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20 Essential Leadership Skills

Wouldn’t you love to be a great leader? Would you like to know good a leader you are now? Wouldn’t you love to better yourself? If the answer to these questions is “yes”, then you have come to the right place. Here is a check list of 20 indispensable leadership skills for you. Compare yourself honestly to each skill given here, and see whether you feel it rings true in your case. The more of these you have, the better your leadership skills are are. And even if you may not have many of these qualities, improving your leadership skills is just a matter of adding all these skills to your arsenal, and constantly polishing them.

1. Ethics and Values: Being a great leader involves having great ethics and values. If you are out to cheat and manipulate people, then your fan following would be an ever-thinning one. It is important for every great leader to have honesty, integrity, compassion and courage.

2. Respect and Trust: People are only naturally drawn to leaders who they trust and respect. Fear and control based leadership could get you some followers in the short-term, but loyalty wouldn’t be their top quality. To build a loyal team, be someone who can be trusted and respected.

3. Confidence: Self-confidence and assertiveness attract people like a magnet. Develop your self confidence and assertiveness, and you can be a leader.

4. Decisiveness: Leaders need to make tough decisions in tough times. Hone your decision-making skills. Learn to be calm under pressure. People will naturally look up to you and want to be led by you.

5. Delegation: You cannot do everything just because you are a leader. You need to delegate tasks effectively. Know your team. Know each member’s strengths and weaknesses and delegate responsibilities accordingly. This will make your team members feel appreciated and recognised.

6. Communication skills: Improve your communication skills. Always communicate your vision, goals, plans, strategies, potential problems and expectations to the team members. Get input from your team. Listen, ask suggestions, convey, involve, co-operate. There is no need to be a know-it-all; be open to contributions.

7. Appreciation: A great leader values each team member and makes each team member feel valued. Each member of the team feels their role is important and appreciated. Praise in public and criticize in private.

8. Handling Successes and Failures: It is very important that a great leader should know how to handle each success and failure. Celebrate your successes, learn from your failures and move forward. Remember – whenever your team has a success, attribute it to the entire team. When your team faces a failure, accept responsibility for the failure.

9. Emotional mastery: A great leader has a great control over his/her emotions. S/he is not given to temper tantrums, yelling spells, name calling, nervous breakdowns or guilt trips. Keep your emotions under check. Never ever lose your cool. Calmness is an extremely important trait of a great leader. Develop a high EQ (emotional quotient).

10. Planning skills: A leader is expected to formulate strategies, plan and organize. Hence, polishing your planning and organizing skills is inevitable when one aims to be a great leader. Time management is yet another vital skill you would need.

This article was featured in the October Leadership Development Carnival.

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