Key Leadership Skills Worth Developing
Tuesday, April 12th, 2016
Have you ever looked up to someone in the workforce for their unprecedented and flawless ability to engage, inspire and motivate others? Perhaps you’ve considered them a ‘natural-born leader,’ one who is gifted with the ability to ignite social change within the workplace?
While we all have experienced this type of awe at one point or another, it is easy to be deceived by the term, ‘natural-born leader.’ In fact, most great leaders were not born with the skills needed to succeed. Rather, they worked hard to identify the skill sets that would enable them to succeed in the workforce, and they laboured to develop and fine-tune these characteristics over time. Truth be told, great leaders aren’t born overnight. Instead, they are shaped through years of diligent practice, patience and time.
The beauty of this revelation is that you, too, can become a great leader with the right set of skills. These skills are easier to learn than you think and many of them you can begin practicing right this very minute. So, what are some key leadership skills that are worth developing? Here are a few that will place you on the fast track to success in virtually every area of your personal and professional life.
Organisation. A great leader is always organised and on top of the latest trends in the industry. Organisation involves more than just staying on top of deadlines. Instead, it relates to forward thinking, proactive problem solving and future innovation. A great leader is one who is able to respond to rising challenges with ease, and who always maintains the integrity of the company’s mission, goals and values. If an authority figure is not organised in the workplace, there is a good chance that his or her colleagues will follow suit. Not only does this perpetuate chaos and confusion in the workplace, but it can also lead to a lack of positive participation and employee morale. Staying organised involves keeping your workspace clean and tidy, prioritising tasks, meeting deadlines and providing strong project oversight.
Delegation. One of the most important aspects of being a great leader is being able to successfully and seamlessly delegate tasks. While some people are certainly more comfortable with this skill set, it is something that can be developed over time with a little bit of practice. Leaders in the workplace must know how to delegate tasks accordingly and follow-up with his or her subordinates to ensure that all tasks are being completed in a timely fashion. Successful delegation involves empowerment; being able to encourage others to take ownership of the task at hand and become experts in the subject matter. To practice this skill, it may be helpful to start off small. Begin by delegating small tasks to others to build up their confidence and skills. As they grow professionally, delegate larger tasks with less oversight. Over time, you will become more familiar and comfortable with the notion of successful delegation and shared responsibility in the workplace.
Communication. While good communication is certainly important in every facet of your life, it is critical in the workplace. Every good leader understands the importance of clear, concise and fair communication. As a leader in the workforce, it is important to communicate with all members of your team. Great leaders encourage communication at every level of the business and are open to idea sharing and information exchange. It is important for leaders to not only understand what is happening at the ground level, but to also share information pertaining to administrative and upper-level management decisions. To help practice and further develop this skill, it is important to develop an open platform for communication. Holding regular team meetings, sending team emails with updates and encouraging those to come forward with new ideas is critical to the success of your workforce. As a leader, it is also important to get to know your subordinates. Hosting a team outing or implementing regular team building activities are great ways to get to know your co-workers. Not only will it help you connect with them on a personal level, but will also help you to identify areas of weakness that need to be addressed with further training or educational opportunities.
Empathy. To some extent, great leaders are empathetic. They delve into personal work challenges and try to understand the cause, while helping to identify a solution. Great leaders are also skilled listeners. The majority of our day-to-day interactions involve listening with the intent to respond. In fact, we are often so preoccupied by generating our response, that we don’t truly hear what is being said. To develop this skill, try focusing on what is actually being said during your next conversation. Listen to what your co-workers are telling you and really try to put yourself in their shoes. Don’t listen with the intent to respond; rather, let them drive the conversation with minimal interruption. A leader with strong communication skills who is also compassionate is sure to drive success in any area of the business world.
Attitude. If you take a look at some of the most successful companies in the world, chances are they all have one thing in common – a leader with a ‘can-do’ attitude. No great organisation ever experienced success without someone in charge who had a positive attitude. Great leaders don’t take ‘no’ for an answer. Instead, they look at perceived barriers as opportunities to learn and grow. They drive success on all levels by maintaining a positive outlook and motivating their team members to do the same. No matter where you are in life, you can always change your attitude. To further develop this skill, it can be helpful to practice gratitude. Visualising personal and professional growth, showing compassion and disconnecting momentarily from the hustle and bustle of everyday life can help harvest this unique characteristic.
Resilience. For many of the greatest leaders in the workforce, resilience and attitude go hand in hand. Even with the most positive attitude, it can be difficult to deal with harsh setbacks in the workplace. This is why great leaders are often very resilient individuals, as well. Great leaders know how to adjust to the ebb and flow of an ever-evolving business landscape and deal with setbacks with ease. Over time, they have learned to adjust their techniques to meet the rising needs of the industry and have accepted the fact that failure is a natural part of the growth process. Practising resilience involves trial and error. It involves putting yourself out there and then picking yourself right back up in the event that you should get knocked down. Developing a thick skin, so to speak, takes time, but is a characteristic that can be shaped with practice.
Approach. Another important leadership skill is learning how to tailor your approach. A workforce is comprised of people from all different backgrounds, locations and learning levels. Each person is your industry learns, interprets, communicates and achieves success in a different manner. Since no two people are the same, it is important for leaders to understand how to effectively tailor their approach to working with a diverse group of people. Considering different cultural beliefs, personality traits and language barriers can be helpful in ensuring success at all levels of the industry.
Transparency. One of the most important characteristics of any great leader is the ability to be transparent with counterparts and subordinates in the workplace. In any workplace, honesty breeds trust and trust is the bind that holds everything together. Without trust, little to no success is going to be achieved in any capacity. Great leaders are honest and understand the importance of maintaining a transparent environment with their management team and staff. They are able to communicate in a straightforward manner and take ownership of mistakes that are made.
Commitment. In order to be a great leader, you must be committed to the work that you do. If you are in a management role and are not dedicated to the work that is being done, your subordinates are not going to be dedicated either. Great leaders lead from example. Often times, they can be found in the trenches, so to speak, alongside their workers. In addition to being committed to the work that they do, great leaders are committed to following through on their word. Great leaders do not make false promises; rather, they make promises with the intent of keeping their word and maintaining their professional dignity.
There are many characteristics that make great leaders, great. Many of these characteristics, however, are not passed or inherited from one generation to the next. Rather, they are developed over time by those who wish to command leadership in the workplace. While some are certainly easier to adapt than others, they are all skill sets that will help you to achieve personal and professional success on many different levels. If you are looking to take that next step in your career and perpetuate a high level of success in the workplace, contact us today.