13 leadership skills you need to lead your team successfully

Powerful Leadership Skills

Introduction

Being a good leader is more than just being in charge – it means having a striking set of leadership skills.

From navigating through change to fostering effective team dynamics, leadership skills are pivotal in both professional and personal life.

In this article, you’ll explore 13 essential leadership skills that will help you lead your team effectively. Whether you’re aiming to climb the corporate ladder or seeking personal development, mastering these skills will set you on the path to becoming an exceptional leader.

But before that, let’s discuss what leadership is and why leadership skills are essential for you.

Want to be an adaptive leader? Check out our comprehensive guide on adaptive leadership!

What is leadership? 

Leadership is the ability to guide and motivate a group of people towards a common goal. It involves making decisions, setting an example, and inspiring others to do their best. Leadership is about earning trust, being fair, and helping others succeed.

But, how a leader is different from a manager?

The main difference between a leader and a manager is people follow a manager because they have to, but they follow a leader because they want to.

In both cases, the team follows the person in charge for guidance. But this minute difference in how a team perceives the person in charge makes a whole world of impact.

Under a leader, the team is happy, trusts their leader, and is willing to go the extra mile. On the other hand, under a manager who is not a good people leader, the team is frightened, hides things from the manager, and just wants to do the work that helps them survive the job.          

And it is not a secret that happy people are the best people for a business. It is because they are productive, feel a part of the company, and want to contribute to achieving business goals.

“Leadership is hard to define and good leadership even harder. But if you can get people to follow you to the ends of the earth, you are a great leader.” – Indra Nooyi, former chairperson and CEO of PepsiCo

Read more: Leadership vs management: What is the difference?

Why are leadership skills important?

Leadership skills are fundamental to the success of any organization. They help you lead and motivate teams towards achieving shared goals.  Here are a few reasons why leadership skills are so important:

  • Enhanced performance and productivity: Strong leaders can inspire and motivate their teams, making them feel like their contributions matter. This leads to a significant increase in both individual and collective performance. They cultivate a sense of purpose and responsibility, encouraging employees to exceed expectations.
  • Positive work environment: Effective leaders create a collaborative work environment. This builds trust and a sense of belonging among team members. Employees who feel respected and valued are more likely to be engaged and productive.
  • Strategic direction and problem-solving: Leaders set a clear vision and strategic direction for their team or organization. They can effectively analyze situations and make sound decisions. They also guide their teams through challenges and hurdles.
  • Innovation and change management:  Leaders who are open to innovation can inspire their teams to do the same. They are in a good position to handle change and lead their organizations to future success.
  • Talent attraction and retention: Employees like to work for organizations with strong leadership. Leaders who create a positive and empowering work culture can attract and retain top talent,  which is crucial for an organization to do well in the long run.

Top 13 leadership skills every leader needs in 2024

Leadership skills are the set of soft skills that help you effectively manage people and make decisions. 

13 leadership skills every leader needs
Leadership skills

Here is the list of the top 13 important leadership skills that you need in the workplace to become an effective leader:

1. Effective communication

One common quality of all good leaders is that they are very good speakers. They are capable of moving the masses with their speech. A leader needs to have good communication skills in the workplace.

It helps you deliver the message, explain the vision, and share information with the team to work together effectively on a project.

Usually, the emphasis is on the verbal communication skills. However, in the age of remote work, written communication skills have also become equally important for collaboration. Thus, a leader should be good in both modes of communication. Apart from that, as a leader, you should be aware of non-verbal communication that communicates through body language, facial expressions, and tone.

How to improve

You can practice active listening. Be open and approachable, use clear and simple language, and always provide context. Tailor your message to your audience and be mindful of your non-verbal cues.

Read more: Best Internal Communication Tools To Boost Collaboration

2. Delegation

A leader cannot do everything on their own, even if they want to. Thus, one of the most basic skills needed to be a leader is to delegate tasks. It helps you shed some burden off your shoulders, utilize resources efficiently, and save time to focus on more important tasks. This results in effective time management and stress management.

It includes identifying who on the team is best suited for new accountabilities. For that, you need to know the skills of each of your employees and assign duties accordingly.

How to improve

As a leader, you need to communicate expectations with your team members. 

  • Provide them with necessary resources and offer support. 
  • Assign tasks concerning team members’ strengths and provide clear instructions. 
  • Encourage questions and feedback so that there are no doubts or misinterpretations.

Read more: Best Task Management Tools & Software

3. Decision-making

An average adult makes 36,000 decisions in a day.

I am not saying they all are related to work, but a leader has to make a decent number of decisions in a day. Without the comprehensive ability to think, it is hard for a leader to make rational decisions. Thus, you need good decision-making and strategic thinking skills for optimal productivity. 

For that, you need good analytical and critical thinking skills

Analytical thinking is defined as the ability to find an outcome based on the data gathered by analyzing it. Whereas, the purpose of critical thinking is to make a judgment based on analysis, reasoning, and logic.

