It’s summer, so school’s out, right? Think again: your career never takes a break, even when 80-something temperatures tempt you outside and out-of-offices take over your inbox. Most industries slow down in the months between May and August, making it the ideal time to double-down on your own personal growth as an executive (or a c-level hopeful).
As career expert for TopResume Amanda Augustine explains, to be a good leader you need to have exceptional communication skills, be able to creatively solve problems, and possess an ability to motivate those around you — to name a few things. And while you may be a superstar in some of these areas, you can’t win at everything right off the bat. That’s why it’s recommended to take the longer days as an opportunity to expand your knowledge. Here, a few expert-driven ways to grow your leadership skills this summer:
Organize a summer sports team
Though it’s been a while since you were on a varsity team, the feel-good endorphins that come with exercise and camaraderie. Augustine says organizing fun, active outdoor activities in the summer for you, your friends and your team can do more than work up your heart rate, it can also ignite some rusty leadership skills you haven’t considered lately.
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“Starting a sports team gives you a chance to work on your organization, communication, and leadership skills throughout the process,” she explains. Depending on your location, you can book events through ZogSports or Rivall, or just head to the park and do your own thing.
When rooftop hangs are the norm, why not add an element of professional socializing? Career expert Wendi Weiner says summer is ideal for leaders to build their network and improve their relationships with clients or team members.
Because it is generally a more relaxed period, summer Fridays, happy hours and plenty of event invites allow your calendar to be filled with fun — but also effective — mingling. Internally, she says you could even consider a more strategic open door policy to welcome anyone-and-everyone to come and discuss the company and goals with you. This will create that summer mindset all year-round.
Take a class
If you’re a parent, how much do you push your school-aged kids to keep reading, even in the summer? Or monitor their screentime to ensure they’re actually using that noggin’? Definitely, more than you challenge yourself to ‘study’ like you did in college or high school. With long flights, beach vacays and plenty of time to dive into a lengthy topic, Augustine suggests booking yourself into a class this season.
“You may find it surprisingly easier to fit in that online course you’ve been meaning to take for months, while your workload is somewhat lighter and many people are out of the office for vacation. Thanks to the plethora of sites and apps available, you can easily improve your business writing skills at your own pace and while you’re on the go,” she explains.
Not sure where to start, take a gander through sites like Envato Tuts+, Coursera, Udemy, edX, GoSkills, Lynda.com, and SkillShare to find the right class to help improve any number of skills that will make you a better and stronger leader, she recommends.
Practice better communication
Founder and CEO of The Lonely Entrepreneur, Michael Dermer says there are a handful of must-haves for effective, empowering leaders. Two of these are emotional intelligence and communication — both skills that you can use the summer to focus your energy toward. With EI, you can book 1:1 meetings with your team members to really understand their passions and how to best manage them.
“Great leaders take into account the factors that drive people and the circumstances they are operating in. Every situation requires a different action and understanding when to apply what solution is an invaluable skill for leaders,” he explains.
Everyone has a cause that ignites your spirit and makes them want to revolutionize change. In addition to donating money, giving the gift of your time can also be an effective way to make a difference. And, in turn, teach you more about leadership. As Augustine explains, hands-on, team-building experiences force you to think critically and strategically, often in real-time. Another way to help is to use your expertise for the greater good.
“Look for skills-based volunteer opportunities that will also allow you to leverage the skills you’ve built up during your career,” she explains. This may be pro-bono social media work, free blogs for charities or even accounting. If you need help finding a non-profit, Augustine says to look on Catchafire, VolunteerMatch, AllForGood, and CreateTheGood, and HandsOnNetwork for help.