As a leadership coach, I have found that leaders are usually measured more by who they are than what they do. Skills and reputation is incredibly important in leadership. And, as Warren Buffet once said, it takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.
No matter what great things you do, your leadership will be impaired if you’re not the person you should be and you are not doing what you should be doing. So what skills and attributes should a leader cultivate to build and to master their leadership? Here are the 10 that matter most.
Self-awareness. The most respected leaders know who they are and what they are capable of achieving. Self-awareness allows you to see your own patterns and consider whether they’re serving you well. It helps keep you honest with yourself so you can lead from within.
Integrity. Admired leaders don’t only talk about doing the right thing. Their actions match their words, and they do what is right, not what is easy. When they make a statement or decision, everyone believes that they will follow through. Integrity is the foundation of great leadership.
Emotional intelligence. Intelligence and technical skills can take you so far, but it’s emotional intelligence that allows you to reach the top. Emotionally fit leaders are able to manage their stress levels without taking their emotions out on their team. They’re also more empathetic and understand what makes other people tick, which in turn makes them better able to motivate and inspire them.
Communication. A respected leader is one who communicates well by email, on the phone, and face-to-face. People need to be able to grasp the purpose, the directions, and the end goal of any project in order for it to be completed successfully. Excellent communication skills are essential in establishing and maintaining a productive work environment.
Decisiveness. A big part of being a leader is decisiveness. That means the ability to apply your knowledge and instincts to make sound decisions on the fly. It also means that once you’ve made up their mind, you don’t hesitate to commit. Leaders who are consistent in their decisions, who rarely second-guess or change their minds, generate trust—not only from their team but from everyone around them.
Optimism. At the core of great leadership, leaders need to be champions for their organization and its mission, staying positive even in the face of setbacks. Leaders are most effective when they can stay motivated in tough times and remain positive when things go wrong, keeping their team’s spirits up and motivating them to keep achieving their best in any climate.
Humility. There is no more powerful leader than one who shows humility in their character. Great leaders admit when they are wrong and take criticism as an opportunity for growth. They are able to show how grateful they are to be where they are, and they treat leadership as an opportunity for service, not an excuse for privilege.
Delegation. Many leaders are perfectionists and have a hard time delegating, especially when they have a particular vision and are passionate about its execution. But the most effective leaders—those who truly understand what leadership is about—recognize that by delegating tasks to others, the workload is shared and team spirit thrives. They take care to assign the right task to the right person so that it can be completed correctly, effectively, and on schedule.
Flexibility. When a leader understands that everyone is different, they can be agile and adaptable when needed. An essential skill for great leaders is having the ability to adapt their leadership style to diverse situations and needs, maintaining a focus on their team as well as the bottom line. Staying at the cutting edge of any industry requires flexibility and the ability to adapt quickly to all kinds of changes, within and outside the organization.
Willingness to grow. I cannot stress this skill enough. Far too many leaders think the skills that got them there are the ones that are going to keep them there. But that is never the case. The best leaders are always coachable and teachable. They know they need support to stay on top and they need to grow to stay relevant as the world around them changes. Businesses want leaders with diversity and agility.
Lead from within. Leaders must master many skills, those that keep your reputation intact are among the most important—not only for yourself but those you lead.
#1 N A T I O N A L B E S T S E L L E R
The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness
After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.
Additional Reading you might enjoy:
- 12 Successful Leadership Principles That Never Grow Old
- A Leadership Manifesto: A Guide To Greatness
- How to Succeed as A New Leader
- 12 of The Most Common Lies Leaders Tell Themselves
- 4 Proven Reasons Why Intuitive Leaders Make Great Leaders
- The One Quality Every Leader Needs To Succeed
- The Deception Trap of Leadership
Photo Credit: iStockPhotos
Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR, Inc.com, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.