Leadership is NOT a magical word. Many a times I interact with the students from different colleges and I tell them the same thing.
Leadership is not a magical word, but a magically wonderful way to bring changes to the surroundings, to the society and in process making the world a better place to live in. Well, not all of you will agree with me as not all the leaders have made this world a better place, but I am sure they thought they were going to. The situation or context, which made these leaders take a decision to lead, was different too. While few of them found a good example to follow, some teacher holding hand to nurture their leadership qualities, but in majority of the cases the leaders found their own path. Even in the process of becoming a leader, many of them developed themselves on their own.

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi developed his own way to bring freedom to India and in the process became the Father of the nation. Swami Vivekananda found a unique way to develop the future leaders by targeting the youth of the nation. His series of speeches in the World Religion Conference in 1893 wrote a new chapter in the history of India and its spiritual leadership. While Swami Vivekanada was guided by his mentor and guru Sri Ramkrishna Paramhamsa, Gandhiji didnít have any mentor to hold his hands. The learning is, sometimes you may find mentors to follow, but otherwise you should hone your own leadership skills. You just canít afford the luxury to complain and ask for a guide to develop your leadership traits.

But is there any defined way for self-development of the leadership skills? Well, certainly there is. It may not be the only or an exhaustive way, but definitely a pretty comprehensive one.

These are the steps to the path:

a. Develop a vision : This is the first step in the process of self- development of the leadership skills. Be it a small decision or a big one calling for a major stake, you need to have the bigger picture ready in your mind. Having a clear vision will help you in two ways;
first, you can actually communicate the picture to others and form a team to accomplish the mission. You need to communicate the broader picture really well to motivate others.
The second purpose is obviously to be clear about your end objectives and periodic path correction.

b. Seek mentors : The obvious caveat is differentiating between mentoring and handholding. Always be prepared to walk on your own - trust me - you will find others following you. However, in many cases getting a good mentor works as a catalyst to achieve your goals. Many times leaders are known primarily due to the power of the vision they have.

c. Look for challenging goals : Always challenge your limits. Remember that you cannot expand your boundaries unless you challenge them. Also, challenge the limits of the people working with you towards the same goal, without hurting them. Never show that you are more efficient than others; always try to pose the question :can we achieve the more difficult goal together? Gradually you will be amazed to see the performance of your entire team.

d. Improve self-monitoring : Throughout your life, what ever you do, you will be monitored by others. If you are in the middle management role your performance will be tracked by your boss; if you are in the top management, the Board of Directors will keep an eye on your performance and the like. However, even in your non-corporate life, you need to address the issue of self-monitoring. A robust self-monitoring system will not only ring the bell much early than the external alarm, it will also help you overcome your limitations.

e. Ask for honest feedback - Identify good critics and get their feedback on your work. Do not involve people sharing good relation with you. They may try to be nice with you and that is where the purpose of feedback will be beaten. Be ready to leap the harsh comments and try to take away the learning out of that. Then only you can learn from your mistakes and gradually move towards perfection.

f. Learn from own mistakes : Mistakes are part of life and whatever we do. To accomplish something successfully, committing mistake is really important. It may sound like a conundrum, but actually, we can learn from our mistakes, provided we are open enough to learn. Many a times we just turn our back to something which is not successful and try to wash our hands by blaming others. Face the failure friends and do that with an open mind. Accept mistakes and promise yourself that you are never going to repeat the same.

g. Look at events from different perspectives : There are myriad ways to look at things in this world. While the ordinary people look at things in an ordinary manner, try to look at them from some other viewpoint. We generally donít try to bring in new perspectives due to two main reasons :
firstly we donít want to strain ourselves by thinking about another angle to look at it.
The other reason being that we always seek conformance or social approval in whatever thing we do. Hence, we always want to go by the conventional thinking process. To become a true leader, you need to break this inertia and will have to be creative.

h. Be skeptical of easy answers - Remember my friends, to any question you face in life, there will be at least two ways to handle that.
One will be just a no-brainer ; so easy to crack the problem. You will find that almost 99% of your friends will be prone to solve the problem in that way only. However there will be another way - not very easy, but ultimately walking on that rough terrain will result in the most amazing journey to find an answer to the quest. Hence, always be skeptical about the easy answers and try to find the difficult ones.

Well, if you follow all these ways, will you become a leader? Well, not assured, but the moment you start practicing them thou shalt find a new person in thyself and trust me that would be a wonderful journey worth trying.