Being an effective leader involves more than a fancy title. Great leaders use their skills to build teams capable of envisioning accomplishment and then coach their charges on carrying out the steps necessary to get there. We have the tools and resources you need to maximize your skills from just a boss to a leader.
Why are leadership skills important?
A strong leader can push a company to greater heights, while a poor leader can turn a workplace into a toxic mess. Studies show that half of employees who quit their jobs do so because of their direct managers, so competent leadership plays a huge role in retention. Leadership certainly is vital to the everyday operation of a company, but it also looks to the future as businesses grapple with issues such as identity, purpose and growth.
What are some of the most important leadership skills for managers to possess?
Aptitude for the following often helps leaders to perform their job well:
- Communication – listening, giving feedback, providing clear instruction, keeping people in the loop
- Decision-making – allocating resources, choosing between ideas or plans of action
- Time management – scheduling one’s own day and the activities of the team for maximum productivity
- Delegation – choosing appropriate people for certain tasks in order to free up oneself or other employees for alternate undertakings
- Attentiveness – possessing awareness of what’s going on, displaying curiosity
- Trustworthiness – building relationships through honesty and exemplary behavior
- Motivation – figuring out what gets each person excited and poised to do his best, cheering accomplishments, inspiring productivity even in the face of boredom or difficulties
- Vision – thinking outside the box, imagining what might be possible, innovating, branching out or changing approaches to arrive at better outcomes
Do all leaders act the same?
No. While leaders do tend to share many of the same traits and perform similar actions, they develop their own style based on factors such as personality, company expectations and the needs of the people they manage. Some may be especially hands-on, while others prefer team members to self-direct. One leader may favor an authoritarian approach to making decisions, and a counterpart may lean toward democratic consensus. Asking questions about non-work-related matters is second nature to certain leaders, and others focus solely on office concerns. The range of behaviors is quite large and diverse, and the same person may even adapt or change her leadership style over time.
Is there really such a thing as a born leader?
Every person possesses unique strengths. So when thinking of leadership as a set of abilities, it makes sense that some individuals may start with a greater natural inclination toward it than others. Like any talent, however, leadership must be nurtured to reach its full potential. And individuals without as much “innate” leadership definitely can hone their craft through effort and education.
How can I improve my leadership skills?
Progress starts with reflection on strengths and weaknesses. How can you take what you do well and make it even better? What gaps do you need to fill in to become more effective? Considering feedback from team members and mentors can help with the process.
Then, explore information on topics of interest. Books, podcasts, college classes and online courses exist on everything from general leadership development to mastering specific skills. Also, remember that Business Management Daily regularly publishes informative articles on leadership development to help professionals learn and grow.