Career Development

Leadership Skills: Definitions and Examples

May 27, 2021

Leadership skills can benefit you greatly, regardless of your career path. As one of the most important types of soft skills to employers, they can help you secure your dream job, add value to your company and advance your career. These skills include a wide range of communication abilities and personality traits that you may inherently possess or be able to develop over time. In this article, we discuss what leadership skills are and provide several examples.

What are leadership skills?

Leadership skills refer to a set of skills that can help you organise a group of people to achieve a common goal. Whether you're the leader of a project team or a manager in your company, you need these skills to instruct and motivate other people to successfully perform their respective tasks. Leadership isn't a single skill, but consists of an array of interrelated skills that enable you to build a cohesive team.

Why is it important to have good leadership skills?

It's important to have good leadership skills because effective leaders can help a company build strong teams and make sure initiatives, projects and work tasks are completed according to requirements. Due to their good interpersonal and communication skills, they're able to give clear instructions to their team members and motivate them to deliver high work quality. Additionally, they can improve employee engagement, create a positive work environment and remove any obstacles that may reduce the competence of their teams. Good leadership is contagious and inspires other people to practice leadership in their own roles.

Read more: 10 Types of Leadership Styles

What are the most important leadership skills?

Many soft skills may be regarded as leadership skills. For instance, active listening enables leaders to better understand the concerns and ideas of their team members so that they can take the appropriate measures to overcome obstacles and complete projects on time. The skills needed to become a good leader may vary depending on your position and the type of company you work for. The following is a list of leadership skills that are generally considered important to anybody who is applying for a leadership role or seeking career advancement:

Decisiveness

If you want to become an effective leader, you need to have the ability to make well-informed decisions, often within a short amount of time. Decisiveness is an ability that you can develop with experience. As you familiarise yourself with your field of work, you'll be able to make sounder and quicker decisions even if you don't have all the information you need. Good decision-making is an important leadership skill because it can help your team complete projects with greater efficiency and minimal errors.

To make sound decisions, you have to possess a number of skills, such as research and problem-solving skills. Also, you should be able to draw on your previous experience in performing similar tasks, determine the right method to complete your current task, make the decision and assume the responsibility for the outcome of your decision. Below are the key skills needed to become a decisive leader:

  • Goal setting
  • Research
  • Initiative
  • Evaluation
  • Problem-solving
  • Risk-taking

Integrity

Having integrity goes beyond being honest or truthful. Often, it also means establishing and upholding a set of values. In the workplace, integrity usually refers to the ability to make ethical decisions and maintaining or improving the positive image of the company. Businesses in all industries are keen to hire people who demonstrate a strong commitment to integrity.

If you're a leader with integrity, you'll encourage your team members to practice honesty and fairness in everything they do because they look up to you as a role model. To develop a strong sense of integrity, you need to have the following traits and skills:

  • Honesty
  • Ethical decision making
  • Professionalism
  • Reliability
  • Diplomacy
  • Confidentiality
  • Accountability

Problem-solving

As a leader, you must be capable of solving issues that may arise during the course of a task or project. With good problem-solving skills, you can make quick decisions to overcome unexpected obstacles and ensure projects will be completed according to their specifications and schedules. As a result, you gain the trust and confidence of your employer and colleagues.

To solve problems effectively, you need to be able to stay calm and maintain a clear mind when you're under pressure. Additionally, you have to identify the cause of a problem and devise a step-by-step solution to the problem. The skills you need to become a good problem-solver include:

  • Calmness
  • Analytical thinking
  • Critical thinking

Team-building

A leader must be able to form and maintain a strong team of individuals who can work together harmoniously to achieve the same goal. Team building is one of the most important leadership skills because it enables you to ensure all of your team members clearly understand their roles and objectives. It also contributes to a positive work environment that enhances productivity and efficiency.

Building a good team requires other leadership traits and abilities such as active listening and management skills. It's also essential that you know the strengths and weaknesses of each individual in your team so that you can delegate tasks properly to achieve the best possible results. Examples of skills that can make you a better team builder include:

Dependability

A dependable leader is someone who is trustworthy and reliable. To be successful in a leadership role, you have to keep your promises and follow through on plans. Also, you need to be straightforward with your colleagues, complete your assignments and projects punctually, fulfill all of your obligations and have an effective backup plan if you fail to achieve a goal.

Dependability is an important skill because it can help you gain the trust of your team members and build strong relationships with them. A team with a dependable leader has the resilience and motivation to overcome difficulties and remain focused on accomplishing its goals. You can become a more dependable leader by developing the following skills:

  • Truthfulness
  • Loyalty
  • Integrity
  • Initiative
  • Timeliness
  • Attention to detail
  • Realistic goal setting
  • Accountability

Mentoring ability

The ability to mentor is a vital leadership skill that can set you apart from your colleagues. If you're able to teach your colleagues the skills they need to grow in their careers, you can play an important role in helping your company grow. Usually, this skill requires you to think less about yourself and more about the needs and goals of your team. To become a good mentor, you should try to hone these skills:

  • Assessment
  • Clarity
  • Helpfulness
  • Positive attitude
  • Motivation
  • Ability to recognise and reward

Ways to improve your leadership skills

You don't have to be a team leader or manager to develop and demonstrate leadership skills. For instance, being punctual for meetings or delivering consistent work quality is a way of showing you're a dependable person. Also, helping and teaching new colleagues is an example of your ability to mentor. However, a good way to become a better leader is to seek promotion to a leadership role such as supervisor, team leader or manager. In addition, you can do the following to improve your leadership skills:

Learn from books and other resources about leadership

Since they're soft skills, leadership skills can be developed through self-study. You can find a wide array of books that can help you better understand how to become a more effective leader. Alternatively, you may want to learn from the numerous videos and podcasts on leadership that are available for free online.

Attend leadership training workshops and courses

There are many online and in-person training courses that teach leadership skills. If you prefer a more hands-on learning method, in-person courses are a better option because they usually include practice sessions and role-playing.

Become the leader of a community group

If you're a member of a sports team, hobby club or church group in your community, you should try to become a leader of that group. Actually, leading is the best way to improve your leadership skills. If your community doesn't have a group that's dedicated to your favourite sport or hobby, consider starting your own. By doing so, you have the opportunity to plan activities, set goals and provide support to a group of people, which can make you a better leader.

Study leaders you admire

If there are leaders in your workplace or community whom you admire, you may want to take note of the traits and abilities they possess that make them effective leaders. Find out how you can learn and practice those skills in your daily life. It's a good idea to set specific goals to improve one skill at a time.

Find a mentor

Studying under a strong leader is one of the best ways to boost your leadership skills. If possible, approach a leader you respect and ask them if they're willing to teach you how to become a good leader. They can help you develop the right set of skills and use them properly, as well as find opportunities for you to take on a leadership role.

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