Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
Countless business books and other resources have been devoted to getting the most out of employees in order to maximize the bottom line. Yet, at the end of the day, the common theme essentially boils down to the fact that managers have to be equipped with leadership skills.
What is Leadership?
How is leadership developed? What leadership skills are most responsible for generating the greatest amount of productivity? In short, in order to be a leading company, what leadership skills should you be seeking in the people you entrust to manage others?
By definition, managers manage. Of course, if managing was easy, everyone would be doing it. Experience tells us, however, that managing is anything but easy. Most successful managers spend years in a cycle of trial, error, and learning from their mistakes.
Management and Leadership
These two simple words are often used interchangeably. For our purposes, we’ll use them like this: It takes a good leader to be able to manage well. In today’s business climate, where profits are thin and cut costs when possible, business survival demands managers to be strong leaders.
Strong leadership requires the management team to commit to developing, practicing, and measuring key leadership skills.
What Are Leadership Skills?
Leadership skills are a set of characteristics, knowledge, and abilities that determine if one is able to engage in a specific activity or perform a particular job. Leadership skills also include the ability to lead organizational change, communicate a vision for the future, and lead others to make that vision a reality.
Hiring a good leader takes more than simply hiring based on a resume. Education and work experience do not necessarily make a good leader. After all, couldn’t you be a lousy leader with education and experience?
The workforce isn’t always in one place. Telecommuters, freelance workers, temporary employees are all now part of the personnel mix of many enterprises. Feedback about your organization comes from within and without.
If feedback is transmitted via the internet, it is often disseminated far and wide, often before an organization even realizes it’s out there.
Effectively managing critical tasks is perhaps more important than ever, if for no other reason than the cost of failure is not only high, it is often immediate.
Critical Leadership Skills
What then, are these critical, leadership skills that make a whole package? There are many, but here are perhaps the most important:
Without this, nothing else matters. The ability to envision the best course of action, whether in response to a current challenge or when planning for the future, is the threshold across which any leader must cross in order to lead successfully.
The ability to communicate a vision and turn it into a shared mission. The ability to competently and confidently convey a message in a way that everyone understands it, buys into it and commits to it in order to make the vision a reality.
3. Ego in Check
No matter how successful or competent a leader is, they must keep their ego in check. Leader seeks input and surrounds themselves with smart people. The confidence to hire or coach someone good enough to become your replacement is a leadership skill that requires patience.
Leadership skills sometimes include the ability not to do something. Like micromanaging, for example. Trust others to do their jobs as you would want to be trusted. Empower them to be able to carry on as if you weren’t there.
Nothing undermines respect more than tentative decision-making or judgment. Effective empowerment of others requires confidence. Lack of confidence is usually perceived as a weakness and will likely be the death knell of belief in the vision/mission.
6. Accept Change
Ability to accept change and champion its implementation easily and with minimal push back. This also includes the capacity to recognize opportunities that may require a complete change in direction to successfully pursue the vision.
7. Energy and Enthusiasm
Even if you don’t feel like it. Remember, this is all about the fact that those you lead take their lead from you.
8. Plan and Organize
Lack of either skill makes it difficult to credibly demand them of others.
This means honesty. Complete honesty. Full, fair, and plain disclosure at all times. None of this has any meaning, of course, if one is unable, to be honest with self. (See 3. above).
Seek input. Ask for opinions. Listen for better ideas.
Respect your colleagues, suppliers, superiors, and customers.
Put another way, when presented with new information or an opposing point of view, remain open to the possibility that you may not know all that you need to or that you may be wrong. Treat others as you would want to be treated.
This is not an exhaustive list. As we’ve mentioned, there are multiple resources that address additional leadership skills leading companies to have in common. The bottom line is that an effective leader manages in a way that enables an enterprise to succeed. Be a great example!
What Other Skills Do Successful Leaders Have?
If you have ideas about the skills of successful leaders that might be helpful to readers, share them in the comments section below. Thanks!
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