What Are the Most Powerful Leadership Skills?
Some leadership skills are inherent in our personalities and individual traits. Yet others are learned and developed over time through patient and diligent practice. It is true that most leadership skills can be learned but not everyone has the same desire or capacity to learn needed to become an effective leader. So yes, anyone technically can be a leader but in reality, few will take on the challenge to the degree required to be successful at it.
For those who do, life can be rewarding. The best leadership skills do not just improve your ability to lead, they also improve you ability to LIVE. So what does it take to be a strong leader? Let us take a quick look at some of the more prominent skills that make a great leader.
This goes without saying. If we want to lead people, obviously we need to be able to communicate with them effectively enough to promote a common understanding and pass along necessary information. Keep your people informed.
Listening to people is a huge part of good communication. In order to truly develop strong personal bonds, we must learn to listen. This makes people in turn want to listen to us. It also helps us gather important information needed to make good decisions.
One of the most important aspects of leadership is decision making. If we are going to lead the charge, obviously we need to know where to lead it. Leaders must quickly evaluate goals and plans, respond to new situations and new information, process data quickly and make sound judgment calls. It is crucial that leaders be able to make the best decisions concerning the direction of the operation.
“Damnit I have people skills!!” You may or may not remember the scene from Office Space when the employee who clearly lacked communication abilities was adamant that he had people skills.
Leaders need people skills. They must be able to not only communicate but also connect with subordinates. Effective leadership depends on relationships and bonds with the people you wish to lead. They must trust you. They must respect you. Otherwise, they will be reluctant to follow.
Leading By Example
Do not be the hypocrite who tells everyone to work hard and push for the best results just before ducking out early to get in a few rounds of golf. If you work people hard and then they find you surfing the web half the day, they will not respect you, trust you or even like you.
Leading by example means getting in there and doing things exactly the way you want others to do them. You set the example; you set the tone.
Being responsible means taking ownership for everything within your control. The success of the team is in part your but the failures are yours as well. You must ensure that you are providing the necessary tools and information to people so that they can do their jobs as effectively as possible.
You must ensure that the information you provide is as specific and as accurate as possible. If things go wrong, you cannot put the blame on people who work for you. Ultimately, it is your responsibility to ensure that they have what they need, are working diligently and the operation is progressing, as it should.
If you want to lead others, you must believe in not only your abilities to succeed but also your abilities to lead. You must exude confidence in everything that you do. People can sense confidence and additionally a lack of confidence. When others can see that you lack conviction, they will be far less likely to trust in your direction.
Delegate Authority and Responsibility
The scope of your project or operation might be vast. You cannot oversee every detail all the time let alone do everything yourself. Give competent people the authority to make decisions and control certain aspects of the operation. Give them responsibility but make sure they are responsible to you, you still hold the responsibility for the programs overall success in the end.
Not only does this help you get more done, it allows people to feel more involved. When people are personally invested in the outcome of the operation, their efforts to see it to success will increase.
Honesty is the backbone of true leadership. Honesty will make the difference between being a leader and being a manipulator. Manipulators may motivate people and push them to do things but they will never be leaders. Leaders are open and honest with their people. Leaders will keep people informed. They tell it like it is and they do not hide from the truth. They deal with problems rather than attempting to avoid them through deception. As a result, they earn our trust and gain our cooperation.
Leadership is not easy or simple. If it were, there would be great leaders at every level of hierarchy with every organization. Leadership takes time, effort and information. Becoming a great leader relies on skills that cannot be developed over night but for those who make an honest effort, they can be developed over time. Good leaders are not just born this way. Good leaders are good because they want to be and they try to be better every day.