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Leadership Skills That You Need To Acquire To Get Ahead In Business

leadership skills

As a business owner or manager, you will be faced with competition every single day from your peers and competitors in the business space that you operate in. Investing time in developing your leadership skills is a way to ensure that you’re equipped to deal with this competition and set you and your business apart from the competition.

If you wonder what leadership skills are essential for you to become an effective leader, and how these skills can help you succeed, read further. The article below highlights some key skills owned by top business leaders that will give you an advantage in your career.

What Makes An Effective Leader?

Great business leaders take the time to develop and harness a range of skills that makes them effective such as communication and strategic thinking, in addition to conflict management and team-building skills.

Powerful leaders tend not to excel in one specific skill but instead are experienced and adept in a wide range of skills that they balance together to form a strong basis for their leadership. Great leaders are inspirational to others, and can manage and motivate their teams to lead the business toward success.

What Are Leadership Skills?

Leadership skills are a set of abilities allowing a person to be a successful leader. A leader is someone who can organise a motivated team of people to work together and achieve a common goal. An effective leader is not someone who only tells others what to do, they are able to set achievable goals and deadlines, while supporting the team to achieve their goals.

Here are the core skills every successful leader should possess.

1. Communication

All job roles demand the valuable skill of effective communication, but this is especially true for business leaders.

Successful leaders are brilliant at communication. They are not only able to communicate clearly what they have to say, but also have the ability to listen actively to others. When it comes to using body language, they are skilled at exhibiting positive body language signals. They also master the skill of posing the right questions to elicit the information they need.

Powerful leaders are also charismatic and can quickly and effectively build rapport with others. They can make their point firmly without aggression, and can be assertive when the situation requires them to be so.

In addition, a leader who is able to communicate effectively is someone who provides constructive feedback to peers and subordinates, steering away from harsh criticism. Just as you expect others to accept your feedback, you are also supposed to accept feedback given to you on your work, regardless of whether you agree with it or not.

Confidence while speaking in public is another communication skill that should be acquired by good leaders, since they have to speak publicly in different situations such as meetings with colleagues, presenting in front of board members, or speaking in public events. Having the confidence to project their voice will surely captivate the audience.

2. Integrity

The world of business is ruled by ethics. Ethical conduct, being trustworthy and acting in the best interests of the wider goal are all qualities that good leaders will have and that others want to see in the people they look up to.

It is not difficult to develop and display integrity in the workplace. If you make a mistake, you should hold yourself accountable and take steps to correct it or admit what you’ve done because everyone makes mistakes and trying to project the perfect image all the time does not make you a great leader.

Integrity means acknowledging the effort of the team and appreciating the contributions of everyone when working in a team environment, not taking the glory for yourself as working on a project and achieving success is the combined efforts of many.

Integrity is a virtue that should be instilled at the heart of leadership, since it supports the culture of ethics and honesty, strengthening the position of the company in the market.

3. Strategic Thinking

One of the most effective leadership skills is strategic thinking. When a leader can think strategically, it means that he is a leader with a vision. Such a leader is aware of long-term goals and can act accordingly.

Everyday issues might be a distraction for some people, but they are not so for a strategic thinker, for they are able to ignore these little distractions and focus on the overall vision. Strategic thinking starts with the definition of a vision and long-term goals. Understanding what you exactly want allows you to set the perfect plan and reach your goals.

When the vision is clear, your goals can be easily set. Setting SMART goals is a guaranteed recipe for success, so your goals should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. Both short and long term goals should be oriented towards this vision.

Developing the ability to think strategically is valuable for both the leader and the organisation, since it drives you closer to achieving your goals and increases your chances of success.

4. People Management

Successful leaders cannot achieve remarkable goals without the support of an efficient team. Being able to manage a team is therefore an important leadership skill.

If you manage your team effectively, they will provide you with the support required to reach the goals set for the business. Gathering and nurturing the right team for success starts with recruitment. Your process of recruiting team members should be solid enough to choose the best fits who own the needed skills, have the necessary experience and the right personality for the job.

With the right team around you, performance management is then crucial to get the best from them day-to-day. Celebrate the successes of your team, but balance praise with constructive criticism where needed. When one of your team members struggles with poor performance, offer support and opportunities for growth and improvement.

