Most people would agree that a ship needs a captain to avoid foundering, and a business needs strong leaders to avoid floundering. “What are leadership skills?” has a less obvious answer. These seven skills will serve leaders and team members well for success and advancement.
1. Vision, innovation, and creativity as types of leadership skills
Excitement about the company’s products or services is valuable, but it won’t move a company forward. To do that, a leader needs a strategic vision — the idea of where the business should go and a plan delineating how to get there. Innovative leaders recognize and seize emerging opportunities by remaining ever curious and focusing on the future with flexible mindsets. They also know how to balance growth with stability. Creativity is essential when obstacles show up. Visionary, creative leaders will consider non-traditional solutions and to listen to ideas from team members.
2. Good leadership skills include strong communication abilities
Even the most innovative strategies are unproductive if the team responsible for implementation doesn’t understand them. The best leaders can communicate at every level, from one-to-one conversations to departmental conferences to all-staff briefings. They are adept at various methods for sharing information, from the telephone to written memos, emails, and social media posts, and can communicate clearly and succinctly.
Great communicators know the importance of sharing both successes and failures. They use the opportunities to provide guidance without micromanaging, having provided clear instructions first. They coach through open-ended questioning and active listening, such as “Tell me what I can do to help,” and requests for clarification.
Providing useful information is important, but there’s more to office communication than giving instructions. Offering positive reinforcement and feedback is also important. Displaying congratulations on a “Way to Go” bulletin board also helps convey your expectations.
3. Delegation helps in developing leadership skills
Leadership is more than standing in front and showing others the path. A good leader also works to mentor others from all levels of the organization and developing a pipeline of future leaders. Delegation is one tool for growing new leaders. The fact is that a single person, no matter how high their position in the company, cannot do everything. Delegating allows for prioritizing tasks, keeping those that only you can do, while empowering others by allowing them to use their talents and improve their skills. Besides providing training for the future, the trust inherent in effective delegating also builds confidence and motivation, as well as inspires a “go-the-extra-mile” atmosphere. Pass on productive and challenging tasks and pair them with recognition and rewards to foster more autonomy in team members.
4. Effective leadership skills include leading with integrity
Trust is crucial in interoffice success and leading by example is the strongest tool for building that bond. Showing the honest and ethical behavior expected is more effective than writing policies. Be transparent when truth is unpleasant, along with sharing happier results. Acknowledge your own mistakes and apologize for them. Practice open reflection and offer solutions to fix failures.
Self-management of emotions and attention and responding with compassion and tact are critical; few employees will trust an always-angry boss. Leading by example also means recognizing your strengths, weaknesses, and biases. Demonstrate by practice that a life-work balance is valuable as well.
5. Flexibility is an important leadership skill
Smooth operations that follow planned paths are pleasant, but business is rarely so cooperative. Both change and obstacles are inevitable, and the strongest leaders understand how to accept changes and negotiate answers. They’re able to improvise quickly during ongoing processes, and they’re open to feedback from employees at all levels of responsibility. They not only accept advice from others, they seek it out. In addition to speaking to experts who can offer impartial and up-to-date suggestions, they provide employees the opportunity to offer solutions. One way to encourage input is to provide an ideas box for simple contributions.
6. Good leadership skills build relationships
Production is better when folks work well together. Encouraging healthy relationships between team members is a leader’s task. Build bonds with the team, fulfill agreements and promises, and accept the responsibility for providing resources, training, and guidance for meeting project and corporate objectives.
7. Leadership skills include positivity
Happy workers are more efficient workers. Building and maintaining a positive environment makes for happier employees, and it isn’t a difficult proposition. Start by treating everyone with respect, empathy, and diplomacy, but don’t stop there. Encourage employees to add personality to their workspace with fun office products, such as unusually shaped staplers or brightly colored folders. Ask (and listen) about vacation plans and be willing to laugh at yourself when things don’t turn out as expected.