Effective leaders inspire their team to perform their best, have a positive mindset, and focus on developing and empowering individuals. While there are many different styles and methods to leadership, there are some essential traits all leaders have in common. These are qualities anyone can learn and the key is identifying what skills you might be weaker in and work towards improving them. Here are some of the most important leadership skills and pointers on how to develop them.
Effective and Two-Way Communication
Communication is one of the most important skills for a leader to have and is just as much about clearly conveying information as it is encouraging their team to ask questions, provide feedback, and present new ideas. In an article on Forbes, they discuss some of the ways leaders can improve their communication skills including, “Listening more than they talk; taking an interest and investing in their employees as individuals; offering a safe, welcoming office or meeting space; respecting a team member’s time and offering focused attention; providing acceptance and encouragement of feedback”.
Another key leadership skill is cultivating an environment of trust. Like with communication, trust is a two-way street. Employees need to trust their leader if they are to follow their direction and put in their best work, and leaders need to trust their team, otherwise, employees will feel like they’re being micromanaged and stifled. In an article in Harvard Business Review titled, “The Neuroscience of Trust”, they state that “Compared with people at low-trust companies, people at high-trust companies report: 74% less stress, 106% more energy at work, 50% higher productivity, 13% fewer sick days, 76% more engagement, 29% more satisfaction with their lives, 40% less burnout.” An effective leader will give their team a clear direction and offer support but allow space for their team to accomplish the job on their own, stepping in only when necessary. This level of trust leads to more empowered and productive employees.
A leader’s disposition has a huge impact on their team and organization so having a positive mindset is essential. This doesn’t mean ignoring difficult situations, but overall focusing on strengths vs. weaknesses and creating a culture that celebrates small and large wins. A positive workplace has less turnover, lowered levels of employee stress, and higher engagement. In an article on Forbes, they provide a couple of examples of ways you can lead from a place of positivity saying, “Think carefully about the language you use, verbally and in writing. Use words with positive connotations – turning a “problem” into an “opportunity” being a prime example.” Additionally, “Celebrate successes, big and small. Highlighting the little wins frequently can be just as impactful as sporadically celebrating the big wins.”