Working with a team and managing people also requires active listening skills. Make sure you ask open-ended questions and listen genuinely to answers. Active listening enables you to see the wider picture and communicates a feeling of support as your team feels heard.

Since great leaders need great teams to support them, they should invest in developing people management skills.

5. Delegation

A good leader should also know how to delegate. While you might think that you can do everything yourself, holding too many responsibilities will lead to failure in one or more of the tasks you are working on.

Team members have different skills and experiences. Leaders are able to spot the strengths of each team member, and can delegate work accordingly. Delegating work to people according to their skills will reduce the burden put on your shoulders, while motivating the team and making them feel responsible and trusted.

6. Motivation

Effective leaders know how to motivate the teams whether they are line managers or higher- level managers. Being in a leading role, you are supposed to provide a motivational environment for your team, where everybody can succeed and give the best they can. When your team members feel supported and empowered, they will work to their full potential and carry out their jobs perfectly.

Your team will certainly feel motivated if they feel appreciated. Make sure you notice their efforts rewarding their good work. Humans need their efforts to be recognised, appreciated, and praised. By appreciating their work, you will have a team that functions at their best.

Recognising good efforts is not the only way to keep your team motivated. A good leader offers development opportunities and facilitates the growth of his team. Your team members will stay motivated when they are offered shadow jobs across departments, or when they receive internal and external training. Your plans should include funds for training and diverse roles for team members to keep them motivated.

7. Conflict Management

People who work with you have different personalities and experiences. Therefore, conflict in the workplace is inevitable at times. It happens when people do not get along well, or when they have a clash of opinions. Your conflict management skills are essential to put things back on track and relieve tension.

Resolving conflicts is never an easy task, but effective leaders practise well to develop conflict management skills. Leaders should be objective, so they avoid taking sides in conflicts. They involve all parties in the process of managing the conflict. By keeping communication channels open, you will eventually find a resolution that suits everybody.

When the conflict is resolved, individual follow-up with team members is essential. This will help you to find out whether the resolution has worked for everybody, and you will have insights into the measures that should be taken to avoid future conflicts.

8. Change Management

The world of business is constantly changing. Therefore, organisations go through periods of change, either by doing things in a new way or by implementing new systems. These periods of change need powerful leaders who can manage transitions from old to new systems easily.

Change evokes feelings of insecurity and confusion, so people resort to their leadership for guidance and support during times of change. A great leader will offer the needed guidance so that the team and the organisation go through the change process smoothly while keeping stability and structure in place.

Change is successful when people understand the reasons behind it. Your role as a leader is to explain the change process to the team, supporting your argument with compelling reasons in favour of the change. When people get convinced of the need for change, a leader can drive the change forward to be smoothly implemented across the organisation.

Your employees will have concerns as they go through the volatile change period. Being there to support and listen to your team will show them that you are supportive and confident that everything is under control.

Change management is an essential skill that should be developed by leaders in the business world. Since change is a time of uncertainty, leaders are the role models employees look to during the process of change.

How To Develop Leadership Skills

Developing skills to become an effective leader can feel overwhelming at first if you don’t feel that you’re a natural born leader but here are some steps to take so that you develop your personal as well as leadership skills.

  • Take Leadership Courses: Professional development courses are available everywhere, including those that help you become a strong and distinguished leader. Stay updated with available courses to choose the ones you need to develop your abilities.
    • Find a Mentor: Mentors provide valuable help for growing leaders. Your mentor can be an experienced colleague, a network connection or another strong leader. Working with the right mentor will guide you toward finding your individual leadership style and hone your skills.
  • Take the Time to Reflect: Great leaders do not become effective overnight. Even the most successful leaders improve themselves constantly. Developing your skills need steady and continuous efforts to assess your strengths, while finding new development opportunities that will make you a better leader. 

In Summary

Being in a leading position might feel like an uphill struggle. However, when you are determined to succeed as a leader, you should aim to have a broad set of skills that will enable you to think strategically and manage people, conflict, and change wisely and effectively. When you become a better leader, you, your team, and your organisation will celebrate success together.

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