Introduction to Leadership Skills
Taking the leap into management positions can be a daunting challenge, but flourishing as a leader is significantly more complex. Consequently this tutorial in Leadership has been designed to help existing or aspiring managers to transition successfully.
We will be immersed in the key principles of leadership, motivation, self-awareness, emotional intelligence, teamwork, stakeholder management and more, enabling them to maximise their strengths and achieve their potential.
The following Leadership concepts are applicable to all industries and sectors, and for large or small organisations. The commonality is individuals seeking to grow and develop their leadership skill set.
What is Leadership?
The leadership qualities required to approach a new role may include confidence, determination and creativity. In order to motivate others, someone with leadership potential will have the ability to build relationships and coach effectively. Leadership skills are transferable from one context into another, both within and outside the workplace.
Becoming a leader
Many people aspire to a management role, however, in reality a high percentage of these people may not have the appropriate skills to succeed in a leadership role. The transition from employee to leader can be challenging and requires an individual with self-awareness and knowledge of their own strengths and weaknesses.
One of the key considerations when developing one’s leadership skills is an awareness of your own values and beliefs. In order to motivate others, you need to have the ability to build solid relationships with your teams. You will also need to be confident in motivating yourself through difficult times.
The following is a list of leadership qualities that are important for sustainable success. Understanding these qualities is fundamental for developing successful leaders:
Visionary Creativity/innovation (Innovation involves problem solving, forward thinking and resilience)
Inclusive leadership styles
There are a number of Leadership Styles which provide very useful information for understanding how leaders develop their actions. The use of these styles can be employed throughout the development process. We will cover each style in turn:
Visionary Leadership – A vision is a future, desired state of a team/organisation that is to be achieved through coordinated action. The visionary leader inspires and motivates others through the power of their own vision. This style suits those who aim for growth, achievement and success for an organisation.
Coaching Leadership – A coaching leader works to develop their teams by asking questions, listening and providing feedback. By focusing on the development of those around them, their impact will be greater than they might have anticipated given that it enables others to achieve more than they would if left to direct themselves only.
Democratic Leadership – Democratic leaders seek agreement before moving forward with decisions and ideas. They involve and enable team members in the decision-making process through their collaborative approach. This style suits team environments in which the leader is not in opposition to employees’ views or opinions.
Commanding Leadership – Commanding leadership involves taking responsibility for outcomes and ensuring that goals are met by working with the members of a team/organisation. The commanding style can be effective in crisis situations or where time is of the essence.
Leadership Styles and Approaches to Decision Making
In order to determine which leadership style one might adopt, it is important to consider the types of decisions leaders need to make. In general terms there are two distinctly different types of decision:
Type 1 – Leadership Decisions that require a specific action or response
Type 2 – Strategic Decisions that require contemplation and consideration of alternatives before action is taken.
This distinction is important to consider when selecting a leadership style, as the approach required for one type may not be suitable for another. This link provides further information on the types of decision making styles leaders use. Key considerations in this area are:
Type 1 – Helpful leadership styles (actions) and approaches:
Visionary (Creates a shared vision and enables others to achieve the vision through their empowerment. This style is best suited for those who seek growth, achievement and success.)
Advantage : This leadership style works well where there is little time as it can achieve results quickly. Disadvantage : This leadership style is not suited for those who seek a consensus as it works best when there is a clear vision and direction to move forward with.
Innovative (Working through change and new ideas, this leader will lead by example at all times.)
Advantage : The Innovative style works well in uncertain situations, where the plan of action is not yet known. The leader will be required to act quickly on new opportunities or ideas that present themselves. Disadvantage : This leadership style is best suited for those who are happy to take calculated risks, as they will need to act swiftly on opportunities which may make some mistakes along the way.
Democratic (This style is best suited for teams in which the leader works with employees’ views/opinions.)
Advantage : This leadership style works well where there is a team environment and the leader is not opposed to employees’ opinions. Disadvantage : This leadership style can be time-consuming if there are many barriers to overcome.
Authoritative (An imposing, authoritative leader who expects excellence and commitment from those under them.)
Advantage : This leadership style works well where there is a need for control and the leader may be required to make difficult decisions which will not please everyone. Disadvantage : This style can result in resentment where employees don’t feel valued.
Commanding (Taking responsibility for outcomes, this style ensures that goals are met.)
Advantage : This leadership style can work well in crisis situations or where time is of the essence. Disadvantage : This leadership style may not produce the best results if employees don’t like to be told what to do.
Type 2 – Ineffective leadership styles (inaction) and approaches:
Seductive (This leader uses charm and charisma to win others around.)
