Leadership skills refer to the abilities and techniques used by individuals to guide, motivate, and influence the behavior of others in order to achieve common goals.
They encompass a wide range of abilities, including the ability to communicate effectively, make sound decisions, inspire and motivate others, build and maintain relationships, lead by example, create a vision, set direction, adapt to change, manage conflicts, work under pressure, and importantly being humble.
A leader who possess these skills is able to guide their team towards a common goal, build a positive work environment and create a sense of purpose among their team members.
What are "Universal" leadership skills?
In this blog, I created a list of leadership skills that are important for most industries and situations.
Nevertheless, leadership skills may vary depending on the type of organization and the industry it operates in. Therefore, it’s important for a leader to be aware of the specific demands of their organization and industry and tailor their leadership skills accordingly.
1. Communicating effectively
Clearly and concisely convey ideas and information to others, both verbally and in writing. A leader must be able to communicate with their team, stakeholders, and other important parties in a way that is easily understood and actionable.
- Speak clearly and concisely
- Listen actively
- Write clearly and persuasively
- Tailor communication style to audience
- Use appropriate nonverbal communication
- Read More: Effective Communication For Leaders: The Key To Effective Leadership
2. Making sound decisions
The ability to analyze information, weigh options, and make informed decisions that are in the best interest of the organization.
- Gather and analyze information
- Consider multiple options
- Make decisions in a timely manner
- Communicate decisions clearly
- Read More: Mastering Decision-making: From Good to Great
3. Inspire and motivate others
Create a sense of purpose and enthusiasm among team members, and to lead by example.
- Communicate a clear vision
- Lead by example
- Recognize and reward good performance
- Encourage creativity and innovation
- Provide opportunities for growth and development
- Read More: The Heart Of Leadership: Inspiring And Motivating Your Team
4. Build and maintain relationships
Build and maintain relationships: The ability to establish and maintain positive relationships with team members, stakeholders, and other important parties.
- Build trust
- Communicate effectively
- Show respect
- Show interest in others
- Be reliable and consistent
- Read More: Building And Maintaining Strong Work Relationships
5. Lead by example
Setting a positive example for others to follow through actions and behaviors.
- Walk the talk
- Be accountable for own actions
- Lead with integrity
- Take responsibility for own mistakes
- Read More if you would like to know Why Leading by Example is Critical for Successful Teams.
6. Creating a vision
Imagine and articulate a preferred future state for an organization and inspire others to work towards it.
- Think creatively
- Communicate a clear and compelling vision
- Inspire and motivate others
- Create a sense of purpose
- If you’d like to read more about leading with a vision, consider reading my post about visionary leadership.
7. Adapt to change
The ability to be flexible and adapt to new situations and changing circumstances.
- Be open to new ideas
- Be willing to take risks
- Be able to pivot when necessary
- Be resilient in the face of change
- Read More: The Power Of Adaptive Leadership: Leading In Uncertain Times
8. Manage conflicts
Identify and resolve conflicts within the team or organization in a positive and productive manner.
- Identify conflicts
- Communicate effectively
- Be empathetic
- Be a good listener
- Be willing to compromise
- Read more: 5 Essential “Managing Conflict Strategies” For Leaders
9. Leading under pressure
Maintain focus and perform effectively in high-stress situations.
- Stay calm under pressure
- Prioritize tasks
- Communicate effectively
- Stay organized
- Stay focused on goals
- Read more: Leading Under Pressure: A Practical Survival Guide
10. Being Humble
Being humble is the ability to approach leadership with a mindset that is open to learning, recognizing and valuing the contributions of others, and being willing to admit mistakes. It allows leaders to be approachable, build trust, and foster a positive and collaborative work environment.
- Admit mistakes and take responsibility for actions
- Be open to feedback and new ideas
- Recognize and value the contributions of others
- Be willing to learn and grow
- Listen actively and be empathetic
- Be approachable and relatable
- Focus on the needs of team and organization, rather than personal gain
- Show gratitude and give credit where credit is due
- Read More: The Power Of Humble Leadership: How To Succeed Without Arrogance
Mastering the skills - start by being humble
It is almost impossible for a leader to master all these leadership skills. Each skill requires a significant amount of time, energy, and practice to develop and perfect. If you need more guidance, you can read the following blog: 12 Ways To Improve Leadership Skills And Enhance Your Career
However, being humble is a skill that is particularly important for leaders to master, as it forms the foundation for many other leadership skills. Being humble allows a leader to be open to feedback and new ideas, learn from their mistakes, and build strong relationships with their team members and stakeholders.
Additionally, being humble allows leaders to focus on the needs of their team and organization, rather than their own personal gain. Although it may be difficult for some leaders to adopt a humble mindset, it is a necessary and valuable skill for any leader who wants to be effective and successful.
These are some books about leadership skills that I recommend:
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey: A classic self-help book that teaches readers how to be more effective in both their personal and professional lives by developing key habits such as being proactive, setting goals, and communicating effectively.
“Leaders Eat Last” by Simon Sinek: A business book that explains how great leaders build trust and inspire their teams by prioritizing the well-being of their people, and how this creates a positive and productive work environment
“Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us” by Daniel H. Pink: A business book that examines the science of motivation and provides insights into what truly drives human behavior in the workplace.
“The Power of Vulnerability” by Brené Brown: A book that explores the connection between vulnerability, courage, authenticity, and leadership, and shows how embracing vulnerability is the key to unlocking greater creativity, connection, and success in all areas of life.
“The Five Levels of Leadership” by John C. Maxwell: A business book that explains the five levels of leadership and provides guidance on how to move up the ladder and become a more effective leader