leadership: eight skills all great leaders share

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There’s management and there’s leadership. Neither are the same, although there are cross-overs in places. The best leaders effortlessly build trust and influence and motivate their teams to reach their full potential and achieve goals. 

If you are about to embark on a leadership role or are already a leader, but are struggling to motivate your teams, it’s important to recognise being a leader doesn’t automatically make you a great leader. 

There are certain attributes - 10 of which we’ve listed below - you must have which, of course, you can build upon and perfect as you progress along your leadership journey. 

skill one: self-awareness 

Leaders with strong self-awareness are often honest with themselves and others. They aren’t overly critical or unrealistically hopeful. Leaders with higher levels of self-awareness are also better at hiring people, who have the skills they don’t have. 

Similarly, it’s important to identify the strengths, abilities and talents of all of your team members. This can easily be achieved by asking them what they think their strengths are and what kind of role they think they would excel at. Your team and its performance will be stronger and more fulfilled if the right people are given the right responsibilities. If there are any gaps in your team's knowledge or experience, support them through training; it’ll also help make sure nobody feels left behind. 

skill two: self-regulation 

Leaders who are good at regulating their emotions are often better at reflecting on situations and comfortable with ambiguity and change. They also tend to lead with integrity. This naturally makes them a good role model because they practice what they preach, creating trusting environments in the process. 

Fundamentally, they do the right thing for the right reasons, regardless of how difficult it might be. Overall, self-regulated leaders are more positive, which positively impacts everybody around them and encourages employee productivity and happiness. 

skill three: communication 

Communication is at the core of effective leadership. Leaders who communicate clearly are more successful at influencing and motivating their teams to contribute towards achieving those all-important organisational goals. 

Employees want to believe in what they’re working towards. The more clear their leader is at communicating with them, the easier it is for them to understand the overall mission, goals and vision. 

Examples of good leadership communication skills, include: 

  • being clear 
  • asking open-ended questions 
  • using open body language 
  • showing empathy 
  • asking for employee feedback 
  • being transparent 

skill four: social skills 

Leaders with a good set of social skills are often effective at managing teams. They’re also expert persuaders. Fundamentally, leaders with great social skills can successfully influence their teams and encourage them to shift their attitudes towards organisational missions and goals. 

Being approachable, knowing their audience and tailoring their messages to the audience, and actively listening, are just some of the ways leaders can enhance their social skills.  

skill five: empathy 

Leaders who show empathy are often better at developing and retaining talent. This is crucial for creating highly-functional teams and making sure talented employees don’t leave, taking their valuable knowledge and skills with them.  

Some examples of how leaders can show empathy towards their teams: 

  • recognising the signs of employees being overworked 
  • being genuinely interested in employees’ needs and aspirations 
  • showing willingness to help employees with personal problems 
  • being compassionate when employees go through difficult personal situations 

skill six: motivation 

Motivated leaders are extremely passionate about their work, seek out creative challenges and love to learn. Self-motivation plays a central role within action-based leadership and inspires and encourages employees to follow in their leader’s footsteps. 

It’s crucial leaders are self-motivated before motivating their team members. Low self-motivation levels can hamper personal productivity and negatively impact employee performance. 

Ways to boost your self-motivation: 

  • network with other self-motivated people 
  • focus on your approach and following a disciplined routine 
  • have clarity on your strategies and achieving your goals 
  • be accountable for completing your work on time 
  • look for ways to have some fun and enjoy work 

skill seven: responsibility 

Employees’ productivity is immediately impacted by their leader’s ability to take responsibility and lead the team in their daily work. New leaders often struggle with letting go and delegating work. 

The secret to being able to successfully delegate is building trust. Take the time to get to know your team. Understand their skills and knowledge, strengths and development areas and how they can contribute. Managers who trust their workers are far more likely to be rewarded with better performance and results. Giving your team members the freedom to handle tasks their way, come up with their own solutions to challenges and make important decisions will really boost their confidence. 

skill eight: adaptability 

Quickly adapting to new situations sits at the heart of excellent leadership. Leaders who have strong intuition and creativity are reportedly better at thinking ‘outside the box’ and approaching new situations in the best interest of their teams, as well as the organisation. 

Being open to positive and negative feedback is vital for helping leaders understand how effective their management and leadership style is. Listen to your team members, understand their needs and adapt your leadership style. This will enable you to get the best possible performance and contribution from all of your employees. 

We hope the insight above has provided you with greater clarity on the fundamentals of good leadership. There are several more key attributes, the list above is simply a starting point. 

Now that you’ve read this article, are you interested in developing your leadership skills with the support of a professional coach? Get in touch to find out more. 

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