Advantage : This leadership style can work well where it is important to motivate others. Disadvantage : This style can result in a lack of stability within the group where others follow without commitment.
Individualized (This style is best suited for tasks where the leader can focus on their own performance.)
Advantage : This leadership style works well when individual responsibility is required and tasks are not group-focused. Disadvantage : This style can result in lack of engagement within the team where there isn’t a sense of group purpose.
Democratic (Similar to Seductive, this leader will also use charm and charisma to win others around.)
Advantage : This leadership style works well where there is a team environment and the leader is not opposed to employees’ opinions. Disadvantage : This style can be time-consuming if there are many barriers to overcome.
Helpful (This leadership style is used when the leader wants to avoid conflict and also be liked by those under them.)
Advantage : This leadership style works well where it’s necessary to win and maintain the respect and loyalty of others. Disadvantage : This leadership style can result in a lack of efficiency and effectiveness.
Loving (This is a caring influence which encourages employees to support each other.)
Advantage : This leadership style can work well where it’s necessary to encourage and motivate others on a social or emotional level. Disadvantage : This style works best when the group environment allows for mutual respect and team spirit.
Type 3 – Effective leadership styles (action) and approaches:
Efficient (This leader expects excellence and commits to results.)
Advantage : This leadership style works where the team requires direction and is required to achieve specific tasks. Disadvantage : This style can make people feel like they are simply following orders.
What are top leadership skills?
According to the Leadership Challenge, there are five essential leadership skills that every leader needs in order to succeed. These are often referred to as “the 5 practices of exemplary leadership.”
These are: Inspirational Motivation, Intellectual Stimulation, Individual Consideration, Congruent Decisions and Enabling Others to Act.
While this comprehensive list is useful and should certainly not be overlooked, it’s also worth noting that there are some other leadership skills that can greatly impact an organization. These skills may not fall within the five practices of exemplary leadership, but they’re still important to any leader.
Some of these include: Communication, Conflict Management, Decision Making and Teamwork.
What are the traits of a leader?
Traits, skills and behaviors – knowing what to look for and how to develop these in yourself and others is also an important part of becoming a better leader. Three key characteristics that can help you identify leaders include:
Initiative – While this can help distinguish those who simply want to be a leader from those that back it up with action, initiative can also refer to the ability to make proactive decisions and take on new opportunities without waiting for direction. A strong sense of self – Being able to maintain a clear sense of who you are as a person will help you determine what your priorities should be and how to prioritize them. Having a positive attitude – Even in difficult situations, a leader who can maintain a positive outlook and maintain the trust of their constituents is invaluable.
What are some good leadership skills to have?
When the topic of leadership comes up, many people immediately think of someone being in charge while others follow their orders. While this may be one aspect of leadership, there are many other skills that a good leader should possess in order to be successful.
Following these three key leadership skills will certainly make a difference:
Ability to inspire – While a strong leader must always have the respect of their team members, they must also be able to motivate others and get them excited about what they’re doing. Ability to lead by example – While a strong leader certainly has people looking up to them, they must also be willing to get their hands dirty and show others how it’s done. Ability to communicate well – A good leader needs to have the ability to not only listen better than anyone else in their organization but also express themselves clearly both verbally and in writing.
What makes a good leader?
There are many characteristics and personality traits that make someone a good leader, but what separates the best leaders from the rest of the pack?
First and foremost, it’s important to be confident in your abilities as a leader. Whether you’re leading one person or thousands, you have to know what you’re doing or they’ll quickly realize it and lose respect for you.
Good leaders are also able to work well in fast-paced, high-stress environments. They need to be unafraid to make decisions, even if that means occasionally having to reverse their position when things don’t go according to plan. They must be able to change with the times and adapt their leadership style when necessary.
What are some qualities of a successful leader?
According to an article on Forbes, there are certain leadership skills that will make you more likely to succeed in the position. These include:
Expert knowledge – If you’re leading others, it’s important to know what you’re talking about. This might include an area of expertise if you’re in a role that requires it or general knowledge that helps you take on your position with confidence. Thoughtful planning – A good leader spends their time researching, evaluating and anticipating change within their organization in order to be ready when things happen. Ability to thrive in chaos – If you’re in a leadership position, it’s likely that not only will the unexpected happen, but it might happen at any time. A good leader needs to be able to stay calm and think clearly under stress so they can make the right decisions for their team.
Trustworthy – Finally, being trustworthy is an important characteristic of a good leader. While you might get the job done no matter what, if your team doesn’t think you can be trusted to do it in an honest and ethical manner, they’ll lose faith in you.