You may have come across those who think that leadership is an innate skill. Yes, for some, it appears to come easier, but the truth is, like many other skill sets it can be coached and learned. Too many of us though disregard this fact and hold on to the myth that we are simply born with leadership qualities. Perhaps this explains why so few newly promoted leaders are actively supported to develop and grow their people development, or “soft” skills. Yet it is these very skills that will help them the most to get the best thinking and efforts from others…and this truly is what a leader’s work is all about.
A leader’s job first and foremost, is to fully engage the talent and minds of those around them. This is the foundation of innovation, creativity and the competitive edge in any business. Yes, you can lead by command and control tactics, but the best results always come when your team is able to fully tap into their own sources of imagination and problem solving. This is why leadership training, mentoring or coaching is so valuable. It helps leaders to develop the skills they’ll need to inspire their teams and to achieve better bottom-line business results.
The Soft (But Essential!) Eight
Here’s a list of eight must-haves a leader must learn in order to get the best from others:
- Ability to listen – if you’re not listening, you’re missing out on potentially vast amounts of information that can drive better business results. You’ll also boost engagement as people will feel that their thoughts and ideas are valued.
- Be a champion of team work – no business does well when everyone feels they are working alone. Knowing how to effectively draw people together towards common goals creates a synergy that blows away individual efforts.
- Creates a learning culture – companies that value learning outperform those that don’t. People-focused practices such as building learning capacity, knowledge accessibility and professional development bring the greatest financial rewards.
- Enables a culture of open communication – in today’s business world, communication is key. Processes that facilitate this open environment are crucial to a company’s success. Your ability as a leader to encourage feedback from the bottom up will yield increased innovation, team building and better project results.
- Humility – humility gives a leader the candor to be honest with their team and change course if necessary. An ego driven leader puts personal pride first, and business results can tank.
- Willingness to take risks/fail – risk and failure are the keys to innovation. New ideas must be tried on the road to finding the solution that sticks. After determining the potential benefits outweigh the potential dangers, a leader must be willing to take the plunge.
- Persistence – things do not always come easily and leaders must be willing to stick to something until they succeed. That being said, a leader must be able to recognize when they are fighting a losing battle and resort to Plan B when that point is reached.
- Recognition of others – perhaps one of the most important skills any leader can have is the capacity to pay attention to other’s efforts and accomplishments. Nothing does more to someone’s sense of value and purpose than having their efforts recognized.
A leader who has harnessed the power of these attributes will demonstrate the greatest commitment to their human capital and will enjoy a level of personal and business results that can be achieved no other way.