Five essential leadership skills

What makes a good leader? It’s a question that could be answered in so many ways, but this blog covers 5 essentials

Irrespective of how you define a leader, the result is ultimately tested by the success and failure of a team. In this post, we take a look at five essential leadership skills, that we believe separate the good leaders from the not so good ones.

#1 – Communication

Words have an incredible power to motivate and inspire teams, not only when spoken but also when written and listened to, so it will come as no surprise when we say that communication is one of the most basic, yet vitally important skills of a good leader. In fact, according to the Center for Creative Leadership, “Communicating information and ideas, is consistently rated among the most important skills for leaders to be successful.”

A large part of successful communication also involves active listening. It makes team members feel more valued and creates a much more positive and open working environment. Therefore as a leader it is imperative to establish a steady flow of communication by making yourself available to discuss issues and concerns with employees.

A powerful tool, communication also extends to encouraging discussion between team members, building trust and conveying long-term visions to ultimately enable your team’s success.

#2 – Creativity

In our ever changing, fast paced and often challenging world, leaders must be able to ‘think outside of the box’ and choose to make creative decisions that do not necessarily have a clear answer. This includes learning to approach and solve problems in non-traditional ways and using critical thinking, imagination, observation and open mindedness to deliver innovative solutions and ideas.

In order to get ahead in today’s fast-paced world, a leader must be creative and innovative at the same time. Creative thinking and constant innovation is what makes you and your team stand out from the crowd. Think outside of the box to come up with unique ideas and turn those ideas and goals into reality.

Steve Jobs once said, “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.”

He was the super brain leader who launched two of the most valuable and creative companies of modern times with Apple and Pixar – he didn’t reach those heights by following all of the rules.

But what if it all goes wrong? Most employees will be impressed and inspired by a leader who doesn’t always choose the safe option in order to discover what does really work for their team and organisation. After all, without failure, there is no success…

#3 – Motivation

Leaders need to inspire their workers to go the extra mile, which is why the importance of managing people and relationships is generally much more important than tasks. This isn’t to say that tasks don’t matter, but a large part of the role as a good leader is to motivate and inspire other people to do the tasks well.

Leaders must learn what motivates their employees or team members to encourage productivity and passion and this only comes through getting to know them. There are often a number of ways to motivate your team members – by building employee self-esteem through recognition and rewards, or by giving employees new responsibilities to increase their investment in the company.

By ensuring you have a motivated team behind you, it makes it easier to delegate tasks whilst providing clarity and clear direction to ensure that your team members know why they want to follow your lead, which in turn motivates them to work hard.

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#4 – Positivity

A positive attitude can go a long way. Creating a space where employees feel respected and cared about encourages interpersonal relationships and a friendly manner to develop amongst colleagues. Simple team building activities, positive reinforcement, appreciation and acknowledgment of both team and individual achievements helps to develop a positive atmosphere and raises morale among staff members.

If employees feel that they work in a positive environment, they will be more likely to want to be at work, and will therefore be more willing to put in the long hours when needed. It’s also a great trait if you can laugh at yourself when something doesn’t go quite as planned; this helps create a happy and healthy work environment, even during busy, stressful periods.

#5 – Feedback

If you want to be a good leader you have to be prepared to lead in all areas, including the not so easy ones. With a futuristic vision, it’s important to relay feedback in a positive and creative way by teaching employees how to improve their work and make their own decisions. You have to be able to judge when to listen, when to think and when to decide.

Being open to receiving feedback yourself helps team members to respect you more as a leader and this will also ensure that you feel more confident delegating tasks to your staff. In turn, your team members will also respect you more for taking on their feedback and listening for what they have to say.

There are so many different styles of leadership and this is just a snippet of some of the core skills needed for the role. The important thing is to be yourself, to know your own personality so that you can be authentic in the way you engage with other people and the way you use your authority.

If you are a leader looking to refresh and innovate your leadership style, we host training courses all over Bristol and the South West and beyond to encourage further development to support your role, including personal development plans, coaching styles, prompts for leadership styles and meeting templates.

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