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Career Champion Series: Developing Strong Leadership Skills

02 March, 2018Nadim Choudhury
leader 1Leadership skills are often cited as key requirements for many graduate training programmes in banking and financial services, yet many students fail to understand what makes a good leader.

There are many different styles of leadership, but here are my top 6 skills that students need to be able to demonstrate if they want to be successful at the assessment centres and during the recruitment process.

1. Inspire and motivate others

The ability to inspire and motivate your fellow students to achieve set tasks or goals demonstrates strong leadership. Think of a time where you have taken the initiative to support others. What did you do? Understanding a particular goal, and supporting others to achieve this, is a great way of displaying your leaderships skills.

2. Integrity

Good leaders need to lead by example. Integrity and honesty are a must for future leaders in banking and finance, especially if you are dealing with complex financial transactions or trading. Gone are the days of the unscrupulous banker. All professionals in our industry are expected to abide to the highest standards of integrity.

3. Strategic thinker, analytical and problem solver

A good leader also needs to understand the importance of the ‘bigger picture’. When applying for graduate development programmes, you need to demonstrate the ability to understand what the overall mission and strategic objectives of your organisation is, followed by how the department you  have applied for fits into this strategy and eventually how your role supports this.  You also need to be able to solve problems and make decisions based on different sources, this requires the ability to analyse what’s important and what isn’t and as a result make sound business decisions. Hopefully your degree course will provide you with most of these skills, but thinking strategically is a good way to demonstrate leadership.

4. Results driven

This could be achieving sales targets or meeting specific business objectives. A good leader will be able to consistently achieve the results set for them and meet deadlines to an excellent standard. They will also be able to anticipate problems and deal with them before they reach critical level.

leaders5. Communicating powerfully & prolifically

This is probably one of the most important skills a leader can demonstrate. It’s often how you say things, rather than what you say that makes a difference on how people perceive you. If you want to come across as a strong leader, it would be wise to be mindful of how you use your voice and body when expressing yourself or making your opinion heard. Speaking clearly and directly and using positive body language and taking up space when talking is a sign of a good leader.

6. Being curious and innovative

Good leaders are those who are never settled in accepting the status quo. You should be challenging yourself to look for better ways of doing something, even if  it doesn’t pay off. Always ask, “what else can be done”? This is a sure fire way of getting people and yourself to think deeper and come up with new and exciting ways of solving  problems. 

These are my top six skills that all students need to be able to show to become a strong leader. Remember, you don’t need to be a leader to demonstrate leadership potential.  Focus on these six competencies and you will go far.

If you would like support in developing your leadership skills, contact  The London Institute of Banking and Finance’s Careers & Employability Service for a coaching session. We are here to help careers@edu.libf.ac.uk

For further hints and tips for progressing in your career, read Nadim's other Career Champion articles.