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Mastering Leadership: Skills To Develop For Your Fashion Career

The fashion industry is competitive, rigorous, and exciting. Whether your path is to work hands-on in a retail store, for a brand or fashion house, or even at an editorial fashion magazine – there is deep importance in developing your leadership skills. As a student in the fashion industry, one of the best ways to develop leadership skills is to allow yourself to not be perfect and ask questions. In this article, I will break down common leadership styles, characteristics that help you develop these skills, and examples of how to bring these efforts into daily practice. There are at least 6 common types of leadership styles that are executed in various situations.

Transformational Leadership

Focuses on the future, change, and the people. Striving to work on individual strengths and abilities, thus emphasizing change and transformation.

Delegative Leadership

Considered to be a less intrusive form of leadership as it allows the team or individual to work without micromanaging. This type of leadership style leaves room for creativity, the use of resources, as well as previous experiences. 

Authoritative Leadership

A key component of this leadership style is getting to know your team members. Authoritative leadership pulls from a ‘follow me’ attitude that seeks to get the team to one common goal via providing overall direction, encouragement, and feedback.

Participant Leadership

Encourages collaboration and accountability. Participant leadership style leaves room for an employer to involve the team in decision-making, which helps promote openness and forthright communication.

Transactional Leadership

Focuses on structure for the individual or team. This form of leadership communicates means of incentives, rewards, and/or punishment for meeting a goal. Each employee has a specific role and it is important they play it.

Servant Leadership

Modeled after ethical decision-making and putting others’ needs first. The focus is to create the right decisions for all team members involved, from entry-level to senior.

If you read through this and thought “How will I know what leadership style is right for me?” then you’re on the right track. Building leadership skills as a student allows you to work seamlessly through trial and error. From meetings with professors to group projects, you are already in a space to try some of these styles out. As cliche as it sounds, one of the best ways to learn leadership and your own leadership style is by learning how to lead yourself. 

Developing leadership skills is critical to reaching goals in any career path. As a fashion student, whether in design, styling, business, etc., it is imperative that the fundamentals of leadership skills begin while you are a student. The reason is so that you are fully prepared to navigate through situations, articulate yourself, and delegate well once you are in the leadership role that you seek. If ill-prepared, working in the fashion industry can tangle you up like an undone bobbin. Characteristics that can help you build your leadership skills align with having a growth mindset, strong communication skills, the ability to receive and give feedback, and reliability.

As you move through your semesters, these are all skills that you technically work through as a student. In order to even decide to be enrolled in a program, you must have a growth mindset– the innate feeling of wanting better or wanting to grow beyond your comfort zone and current state of being. As you move through projects, especially individual ones, you learn to create better communication skills between yourself, your professors, peers, and eventually, when presenting, with your audience. When you work in group project settings, you learn the importance of reliability and how it takes precedence in team building. You are also able to generate an understanding of the importance of giving and receiving feedback to help you further develop the vision for the project you’re working on.

Fundamental leadership skills can be practiced through everyday life as well. Small strides that are applied to your everyday life can be effective and can aid in how to acquire leadership skills. Some ways to develop leadership in daily life are:

  1. Empower teammates
  2. Take on more projects
  3. Continuous learning
  4. Practice discipline
  5. Resolve conflicts
  6. Learn to follow
  7. Inspiring others

As a student, specifically studying any area of the arts, it is imperative that we highlight our leadership skills and hone in on them. While each discipline is distinct, in the world of fashion, you don’t get your foot into any doors without making your voice heard. Whether you speak through word-of-mouth or through your designs, there are many skills that you must understand before you can master them. As you move through your courses, there is optimal room for you to work on mastering your leadership skills and use them to your advantage. From one creative to a plethora of others, don’t be afraid to make mistakes or ask for help. Emerging artists, designers, and business people often get caught up in the comparison of others or things that are already finished products. Practicing leadership and developing those skills also means understanding that community and support go a long way and that those two factors play into the final products as well.

 

Written by: Uma Peña-Cabrera, Student Writer

Date: March 24, 2023

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