Top 21 Leadership Skills for Career Success

by | Dec 13, 2019 | Career

10 Min Read. |

Whether you’re an executive chef at a Michelin-starred restaurant or a human resources manager at a multinational, the designated head always requires a set of leadership skills to manage a team. 

Though, the million-dollar question of what makes a good leader – in other words, what are leadership skills– remains open to debate.

According to the 34th President of the United States, Dwight D. Eisenhower, ‘Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.’

Why are Leadership Skills Important?

 Even though there is no one way to lead in all circumstances, but the ability to depends on some specific leadership skills. You could be at the entry-level position at an organization or seeking a promotion – your leadership skills will be your most valuable asset. Leadership skills can endorse you as a star candidate because these are highly sought out by employers and establish your interpersonal social competence.

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What are Leadership Skills?

 In simple words, leadership skills are the skills you use when organizing a team of people to reach a shared goal. They require you to motivate others to complete a list of tasks, often synchronizing with a fixed timeline or schedule. Leadership is not one but rather a combination of different skills that are intertwined together.

Here are the top twenty-one leadership skills that can be guaranteed to boost your career and help you climb up the proverbial ladder.

Top 21 Leadership Skills

1. Creating an Inspiring Vision of the Future

Business magnate and Apple Inc. co-founder Steve Jobs once said,

‘If you are working on something exciting that you care about, you don’t have to be pushed. The vision pulls you.’

Vision is a realistic yet convincing and attractive depiction of your future possibilities and goals. It prioritizes various objectives, provides direction, and sets a benchmark for what you want to achieve. A compelling vision is one that you can see, feel, understand, and embrace. Exceptional leaders have the power to inspire their team members by providing a rich picture of what the future will look like when they realize their visions. 

2. Learning Agility

 If you condition yourself to believe that there is nothing new for you to learn, then you will not learn anything new. To develop as a leader and a professional, you need to be in learning mode and value the lessons of experience. Various scientific studies and research provide evidence on how being in learning mode can enable career growth across our lifespan. Learning agility involves constructively learning from mistakes, putting forth insightful questions, and being open to feedback. It also includes picking up new and futuristic skills like Data Science & Digital Marketing for instance and taking advantage of opportunities to learn. Developing your learning agility can help you accomplish a long and fruitful career.

Leadership Skills

Source – Baker Communications Inc.

3. Communication

 Regardless of your position in an organization, you must express yourself clearly and succinctly to your co-workers and/or employees. An effective leader masters all forms of communication – departmental, full-staff and one-on-one conversations, as well as communication via phone, email, and social media. A large part of communication involves listening.

You must have heard the adage,

‘Listen with the intent to understand, not the intent to reply.’

We must make an effort to apply it diligently in our work environment. Active listening, business storytelling, articulating and actively participating in group conversations are a few important skills related to communication that one should make an effort to develop to enhance career possibilities and facilitate productive teamwork. 

 4. Self-Awareness

 Understanding our strengths and weaknesses can serve as a foundation for strengthening all our other leadership skills. Self-awareness can help us reflect on our experiences and gain essential insights. It’s critical to develop this particular skill. It shapes your interactions with others and reduces the likelihood of misunderstandings during critical communications as knowing your own identity can help you find common ground with others.

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5. Decisiveness

A strong leader possesses the ability to make quick and well-informed decisions. Decisiveness is a valuable leadership skill – it can increase the speed of project completions and improve overall efficiency. Quick decision-making develops over time. As you become familiar with your industry, you will make faster decisions, even in circumstances where there isn’t enough information.

6. Creativity

As professionals, we often face perplexing problems and what appear to be insurmountable challenges. When push comes to shove, you need to be able to think outside the box. Learning to try non-traditional ways can help you solve an unsolvable problem. Critical thinking, embracing different cultural perspectives, making abstract connections, and open-mindedness are some other skills related to creativity.

Leadership Skills

Source – Udemy

7. Flexibility

Someone who is rigid and inflexible faces a difficult time adjusting their sails to the winds of change. Whereas, a flexible person adapts easily to different situations.  As a professional or a leader, you need to accept changes in stride and tackle problems creatively. Being open to suggestions and feedback can result in positive improvements and tremendous growth in your career trajectory. The ability to solve new problems or issues, adaptability and improvising can help overcome and avoid even the slightest mishaps.

8. Responsibility

When we jump at the prospect of receiving credit for our successes, we must be equally willing to accept blame for our failures. Instead of pointing fingers when things go incorrectly, take responsibility for your mistakes.  It will not only help you earn respect, but also prove useful while devising plans for improvement. Recognizing our mistakes, evaluating the best solutions, forecasting, transparency, and resolving problems are some qualities that convey responsibility.     

9. Dependability

A good leader is someone dependable. Being dependable means that others can trust and rely on you. It also means that you follow through on plans and keep promises. The strong relationships created by a dependable leader builds a resilient team that can work through conflicts that may come up now and then.

