The Path to Leadership: Developing the Skills You Need to Lead
Are you planning to enter entry-level leadership or crimp a career ladder? Leadership skills are essential in helping you achieve effective leadership in an organization. Also, these skills help a leader guide, motivate, communicate, and inspire their teams and create a conducive environment for achieving the organization’s objectives/goals. More importantly, leadership plays a significant role in shaping organizational culture, ultimately impacting an organization’s overall success.
Usually, being placed in a leadership role isn’t enough: it requires more to be effective and impact success. This article explores various leadership skills needed (regardless of the skill level) to help one navigate the path to effective leadership. It also outlines ways leaders can hone/develop such skills.
8 Essential Skills for Effective Leadership
1. Master Effective Communication
Good communication skills are core to effective leadership and its success in an organization. As a leader, it’s essential to master skills that will help you communicate clearly and concisely with your team members, fellow leaders, and stakeholders. Additionally, a leader has to tailor their communication styles to suit different audiences or situations.
Effective communication goes beyond attentive listening, giving orders, and providing answers. To be a great leader, you must develop skills such as active listening, public speaking, verbal & non-verbal communication, and written communication. It’s also crucial for a leader to be empathetic and respectful when communicating. Lastly, one needs to practice providing and accepting feedback.
2. Be Creative and Innovative
In today’s fast-moving world and economy, being creative and innovative is extremely important, and recently, these two skills have risen to the top of the management agenda in most organizations. About 60% of CEOs perceive creativity as the most important leadership quality.
To be an effective leader, you need to think outside the box (brainstorm new ideas) when approaching problems; you must not always choose the conventional path. Among the best ways to enhance innovation and creativity is by being analytical, identifying patterns, continuous learning, collaborating with team members, embracing others’ perspectives (diversity), critical thinking, etc.
3. Practice Proper Time Management
Being a leader means guiding your team, and managing time will determine what you can achieve. Some consequences of poor time management include missed deadlines, low-performing and unmotivated employees, high-stress levels, etc. Conversely, by practicing proper time management, you and your team can easily achieve success since you can focus on what matters and complete them within a reasonable time frame. Above all, proper time management fosters a culture of accountability.
Some of the best practices that help leaders become better with their time management include establishing deadlines, managing/adjusting priorities (short, mid, and long-term), delegating some tasks (don’t try to do everything yourself), using a checklist/ To-Do list, not wasting other people’s time.
4. Be Decisive
As a leader, decision-making is vital, sometimes requiring making decisions under pressure. For this reason, one has to be decisive (the ability to make quick decisions in difficult or complicated situations and stick by what you decide). It’s an essential skill for leaders as it helps execute plans, demonstrates confidence in one’s actions, helps build loyal teams, and makes you an influential leader.
It is also worth noting that as a decisive leader, you should take accountability for your decision. It helps you earn respect from your team members and learn from your mistakes.
5. Know How to Manage Conflicts
Conflict in the workplace is inevitable: Statistics show that 85% of employees experience some kind of conflict in the workplace. Also, managers spend at least 24% of their time managing conflict. Therefore, understanding how to handle it is important for leaders of all levels.
An effective leader should know how to put out the fire when a conflict arises (mediate disputes) or at least mitigate a conflict before it escalates and impacts other aspects of a business. More importantly, leaders need to practice fairness and impartiality. It also calls for one to be emotionally intelligent.
6. Be Supportive and Empower Team Members
Being supportive and empowering others is a valuable leadership style all leaders should develop. It means leaders don’t only delegate tasks and expect results; they show genuine interest in those they work with and support them in various ways to attain the set goals. The best part is that minimal supervision is required when leaders are supportive and empower their team. Also, team members are highly motivated.
Among the practical ways of establishing supportive leadership are providing necessary resources (financial, tools, software & information), offering professional development opportunities, employee recognition & rewards, etc.
7. Embrace Agility and Adaptability
Good leaders understand that change is inevitable and, at some point, will affect a business in different ways. Therefore, they are agile and adaptive to enable them to deal with potential changes more positively: they approach change as an opportunity rather than a disruption. Generally, agile and adaptive leadership emphasizes flexibility and collaboration. Consequently, they and their teams can cope with uncertainties or complex situations.
Effective ways to remain agile and adaptive are by staying updated with industry trends, embracing new ideas, encouraging creativity, and fostering a learning environment.
8. Uphold a strong sense of integrity
Often, team members look up to their leader’s values and behaviors and are likely to apply what they see when dealing with others or make decisions based on that. For this reason, upholding integrity is essential for effective leadership: good leadership calls for integrity, a top leadership quality. For instance, a leader’s words should consistently match their actions.
Why is integrity important in leadership? Leaders with integrity are more trusted by their colleagues and team members. Also, integrity sets a foundation for exemplary leadership in the entire team. Above all, it helps build credibility with clients, investors, and customers.
The path to outstanding leadership is an ongoing journey that requires developing specific skills over time. Mastering effective communication, being innovative, managing conflicts, being adaptive, empowering team members, and upholding integrity are among the skills that can set you ahead in your leadership journey.
It’s worth noting that one may experience some challenges along the leadership journey, which sometimes calls for optimism and sacrifice.