Business leaders have such hectic lives that finding the time to learn new skills, keep up with trends and engage in continuing education become an extreme challenge. After all, when you have to oversee an entire organization and make a myriad of decisions on a daily basis, career and personal growth often take a backseat.
But when you’re a leader, you should consistently hone your professional skills including your leadership skills. Keep in mind that as a leader, you’re expected to possess advanced adaptability skills, as well as think quickly and act decisively.
That being said, here are seven crucial leadership skills that you ought to develop.
1. Effective Communication
Great leaders know the importance of effective communication in their organization, from establishing the organizational goals and individual targets to creating and strengthening third party relationships. Effective communication also acts as an organizational glue in that it’s essential in establishing the trustworthiness, integrity, and credibility of the leader among his team members. Indeed, every great leader possesses the verbal and non-verbal communication skills necessary to inspire, instruct and discipline his subordinates.
As Ali Mirza, President of Rose Garden Consulting says, “Clients and employees are the lifeblood of your organization.” With them possessing a clear understanding of your shared goal, they are more likely to achieve it.
2. Active Listening
Effective communication, however, isn’t just about expressing your needs and wants in words and actions – it’s also about active listening! According to Andy Schwartz, the CEO of xtraCHEF, “the best leaders listen more than they talk” and it’s keen observation for many reasons.
Think about it. When you’re busy talking, you’re only reinforcing what you already know. But when you’re actively listening, you’re learning something new and it may be something that you can apply to productive purposes later on.
So, strive for a balance between talking and listening. If you think that you’re talking too much, then you’re likely doing so.
3. Sense of Self-Awareness
When you know yourself well, you’re not likely to be flattered by empty praises and blinded to your mistakes, much less be surrounded by “yes men” that cloud your objective judgment. There’s also the matter of getting an objective assessment of your job performance – the higher your position in the hierarchy, the more difficult it is to get it from the people around you.
You must then develop a stronger sense of self-awareness so that you know who and what you are, where you’re going, and why you’re going there, so to speak. You will also be more critical of yourself, a good trait to keep your feet on the ground.
4. People Skills
Even with the widespread use of technology, from smartphones to robots, it’s still people that move businesses! Every profit, recognition, and reward comes from people, too. This emphasizes the vital importance of people skills development, from making small talk to building a lasting relationship with colleagues, employees, and customers.
Also, your leadership should benefit the people you work with including your employees, customers, and vendors, as well as stakeholders. If it doesn’t translate to people-centric benefits, then you’re not really as great a leader as you think.
5. People Empowerment
In the same vein, great leaders provide their team members with opportunities for personal and professional growth, even when these opportunities may result in their departure from the organization. This has its benefits for the organization while the employees are still in it, not least of which is that their enhanced knowledge and skills will be used for its betterment. Building human capital always has its merits.
Repetition makes John a dull boy and it’s an adage that applies to business leaders whose creativity can become stunted due to the performance of repetitive tasks on a daily basis. But there will come a time when creativity is a must, such as when planning a marketing campaign or dealing with an unusual issue, and it isn’t there!
You must then strive to maintain your creativity in various ways. You can, for example, enjoy creative hobbies like painting and suggest unique solutions to otherwise ordinary issues.
While leaders also experience slumps – times when they aren’t inspired to work, not even be inspiring to others – they work through these down periods with a positive attitude. In most cases, they don’t show their bad mood to their team members since it can affect their morale but they take the time to calm down and regain their positive attitude.