The major difference between the two examples of leadership skills is that you refrain from questioning data, identifying biases, and trying to think objectively in analytical thinking. But in critical thinking, you weigh evidence carefully, analyze information from multiple perspectives, and consider different points of view. 

Both form the basis of problem-solving and decision-making skills of leadership. 

How to improve

To make well-informed decisions, you can start by gathering relevant information. Then consider potential outcomes, and seek input from your team. Trust your instincts and rely on critical thinking and logic.

4. Motivation

Motivation is all about inspiring your team members to work towards a shared vision. When you motivate your team, you boost their morale, increase productivity, and create a positive work environment.

According to a survey by Great Place to Work in 2023, workers identified recognition as the most motivating factor for great work.

This makes it clear!

You need to recognize and appreciate your team’s efforts and achievements to motivate them.

How to improve

Provide opportunities for growth and development, such as training or mentoring programs. Moreover, you can offer meaningful rewards and incentives for reaching targeted goals.

Read more: 5 surefire ways to keep employees engaged and motivated

5. Empathy

“Leadership is about empathy. It is about having the ability to relate to and connect with people to inspire and empower their lives.” – Oprah Winfrey

Empathy lets you understand and share the feelings of your team members. When you can connect with your team on a deeper level, it builds trust and loyalty and leads your team to success.

As a leader, you need empathy to see things from your team’s perspective. This helps you make decisions that consider their feelings and concerns, making them feel valued and understood.

How to improve

You need to be an active listener and put yourself in your team’s shoes. Show genuine interest in their thoughts and ideas, and take the time to understand their experiences. Also, practice expressing appreciation and support for your team to show that you understand and care about them. This will help you strengthen your empathy and create a more connected team.

6. Strategic thinking

“Strategy is not the consequence of planning, but the opposite: its starting point.” – Henry Mintzberg

Strategic thinking is important for being a good leader. It can be really frustrating if a leader makes their team work without a good plan. Thinking strategically means not only setting big goals but also thinking about what could go wrong and having a backup plan. 

Being strategic means planning everything in advance. The idea is to think first and then make a plan. You can practice strategic thinking by playing chess or other brain games like Lumosity and Elevate.

How to improve

If you want to be a strategic thinker, you need to focus on long-term goals, anticipate challenges, and consider various scenarios. You also need to stay informed about industry trends and evaluate risks and opportunities.

7. Conflict resolution

As a leader, you need to keep things running smoothly in your team. It means you have to address conflicts before they become really bad. Also, you have to work with people of different personalities, working styles, and communication preferences. Thus, you need good conflict resolution skills to handle team conflicts.      

It includes the ability to resolve conflicts using dialogue, listening to everyone patiently, finding solutions, staying unbiased, and making firm decisions.

When you’re good at resolving conflicts, you can keep your team focused on their goals and moving forward.

How to improve:

Try to understand all points of view, remain calm, and encourage open communication. You can practice empathy, seek common ground, and focus on solutions rather than blame. Also, embrace constructive feedback and continuously refine your approach to build a harmonious work culture.

8. Feedback

80% of employees claim they are fully engaged if they receive meaningful feedback.

Thus, you should know how to give feedback to your employees. It is one of the most effective leadership skills because feedback provides you with an opportunity to make improvements. If something is not going well, feedback is the way to make improvements. 

Not just that, if you want to improve as a leader, feedback acts as a great source of insights from the employees to make improvements. It requires open-mindedness and social skills to receive feedback positively.

How to improve 

When you are giving feedback to your team members, be specific about it. Use clear examples to explain your points and offer constructive suggestions for improvement. You can also encourage open dialogue and active listening to create a supportive feedback environment. This will help you foster growth and development within your team.

Do you know performance management tools can help you streamline the feedback process? Check out the top performance management tools!

9. Relationship building 

“Leadership is something you earn, something you’re chosen for. You can’t come in yelling, ‘I’m your leader!’ If it happens, it’s because the other guys respect you.” – Ben Roethlisberger

As a leader, you need to build relationships with your team members to earn their trust and respect. This will boost their morale and create a cooperative environment. When your team feels connected and valued, they’re more motivated and productive.

You need to get to know your team members on a personal level. Show genuine interest in their lives and listen to their concerns. You can also encourage open communication. Be approachable so that your team feels comfortable coming to you with any issues.

How to improve

You can start by organizing team-building activities to foster a sense of unity and camaraderie. Recognize and appreciate your team members’ contributions, and create opportunities for them to bond and collaborate. By doing so, you can make a more cohesive and successful team.

10. Agility and adaptability

Things rarely go as planned. There is always an element of uncertainty involved in the real world. Adaptability and agility are the business leadership skills that you need to build an agile mindset. 

Adaptability ensures that you are capable of changing and adjusting to new conditions. Whereas, agility ensures you have the mindset to be able to change or adapt. It means if a situation demands you to do more or less, rather than sticking to your prejudices you are capable of responding to changing requirements.

How to improve

As a leader, you need to keep up with the latest trends and stay flexible so you can adjust your plans when necessary. Emphasize quick decision-making and be willing to take calculated risks to handle changing situations effectively.

