What are leadership skills?

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Leadership is the ability to take control of a situation and lead others to work as an effective team. Leaders are critical people within organisations as they are drivers of progress:  they’re the ones taking initiative and empowering, inspiring and energising others to achieve a common, clearly defined, well-communicated goal.

Leaders come in many shapes in sizes, with different styles and utilising different techniques. Moreover, leadership skills are not reserved solely for the boardroom and are applicable and sought at all levels.

So what skills do you need to be a great leader? Regardless of your level or the situation you’re in, you’ll be expected to display the following:

1. Strategic & critical thinking
As a leader you need to have a clear sense of what you want to achieve and how you want to achieve it so that you can provide clear direction to others. To do this you need to think strategically, i.e. see the big picture, while also thinking critically about your objectives; researching information, carefully evaluating it and taking a creative and open-minded approach to problem-solving so you can plan out the best way to reach your goal.

2. Influencing & motivating
A leader is an influencer: someone who knows how to inspire people and can make them believe in their idea as much as they do. They also know how to motivate others by relating their vision to the needs and aspirations of those around them. The latter requires a level of emotional intelligence, which means acknowledging the thoughts and feelings of others, trying to see things from their perspective and adapting the way you communicate.

3. Directing & coordinating
You also need to be able to direct people to ensure objectives and deadlines are met. Good communication skills are key in achieving this as you need to give clear instructions and be able to put across the value of reaching certain goals. Coordinating is all about juggling different tasks which require careful planning and organisation.

4. Delegating & accountability
Delegation is key to a productive and well-functioning team. By delegating a task to someone you are giving them responsibility, which can help them stay motivated but don’t delegate at random. It’s important to always consider someone’s skillset when assigning duties. Be clear about exactly what is expected of them, maintain an open line of communication and remember that ultimately, you will be accountable for the outcome.

5. Mentoring & coaching
The best leaders understand the importance of investing time in mentoring and coaching their team to ensure every member has the necessary skills to do their job to the best of their ability. This means getting to know their goals and aspirations, giving them beneficial feedback and seeking out valuable opportunities for them. Not only will this increase the team’s overall performance, but it’ll also help to keep motivation levels high.

Earning an official leadership title usually takes time and commitment, but even before that, you can showcase your potential by respectfully communicating that you can see what needs to be done and collaborating with others to make sure goals are achieved.

Moreover, there are plenty of ways in which you can build your leadership skills outside of the world of work: taking on a leadership role within a (sports) club or society, running a volunteering project in your free time or taking charge of any other type of group project are all examples of ways in which you can flex your leadership muscles.

Source: HN Global.