, solving a problem as it occurs, and solving a problem after it has occurred.

The first scenario presents problems which are likely to occur. This can be informed or guided by similar problems that have happened in the past which we now seek to prevent from happening again.

The second scenario consists of handling a situation or solving a problem as it occurs – in real time. This requires quick thinking to determine what should be done immediately to stop the problem or keep it from getting worse.

The third scenario comprises of resolving a problem after it has already occurred – What should be done immediately? What should be done next? What is the order of activities? What help and resources are needed? Who should do what, when, where, how etc.?

A quick problem solver should follow a particular sequence to understand and do the following items: What is the problem? – Define it. What is causing the problem? Dig deeper. What are the possible solutions? What are the pros and cons of the solutions? Which option offers the best answer? What do you need to implement the solution? Who will handle what? What can we learn from the problem? Get answers to these queries and solve the problem like a superhero!

Follow tips to help in problem solving include finding out who has solved similar problems in the past, documenting the known solutions and revisiting the solutions implemented to check if they work or not and if not, innovate a new solution.

Tip 8 : Influence & Motivate Others

A true leader should positively influence and encourage people to achieve a fixed goal. But how can you do that? First, know what people need and want. For example, if a team member loses motivation because he or she thinks his or her hard work is not being recognized, as a good leader, talk to that person and offer the recognition that is deserved. Sometimes, people lose their motivation because they are facing difficulties, are tired of doing the same monotonous tasks, or are disappointed they are not being asked to get involved. As a leader, you should talk to the concerned person, and ask him or her what’s going on and encourage them to find new ways to get involved.

Tip 9 : Practise Courage, Confidence & Humility

As a leader you will have to be brave and courageous and take risks from time to time. You should encounter and battle with feelings of fear and self-doubt each time you take a risk. Over time, the more you take calculated risks, the easier it becomes to manage fear especially when you strongly believe that what you are doing will benefit many. Ways of being courageous include: asking questions, admitting to your mistakes, persevering when facing opposition, volunteering to lead tasks, proposing an unpopular idea, when going against the tide or breaking from tradition or questioning the status quo, proposing new changes and defending your opinion when you believe strongly in it.

Confidence is a part of nearly everything that a leader does. Even if you’re not an overly confident person, practice acting confident by smiling and asking lots of questions. Refrain from using filler words like, “umm…” and “like.” This will help you to speak more confidently. Ways of building your self-confidence include the following: pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, challenging yourself to do harder tasks or meet new people, mingling with people who help you to grow, being kind to yourself when you make a mistake – learning from it and moving forward, using your strengths to your advantage and tracking your past accomplishments. Other confidence boosters consist of believing in your ideas and sharing them passionately, taking risks and learning from them, rewarding yourself when you achieve a personal goal, forgiving yourself and others, avoiding the trap of constantly seeking the approval of others and not taking it personally when someone challenges your point of view. Additionally, be open to corrective feedback, improve your body language, dress well and comfortably, do not get caught up in perfectionism, do not compare yourself with others, identify your fears and work towards overcoming them, uplift yourself with empowering thoughts, help others and create boundaries.

A humble leader is one who is not arrogant, boastful or proud. When a leader looks down on others, it sends the wrong signals to followers. It can also be annoying and a turn off. On the other hand, being humble does not mean that you are a pushover, a doormat or people can walk all over you. A humble person realizes that it is not just about them, they are able to focus on other people and the big picture. Humility is enhanced through self-awareness – being aware of how you talk and act, how you respond to others and recognizing admitting to your own faults, being willing to learn and be corrected, recognizing, valuing and acknowledging other people’s talents, opinions, inputs and contributions and celebrating other people’s successes. Other avenues for practising humility comprise being respectful, courteous and considerate, caring about others, sharing the credit, seeking feedback to improve yourself, asking for help when you need it, listening keenly, avoiding blaming, fault finding or being judgmental and being a good follower.

Tip 10 : Be Enthusiastic & Positive

Being enthusiastic and positive not only creates a better environment for those around you, but makes people more willing to trust you. People are attracted to positivity and enthusiasm and they will be more willing to follow you if you exhibit both. Even on bad days, try to put a positive spin on things. For example, instead of saying “we weren’t successful,” try saying, “It may not have been our best effort, but let’s continue to work hard together to turn things around.” The way you deliver bad news can make a huge difference, if it’s done positively. A leader with a good attitude creates a positive environment that stimulates their team and keeps everyone’s morale high. Ways to maintain a good attitude include: being grateful for the positive things that are happening in your life or counting your blessings, surrounding yourself with other people who have good attitudes, limiting negative thoughts and negative self-talk, and regularly reading, listening or watching inspirational, motivating and uplifting messages. Other ways are being kind to others, helping others, graciously accepting compliments, controlling your temper, forgiving others, laughing and smiling, seeing challenges as an opportunity to grow your strengths and resilience, solving problems, developing goals that you aim to achieve and consistently taking small steps to accomplish your goals.

Tip 11 : Be a Good Communicator

Lack of communication or poor communication are obstacles to effective leadership. Benefits of clear communication include strengthening team spirit, increasing productivity and collaboration. On the other hand, effects of poor communication consist of lack of clarity and confusion, low morale, tension, stress and failure. Other negative effects are reduced productivity, lack of trust, increase in complaints and decreased engagement. Simple ways of practising good communication skills entail sharing information, offering clear instructions, clarifying, following up, being available to answer questions and so on. Also take care to maintain proper eye contact, showing attention by correct body posture and nodding to show agreement and appreciation.

Tip 12 : Look for Leadership Opportunities

  • Volunteer to be the head or in-charge of organizations you are involved with.
  • Organize a community service project in your community. It could be something as simple as creating a trash day where you recruit neighbours to help you pick up trash in the neighbourhood. Lead the efforts by recruiting volunteers, organizing who should arrange what and designating specific cleaning areas. This will help you to improve upon decision making skills and leading with confidence.
  • Learn to be likable. Being respectful and polite during conversations is one way to improve likeability. Remember to smile and make eye contact.
  • Start dressing like a leader by making sure you have good grooming habits. Keep your hair combed, make sure facial hair, for men, is trimmed or shaved and that your fingernails are well maintained. Women shouldn’t feel the need to dress in something that is overtly masculine. Aim for polished and tailored as opposed to baggy and sloppy. Keep accessories to a minimum.
  • Be innovative. Leaders should inspire innovativeness by reading avidly and observing how other people are solving existing challenges. Think of different ways of achieving your goals and figure out how to bring the new ideas to life. Ask good questions to understand why things are done the way they are done and ask yourself whether there is a better way of accomplishing a specific aim.

Becoming a good leader takes time and effort. With strong focus and determination you can improve your leadership skills and work well with others to achieve your vision and shared goals. Follow these tips in your daily life and succeed in brushing up your leadership skills for the SSB Interview.

Work hard and believe in yourself. Jai Hind!!

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Anuradha Dey

    Senior Lecturer, SSBCrackExams, M.A. English (Gold Medalist) from BHU & B.A. Hons from St. Xavier's College (Kolkata). Poet, Writer & Translator. Published in various Poetry Books, Anthologies & Little Magazines. Invited in World Poetry Festivals. Knows Mandarin, German, English, Bengali & Hindi.

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