11. Innovation and creativity

The reason people follow a leader is because they provide the solution to the problem that others are not able to figure out on their own. Thus, you need to have creative thinking and a visionary mindset to become a good leader.

You should be able to think out of the box with innovation or see a problem in a unique way to find solutions that are not visible. Also, being a visionary means you need to take risks or go on paths that were not explored earlier. You need to have good risk management skills and courage.

How to improve 

First, create a culture of open communication among your team members. Then encourage them to share their diverse perspectives. Continuous learning is the key, look for inspiration from various sources, and don’t be afraid to take calculated risks. Keep challenging the status quo and stay open to new ideas.

Ready to minimize risks? Discover the ideal risk management software for your needs!

12. Time management 

“Until we can manage time, we can manage nothing else.” — Peter F. Drucker

Effective time management helps you complete tasks on time and meet project deadlines. By managing your time effectively, you can prioritize tasks. Also, it lets you allocate resources and plan project timelines.

Without good time management skills, you may struggle to keep up with the demands of the project. This will ultimately lead to delays, missed deadlines, and budget overruns.

How to improve  

Set SMART goals for yourself and your team members. This means you need to create goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. You can also use time-tracking tools to monitor and analyze how much time you spend on tasks. This will allow you to make adjustments and work more efficiently.

Read more: 12 Time management tips for work to achieve more

13. Critical thinking

“If you want to succeed in 21st-century business you need to become a critical thinker” — John Baldoni

Critical thinking helps you make informed and effective decisions. It generally involves three steps- you analyze information, then question assumptions, and last evaluate evidence to reach logical conclusions.

With critical thinking, you can identify potential problems and risks, anticipate challenges, and develop innovative solutions.

How to improve  

You can encourage your team members to share their thoughts and ideas. This will bring diversity to the project. Plan ahead by evaluating different scenarios and their potential impacts on the project. You need to keep a curious mindset and always seek to understand why things are the way they are.

How to develop leadership skills?

You can practice leadership skills in any role and at any level. You just need to be punctual and meet deadlines to show dependability. Plus, you can offer support and coaching to less experienced colleagues. If you’re interested, you can also look for leadership roles to develop and practice these skills.

Here are some ways you can develop your leadership skills:

1. Self-assessment

Self-assessment helps you understand yourself better and gives you a clear picture of what you’re good at and what you need to improve on as a leader. You can also learn about your leadership style. By knowing these things, you can focus on developing and honing your leadership skills to become an even better leader.

2. Learning resources

There are plenty of resources out there to help you develop your leadership skills. You can look out for,

Books and articles on leadership development: provide valuable insights and tips. There are books for every learning style, from beginner guides to in-depth explorations. Here are some recommendations for you to start with:

Leadership training courses and workshops: offer structured learning experience. You can look for these programs on online platforms. They often involve interactive sessions, allowing you to practice your skills and get feedback from experts. Some popular courses are:

Mentorship and coaching: A mentor or coach can offer guidance, answer your questions, and celebrate your successes. This could be a manager you admire, a colleague with experience, or even someone outside your organization.

3. Seeking feedback

When you ask your colleagues and superiors for feedback, you learn what you’re doing well and what you can improve on. This helps you grow as a leader as you can make changes and become even better.

4. Taking on new challenges

When you take on new challenges, like volunteering for leadership roles and projects, it helps you develop your leadership skills. It gives you the chance to learn how to lead a team, make decisions, and take on more responsibility, which can be really valuable for your personal and professional growth.

5. Practice, practice, practice

Keep practicing your leadership skills regularly in real-life situations. The more you practice, the better you’ll get at leading others. By putting your skills to use over and over again, you’ll become more confident and effective as a leader. It’s like any skill – the more you do it, the better you become. So, jump into leadership opportunities whenever you can.

Conclusion

You are as good as the people who work for you. But in the absence of quality leadership, even the best assets are not able to perform. Quality leadership ensures your team trusts you, is happy working as a team, enjoying their work, and is willing to go the extra mile if required.

Being a leader, it is your responsibility to ensure that you perform your duties appropriately. Building core leadership skills is a good step towards it.

Read more similar articles to master your role as a manager:

FAQs

What is the difference between a leader and a manager?

The main difference between a leader and a manager is that the workforce follows a leader because they want to, and follows a manager because they have to. A leader is someone who gains the trust of the team following them.

What are the 7 core skills of a leader?

The seven core skills of a leader include communication, decision-making, conflict resolution, relationship-building, negotiation, creativity, and delegation.

How do you develop employee leadership skills?

The best way to develop employee leadership skills is to train them and provide them the opportunity to lead. Paired with learning resources, it can help employees develop leadership skills.

What are the effects of poor leadership?

The most prominent effects of poor leadership are a lack of sense of ownership, disengagement from the work, and lack of motivation. This leads to decreased productivity and wasted efforts, time, and money.

What are the signs of poor leadership in the workplace?

The top signs of poor leadership in the workplace include poor communication, lack of accountability, and misuse of authority. People under a poor leader are misguided and frightened.

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