Many people assume that the qualities of good leadership are innate or are otherwise not learnable, but this isn’t true. In fact, there are seven key skills all great leaders should have and learn to use effectively. When you read this list, you may even realize you already possess some of these skills. The trick, then, is to use them effectively and make sure you’re using the others in such a way that they complement your existing leadership skillset. Keep reading to find out what these seven must-have skills are!
Good leaders inspire trust in others. If your employees don’t trust you, they’ll be more hesitant to follow your vision or direction. When people trust each other, they have better work relationships and are willing to take on new tasks and responsibilities without hesitation. So how do you establish trust? In every interaction—whether it’s in person or through email—it’s important to listen attentively and keep an open mind to what others have to say. Let them know that their opinions matter by really taking into account their thoughts and feedback when making decisions. This can make all of your employees feel valued at work.
Good communication is an important leadership skill. Don’t assume everyone understands what you’re saying—say it again in another way. Make sure your communication is as clear and concise as possible and speak to each person on his or her level. There will inevitably be someone who doesn’t understand, so take a moment to explain things clearly to make sure everyone knows what they are supposed to do. Additionally, communicate all expectations clearly at the start of each task and share updates regularly—don’t assume people know everything that is going on. With good communication skills, it’s easier for team members to feel more ownership of projects and for leaders to gain buy-in from team members when necessary changes need to occur.
Leaders know what they want and aren’t afraid to take charge. While it may seem like leaders are born, not made, that’s only partially true. Great leaders know how to motivate others and provide clarity on what they want. They also don’t hesitate to tell employees when they’re wrong and make it known what behavior is acceptable in their organization. Great leaders empower team members by sharing more information so everyone understands how their efforts contribute to a larger goal.
Good leaders are always working to improve their leadership abilities. But in many cases, they’re not making enough of an effort to seek out feedback from their co-workers and superiors. Instead of relying on your own instincts when it comes to how you’re doing as a manager, ask others for advice and input. Listen closely to what your employees have to say about you—they may be able to help guide you down a better path if your current course isn’t panning out as well as expected.
Provide support to your team members—not just criticism
We all need honest feedback—but that doesn’t mean we all want to hear it. There’s a difference between feedback and criticism. Criticism is most often what you get from someone who hasn’t earned your trust. Great leaders provide feedback from time to time—that is one of their top responsibilities. If you really want to make your team members feel valued and heard, ask them how they like working with you; then take note of any constructive criticism they have for you. No matter what anyone says about being tough or easy on your employees, maintaining an open dialogue where everyone has an opportunity to speak up will go much further in establishing true respect than treating people as disposable cogs in a wheel.
Know when it’s time to let go
The best leaders know when it’s time to let go. Just because you are in charge doesn’t mean you always have to take care of everything yourself. Learning how to delegate is crucial for your success as a business owner, especially when you start getting bigger and bigger clients. Taking on too much work by yourself may get you there faster—but it also takes longer and burns you out faster than delegating tasks to others who are able to perform them at an equal or higher level than yourself.