Whether you want to be a business owner or a team leader in an office setting, there is a robust set of skills that a great leader needs to acquire to help them when interacting with employees, team members, and clients. While you learn the technical skills in university, these soft skills you need to become a leader are learned throughout your whole life.
Some of the most important leadership practices a good leader can acquire include integrity, confidence, patience, commitment, consistency, and leadership skills such as communication, critical thinking, making decisions, managing time, and building relationships.
Communication, interpreted literally, is the act of transferring information from one place to another. However, having the capacity to communicate in a productive way with others is one of the most essential skills in life. When we talk about the importance of communication in the workplace, we can easily say it is a must in order to maintain healthy work relationships. Research shows that 3 in 4 employees regard effective communication as the number one attribute in leaders. However, only 1 in 3 employees feel like their leaders are skilled in this area.
As a leader, if you are not able to communicate your idea to the team effectively, you won’t get the desired results. A good leader needs to be an excellent communicator. Through good communication, you have the power to motivate others.
2. Critical Thinking
Critical thinking is one of the top leadership skills required to lead an organization successfully. People with critical thinking abilities are intelligent decision-makers, highly analytical, and always rational. A leader is responsible for making decisions for themself and the company. You have to gain people’s trust so that it is easier for them to let everything in your hands.
To be a successful leader, you must have a thorough understanding of how each choice you make affects the systems and people involved, as well as be aware of the goals and priorities of the organization, plus the resources available to you.
Whatever decision you make, if you are a good critical thinker, they know that you have considered all sides of that problem and have analyzed it in depth to achieve the necessary result. If you master this skill, there are certain majors where critical thinking is most needed and valued, however, it finds use practically everywhere.
The decisions that you make as a leader will determine you and the organization you represent. Having to make big decisions not only for yourself but for others, too, is a huge responsibility since the fate of others and the company itself relies on it.
The first step toward becoming a successful leader with good decision-making skills is understanding that no problem should be taken lightly. Complex matters, urgent situations, pressure, and resource limitations are only some of the challenges you will face almost daily as a leader. So, you must approach each issue carefully, considering all the risks and opportunities that open up through your decision.
As a leader, you should take your time to think long and hard before making a decision, but once it is done, you need to stand by it. However, even if you acquire high confidence in your decision-making skills, take your time to discuss it with others before coming to a conclusion.
4. Time Management
Time is the one thing even the most successful people cannot find ways to earn more or refund. However, good leaders know that their time is valuable, and as such, they pay close attention to how they spend it and on what.
Leaders have a lot of responsibilities that keep their schedules packed almost all the time. It is expected from them to deal with multiple projects at the same time. Here is where time management skills will come in hand to ensure that you organize your time properly so that you can accomplish your goals. If you are not able to organize your time effectively, completing your tasks on time will be impossible, you will get overwhelmed and eventually burn out.
Furthermore, because you are an example to the people you lead, you can directly influence them to also procrastinate less, have better organizational skills, and know what to prioritize for the better of the company.
5. Relationship-Building Skills
To have a cohesive and engaged team, you need to have the skills to build good relationships in the workplace. In the previous paragraph, we mentioned how important time is and that you should spend it wisely. Well, as a leader, one of the most important things you can spend time on is building a good, trusting relationship with your team.
If the team works well with one another, and they also have good relations between them, even the productivity levels will be higher. So, even if you don’t care if other people like you or not, you will need to be skilled in building relationships to be effective. These relationships you establish with your team and the environment you provide for them to interact with each other will help bring out the best in all your team members.
When employees are happy in the workplace, and they know that it is as a result of your relationship-building skills, they will respect you more.
There are many leadership theories, sets of skills and abilities that people value. But, when studying all of them, in its essence leadership will always be the ability that people have to influence, motivate, and push others toward working for a shared goal. However, to be such a leader you must also be confident in what you preach.
To be an effective leader, you must show confidence in yourself, in your team, in the goals and purpose of the company, and most of all, in the decisions you make. If you do not acquire this skill, you cannot expect people to be enthusiastic about working with you, respect, or trust you.
However, when you show high confidence, people will follow your commands. But be careful not to overdo it; show that you acquire the right level of confidence so that your followers can trust you as a leader.
Another vital trait of leadership is integrity. It is through this skill that you can create a positive and productive working environment where team members do not follow you just because you are their leader but because they respect you as a person.
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In today’s society, regardless of other beneficial characteristics that you have, people will not follow you unless you have established trust with them. Success as a leader comes only by sticking to your values and beliefs.
Having integrity as a leader means that you are deemed trustworthy, honest, and reliable. Leading with integrity is not only related to acting in accordance with what you promise but also following company policies and not being afraid to admit your mistakes. No team member will expect you to be perfect. However, they will expect you to be genuine and open with them about how you lead the team.
If you have the ability to act or behave in a similar way throughout the whole time, you can be defined as a consistent person. This is one of the key skills which is particularly crucial in leadership. Consistency is closely related with integrity and being open. By developing this skill, not only should you work toward being consistent in your stance, leadership style, and your goals, but also the way you operate. So, if you consistently schedule meetings with the team, attend them, and follow each member’s work, you will be a better leader.
As a leader, if you do not act or behave in a consistent manner, people will not know what to expect. As previously mentioned, you act as an example by which the team operates. If you are consistent with your work, it is obvious that you expect other team members to be consistent with their work as well.
They say that to lose patience, means to lose the battle. Leaders are bound to face challenges that they were unprepared for. If you do not handle those situations with patience, you can fail as a leader. While dealing with different types of problems, you would need to manage the job properly and try to understand the situation.
If you are patient, the workplace becomes nicer and less stressful; on the other hand, if you’re impatient, your employees can become fearful of interacting with you and will avoid you. On your road to acquiring patience as a leader, you will learn to become capable of withholding judgment, be a great listener, and you will be able to avoid being unreasonable.
Furthermore, being an effective and patient leader does not mean you should never show signs of strain. Instead, it means that regardless of your uncertainty, you can be supportive and stay calm even when facing difficult situations.
Leadership is a decision, an obligation, and requires hard work. Taking full responsibility and working towards better things will become part of your everyday job. Once the decision to become a leader is made, you must know that expectations towards you are higher than for anyone else in the organization.
However, leadership commitment means always striving to become better- more committed, more communicative, honest, confident, consistent, and so on. You must be willing to learn and keep on learning despite the challenges you face.
You will undoubtedly face some failures along the way. However, what will help set you apart as an effective and successful leader is the commitment you have to this role. So, make sure to work hard and stay committed to achieving your goals.
How to Apply Leadership Skills
Now that we have gone through the skills that will help you succeed as a leader, the question is: how do you apply these leadership skills? Well, it is relatively easy. You interact with your team and incorporate each skill into these interchanges. You approach each task with integrity and the idea of achieving success while being consistent, committed, and good at communicating what you expect from your team. Furthermore, remember to be calm, patient, and understanding even when things do not go according to your plan.
The first step toward becoming an effective leader is knowing which skills will help you along the way. Now that you have passed that first step, all that is left is for you to grow, experience success and failure, and learn along the way.
You will encounter different situations where you will have the opportunity to apply each of the skills we have mentioned until, at some point, they become a part of who you are. Then, you will unconsciously apply them to every decision you make.
Leadership comes with great responsibility and it certainly requires preparation. The road to becoming a leader can be both daunting and enthusiastic at the same time. However, the moment you have decided you want to become one, you have taken control of your life and have the ability to design your future. You now realize that there is no room for fear and dependency, which holds most people back, and now on the path of becoming what you’ve always wanted: a true leader.