The Skills You Need to Be a Successful Leader

The foundation of successful leadership is a set of specific skills. You may have earned a leadership position through a combination of knowledge, aptitude and hard work, but once you get there you need new skills and attributes as well. Here are some of the most important:

Security in yourself. Leading others is sometimes daunting, and it leaves you open to new levels of scrutiny and criticism. As a leader, you need to know who you are and be confident in yourself. Accept that you won’t please everyone and be prepared to take it in stride when people disagree .

Knowing when to take a stand. Every leader experiences moments when they have what feels like a great idea but the tides are against them. You need to be able to stand firm in your judgment and trust your own sense of direction, balanced with the humility to consider the opinions and those around you.

Getting people to buy into your leadership. Some people will respect you automatically as a leader; others may not be as welcoming. Some may even try to sabotage your leadership. Gain trust by committing to honesty and transparency, by stating clear expectations and goals, and by welcoming all ideas.

Managing your emotions. A leader who cannot manage their emotions well can wreak havoc on an organization, seriously damaging employee morale, retention and ultimately the bottom line. Every reaction you display as a leader–positive or negative–has the potential to influence the success of your team and organization.

Being philosophical about failure. Research says that successful leaders have made more mistakes in their careers than the people they were promoted over. Anything worth doing takes repeated effort, and failure is part of the process. You became a leader because you had the guts and smarts to lead, not because you’re  always right.

Learning to follow. Great leaders must be followers too. Becoming the a great leader means developing the leadership skills of those on your team, and that sometimes means putting a subordinate in charge of a project, supporting them while giving them room to succeed (or fail and then succeed) on their own.

Managing crisis leadership. During a crisis people are most in need of strong leadership and most appreciative to have it. Prepare in advance for every crisis that can hit, from a data breach to a natural disaster to an industry-wide downturn, so you can provide direction and respond in a timely and organized manner.

Embracing your leadership presence. To be a successful leader you need to learn how to lead with presence. That means developing the ability to take command of a room, to assume a leadership role in a variety of groups and settings, to share your thoughts and opinions with confidence, and to communicate persuasively, striking a balance between speaking and listening.

Lead from within: To be a successful leader you must have the skills to lead. Develop them now and they will serve you well throughout your career.



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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.

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Lolly Daskal is one of the most sought-after executive leadership coaches in the world. Her extensive cross-cultural expertise spans 14 countries, six languages and hundreds of companies. As founder and CEO of Lead From Within, her proprietary leadership program is engineered to be a catalyst for leaders who want to enhance performance and make a meaningful difference in their companies, their lives, and the world.

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,, 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.

  1. Rebecca Gardner

    29. May, 2020

    It made sense when you said that leaders need the right skills so they can be depended on in times of crises, such as after a data breach or industry downturn. In my opinion, it would be beneficial for managers to use a consulting service so they can get feedback on the skills they need to develop before a crisis hits. I enjoyed reading your article and learning more about leadership skills, so thanks for discussing this info!

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  2. Conor Neill

    20. Jul, 2020

    Thanks for a simple list. Simple is not easy… but a great place to start. I was struck with a sense that the core of it is “being ok with seeing those around you grow” -> the reduction in ego to the point that it is not important to me who is seen to achieve the outcome, but that we do achieve the outcome. It is important to be ok with others getting the credit… even if you know that you led the process.

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