10. Commitment

It leaves a good impression in the workplace when you accomplish what you agreed to do. You should be inclined to put in extra hours to complete an assignment; others will see this and follow your example. Commitment to company objectives, determination, perseverance, and prioritization to meet deadlines denote an exemplary work ethic. Other skills related to this include applying feedback and embracing professional development. Together, all these leadership skills appraise your role as a team player and leader in the eyes of others.

11. Problem-solving

Good leaders have exceptional problem-solving skills. Problem-solving requires staying calm and devising a step-by-step solution. Problem-solving skills like active listening, analysis and research can help you make quick decisions in the workplace and resolve obstacles with your team. Moreover, problem-solving skills ensure project completion within a specified timeline.

Leadership Skills

Source – Forbes

 12. Strategic Thinking 

 Perhaps the most crucial skill a leader requires – and what sets them apart from the rest – is the ability to think strategically. In simple words, this means having an idea of where you want to be and working to achieve the same. Strategic thinking is based on evidence and involves gathering and analyzing information from a wide array of sources. Good strategic thinkers always see the big picture. 

13. Planning and Delivery

 Besides being well-organized, it is perhaps even more important to be able to plan and deliver for the organization. The best vision in the world is useless without a concrete plan that can turn it into reality. Therefore, organizing and action planning are both essential for the delivery of your vision and strategy. It involves managing projects through the identification of broad actions required to achieve smaller tasks and intermediate milestones.  

14. Motivation

Good leaders know how to inspire their workers to go the extra mile for their organizations. There are various ways to motivate them – building their self-esteem through recognition and rewards and giving them important tasks and responsibilities – thereby increasing their investment in the company. Allowing employee autonomy, asking for input, assessing the interests of staff members, mentoring, providing rewards, thanking staff, and understanding employee differences are some leadership skills that result in effective motivation.

15. Delegating

Instead of taking on too many tasks by themselves, strong leaders delegate them efficiently. You need to identify the skills of each of your employees and assign them duties according to their respective skill sets. A good delegator knows how to allocate resources for employees, assess employee strengths and weaknesses, and match the task to the right employee. 

Leadership Skills

Source – The Aspen Institute

16. Positivity

 A positive attitude can go a long way in the workplace. The ability to laugh at oneself when something doesn’t go as planned can help create a healthy and happy work environment. Small acts of kindness like – raising morale among staff members and asking them about their day can develop a positive atmosphere in the office and enthuse employees to work better. In a positive environment, employees are much more likely to want to be at work even during emergencies when putting in long hours is required. Developing rapport with your workers, encouraging them, empathizing with their problems, providing a helping hand, and conflict management can help create a positive environment in the workspace.

17. Ability to Teach and Mentor

 The ability to teach and mentor is one skill that differentiates leadership from many other competencies. It requires that we think less of ourselves and more about how to progress as a collective team. Teaching colleagues or direct reports on how to boost their careers helps organizations scale.

According to British business magnate Richard Branson,

‘Mentorship is the key to unlocking each of our entrepreneurial spirits.’

A good mentor has the leadership skills to bring out the talent and ability in others, resulting in the overall growth and success of an organization as a whole.

Leadership Skills

Source – Business Times

18. People Management

 They say that without followers, there are no leaders. Therefore, leaders need skills in working with others on a one-on-one and group basis. Leaders and managers need to understand how to manage a team efficiently. It is of primary importance as it directly affects productivity and various task-related activities in the workspace. Effective leaders realize the importance of people and performance management. They have the practical know-how and ability to extract the best possible work from their employees and run a team smoothly.

19. Effective Feedback

 Irrespective of whether you are the chief executive or a junior employee at an organization, acquiring and providing useful information through effective feedback is of paramount importance. Being open to receiving feedback can go a long way in helping you improve your performance and accelerating your career planning. As a leader providing specific advice, listening to employees’ responses, clearly laying out expectations, mentoring, and positive reinforcement assists in giving clear feedback.

20. Change Management and Innovation

To lead an organization through different variations and shifts, you must understand change management. It requires the creation of a compelling vision and necessitates the change to be driven forward firmly. One particular element of change management is innovation – the ability to innovate and encourage innovations in others.

21. Persuasion and Influencing

Finally, one particular leadership skill that is especially essential in the workspace is being able to persuade and influence others. Good leaders understand the way others behave and create positive interactions. Emotional intelligence is a quality that leaders must possess as it proves useful in assessing employees and relating to them. How often have you required to persuade others to do something? In the workplace, it’s a situation that arises almost every day. Instead of forcing someone to do what they don’t want, the art of persuasion is to get them to want what you want.

Leadership Skills

Source – Medium

Showcase Your Leadership Skills

If being a leader is one of your career goals, you should make it a point to include leadership skills mentioned here in your resume.

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You could also incorporate them into your cover letter, job application, and interview. Provide specific examples of instances when you demonstrated these traits at work. Lastly, remember good leaders instill in their people a belief in themselves. Positive leaders empower people to reach their goals.

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