Effective leaders play a pivotal role in a company’s success. It’s their job to guide a team to achieve its objectives by managing time, tasks, and resources. Some people take a hands-on approach, while others are better at delegating and ensuring that the big picture remains in focus. Regardless of the approach, however, all leaders need to master certain essential leadership skills to help them carry out their responsibilities.
Hard and Soft Skills
According to job search and career expert Alison Doyle, these essential leadership skills divide into two categories: hard and soft skills. Hard skills tend to be job-specific. They are more teachable, and proficiency is easier to measure. In contrast, soft skills relate to personalities and are more subjective in nature.
Some example of hard skills include:
- Data entry (basic office skills)
- Knowledge of accounting procedures (subject matter knowledge)
- Website coding (technical expertise)
- Building maintenance (trade skills)
Leaders need these hard skills in order to handle the day-to-day activities of the business. It is mastery of soft skills, however, that often separates competent leaders from the exceptional ones.
Essential Soft Skills
The list of soft leadership skills is endless. Still, there are a few that stand out as especially beneficial for exceptional leaders.
Good communication skills are essential for any job. Effective communication helps with problem-solving, customer service, and providing effective feedback. Additionally, these skills open the door to networking opportunities both within and outside of the company.
Listening as a communication tool should not be overlooked either. A leader who doesn’t listen well cannot respond well.
Exceptional leaders understand that in a diverse business environment, everyone has different abilities and concerns. Empathy allows leaders to understand and thus respond appropriately to the various circumstances that affect employees.
Creativity has uses beyond its application to a particular task or assignment. It also allows leaders to find innovative responses to challenging situations and new opportunities.
The leadership skills listed so far all contribute to being a good team player. However, teamwork is also a valuable skill in its own right. An effective leader finds value in every team member’s contributions and brings their strengths together to benefit total production. Additionally, a leader who promotes teamwork creates a more positive work experience for all.
You need to be aware of what others are doing, applaud their efforts, acknowledge their successes, and encourage them in their pursuits. When we all help one another, everybody wins.Jim Stovall
Negativity is toxic to any company. A good attitude may not eliminate every difficulty, but a leader must be positive more often than not to maintain morale. Keeping a positive outlook is a desirable personality trait for anyone in a leadership role.
Using Your Leadership Skills Toolkit
Being a leader is not about operating from a place of power. It’s about empowering others to accomplish their goals. A wise leader wants as many tools as possible in their kit, and they nurture each of these leadership skills in both team and personal development.