Organisations would not be where they are without leaders' vision, drive, and motivation. Leaders have a huge part in the success of any business. They are one of the most significant drivers of growth, innovation, and development.
Good leaders possess a particular set of skills and personality traits that enable them to motivate, relate and inspire confidence among their team. There is no formula or recipe for the perfect leader. The skills and personality traits required often depend on the type of organisation and the company culture.
Finding and developing the right leaders can often feel overwhelming with no clear starting point. How do you identify whether a person has what it takes to be a leader? And how do you assess their leadership skills?
What are Leadership Skills?
Leadership skills are the unique skills you apply to become a successful leader. Whether in an executive management position or leading a small project team, you need to use specific skills to motivate others, set tasks, and make decisions. Leadership is not a single skill but a combination of several skills that amount to good leadership and the ability to guide successful teams.
There is no single set of important leadership skills as they tend to differ based on industry, organisational values or company culture. However, there are a set of common leadership capabilities that every leader should master to become successful. Some examples of leadership skills, include:
- Active listening
- Effective feedback
- Open communication
- Teamwork and team building
- Ability to teach and mentor
Why are Leadership Skills Important?
An effective leader has various leadership skills, traits and characteristics that encourage team members to follow them. Leaders naturally possess specific qualities, such as compassion and empathy, or learn leadership skills and traits through coaching, training and experience. Leadership skills are important as they contribute to the growth of teams, increase productivity and morale and inspire confidence.
Growth of Teams: A leader with effective leadership skills and attributes will contribute to the growth of teams through innovation and creativity. Leaders create a safe and collaborative culture where employees can trial new ideas without fear of failure.
Increased Productivity and Morale: There is a strong link between leadership and high morale. Leaders who build morale positively impact employees' well-being, efficiency and quality of work.
Inspire Confidence: Effective leaders inspire others to feel confident in their abilities and work. Leaders that inspire confidence also contribute to increased productivity and innovation.
How to Assess Leadership Skills
Leadership skills and attributes are vital to the success of organisations. Many businesses are investing in leadership development programs to build the leadership capabilities of current and future leaders. Before professionals embark on leadership training, they need to understand their current strengths and areas to develop. Two of the most effective ways to assess leadership skills and traits are a 360 feedback review and a DISC profile.
360 Feedback Review
One of the most effective ways to assess leadership skills is with a 360 feedback assessment. A 360 assessment for leadership will provide leaders with feedback from direct reports, peers, managers and other stakeholders. The data from the 360 leadership review provides leaders with a holistic of their current performance and skills they can develop to increase their effectiveness as a leader.
A DISC Profile is an objective way of assessing your natural behavioural style and leadership tendencies. There is no ideal disc profile for leadership. Any person with any DISC profile can be a successful leader. They first need to understand their DISC profile and natural approach to leadership. They also need to understand how to speed read the DISC personality type of their employees to respond to their priorities. The same leadership approach will not work for every employee. Each person has different preferences, some want a leader who chats with them, and others want a leader who will let them work independently. By being more aware of our behaviours and others' behaviours, we can fine-tune our leadership approach to be more successful.
How to Improve Your Leadership Skills
Several fundamental leadership skills are considered essential traits to help you become a more effective leader. Whether it's listening to those around you, developing critical thinking skills, or being open to learning opportunities, you need constantly be challenging and developing your capabilities to improve your leadership skills. Where do you begin to develop leadership skills? Here are the top five things you can do to improve leadership skills.
- Determine your Leadership Style
Each leader has natural leadership behavioural skills and strengths they naturally possess or have developed through experience. Leadership profiling tools will help you determine your leadership style. Understanding your leadership style allows you to identify your natural strengths and weaknesses, providing a starting point for a leadership development plan.
- Practice Critical Thinking
Critical thinking is one of the most highly sought after leadership skills in the workplace. Critical thinking skills support leaders to analyse information, foresee issues, arrive at conclusions and make sound decisions. Applying critical thinking in the workplace can set you apart as a leader and improve leadership skills.
- Engage in Effective Listening
Listening skills lead to increased information sharing contributing to higher productivity levels with fewer mistakes and conflict. Many successful leaders attribute strong listening skills to their success. Peter Nulty, an author of the National Business Hall of Fame, suggests listening skills is the most valuable leadership skill. "Most captains of the industry listen only sometimes, and they remain ordinary leaders. But a few, the great ones, never stop listening. That's how they get word before anyone else of unseen problems and opportunities."
- Invest in Coaching or Training
Leadership coaching empowers leaders to perform exceptionally. Leadership development initiatives such as coaching or training also benefit teams and the broader organisation. In a study of Fortune 1000 companies, 48% of leaders who underwent coaching exhibited increased work quality leading to higher engagement and productivity and improving their effectiveness in leadership roles.
- Be Willing to Learn
There is always room for growth and development! One of the most things you can do to improve your leadership skills is to be open to learning opportunities such as observing other successful leaders or accepting feedback.