Leadership Skills

Any employee with a supervisor will be the first to confirm that some people lead effectively and some do not. The difference has a lot to do with leadership style and leadership skills, the soft stuff that allows some to connect while others flounder.

Unlike marketing or accounting, leadership skills are not easily learned from a book or class. Some people never fully understand how to effectively lead people. The good news is that those that consistently work at it do well as leaders.

Here are 7 essential skills good leaders need:

1. Inspiration

Leaders have been described as people who are able to get things done through other people who normally wouldn’t do those actions on their own. This ability is known as inspiring people.

A lot of managers think they have this skill but easily confuse it with direction. The irony is that where true inspiration exists, very little direction from a leader is necessary.

A key factor of inspiration involves getting people to own their work and become emotionally invested in it. When this occurs, a synergy is developed between a leader and staff that produces a high level of productivity, performance, and morale.

2. Self-Confidence

Leaders have one particular trait in common – self-confidence. They know where they are going and they believe they will get to that destination. This belief drives followers to go in the same direction, many times without question because the exuded confidence carries the group.

Very few leaders are able to carry a group forward much less maintain that following without outward confidence. Staff members who realize a manager has no self-confidence quickly begin to distance themselves from them.

3. Admitting Mistakes

Good leaders are willing and ready to admit when they have made a mistake. Admitting error is part of being human, and people respect it as a higher level of management. Of course, a skilled manager isn’t making mistakes right and left. He has a general ability to excel most of the time.

A good leader has the humility to see when a real mistake has been made and a correction is necessary. Rather than trying to hide the situation, the leader embraces the problem in front of staff and makes a correction that everyone sees and understands.

4. Delegating

An effective leader doesn’t micromanage or try to do everything himself. He uses his staff and delegates tasks so that multiple hands perform the activities and produce the desired results. Delegation is critical both for the survival of a supervisor and the success of a leader.

Many manager hold onto important tasks, believing critical tasks have to be personally performed. This leads to burnout and a lack of support by staff who feel they are then underutilized and not valued. Delegation has the opposite effect, saving the leader’s energy and empowering staff with responsibility.

Related:  Leadership Skills #1: Great Leaders are Trustworthy

5. Learning from Others

Smart leaders don’t let their ego get in front of their ability and opportunity to learn from others and their environment. By always engaging in new aspects and concepts, a leader is able to continually expand his knowledge.

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This makes him wiser, more experienced and smarter. The concepts picked broaden his ability to solve problems and issues as they arise again and again.

A good leader should be able to compare where he is today versus a few years before and realize there is a huge difference in capacity and capability. If the leader thinks he’s the same, then he stopped learning a long time ago.

6. Developing Others

Influential leaders make a point of identifying the best qualities in team members and help those folks bring out their best performance.

This support, better known as mentoring, not only teaches team members how to do their jobs better, but it provides them specialized attention which staff appreciate. The result tends to be gratitude and improved loyalty.

7. Knowing When to Follow

Wise leaders realize when one of their staff has the best approach and perspective. The great leader steps aside and lets that person take the point position. This skill of knowing when to follow rather than always being out in front provides a key element of maturity that staff recognize and respect.

It empowers them to excel, and it acknowledges their skill when they have shown they are ready to perform. The leader then creates deeper relationships with his staff as a result.

Evolving Leadership Skills

Ideally, the best leader has all of the above leadership skills nailed down. In reality, leaders have varying degrees of leadership skills and have to learn the rest. They are good in some areas and have a lot of work to do in other areas. At the same time, their leadership style is evolving through experience.

The leaders that move forward are the ones who are willing to work at learning and constantly adding to their portfolio of leadership skills and tools that improve the relationship between them and their followers.

I’d Love to Hear from You

If you have ideas that you feel like sharing that might be helpful to readers, share them in the comments section below. Thanks!

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Ron Whitaker
Ron is an accomplished entrepreneur involved in developing multiple businesses from the ground up. He is the co-founder of About Leaders, an author, and a start-up consultant and investor. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.
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