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15 Essential Leadership Skills for Better Work

What are leadership skills?

When you reflect on your favorite manager or team leader what leadership skills come to mind?

Are they kind, encouraging, or dependable? Or perhaps they have stellar problem-solving, communication, or listening skills?

Regardless of the leader you thought of, it’s likely they embody a number of leadership traits that make them an effective leader and inspire you to be a better leader as well. When we consider the leadership skills definition, leadership skills are the strengths and abilities someone uses to influence, motivate, and enable others to contribute to the success of their team or organization. So, if you can bring about or inspire change, you’re a leader regardless of what your title, experience, or team structure looks like. This means that we all have the opportunity and responsibility to improve different types of leadership skills.

The Importance of Leadership Skills

When different team members display various characteristics of effective leadership, everyone wins. By demonstrating and developing leadership skills, others are inspired to do the same. This creates a winning company culture and sets the tone for the type of work and leadership that everyone should strive for. Let’s unpack a few different reasons why leadership skills are so important.

They motivate the team’s overall productivity.

Effective leadership skills are key to providing focus and clarity on a team. Great leaders can clearly explain objectives so everyone understands their team’s shared goals. The characteristics of a manager and leader also help keep teams on track and overcome obstacles so that they can finish various tasks, try new projects, and perform like never before.

They improve employee retention.

Have you heard the phrase, “people don’t quit their jobs, they quit their managers?” Those who truly display the characteristics of effective managers and leaders are more likely to retain top talent. Employees who feel supported, valued, and respected by their leaders are more likely to stay with an organization and learn what it means to be a great leader from that manager and from their peers.

They increase engagement and collaboration.

Another characteristic of effective leadership is this—leaders know how to encourage and instill a spirit of collaboration amongst their team. Leaders who actively listen to their teammates and create a safe space for collaboration foster an environment where everyone has the confidence to ask questions or share feedback. This creates a mutual level of respect, trust, and high morale for everyone.

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15 Effective Leadership Skills

Whether you’re in an entry-level role, moving up the career ladder, or managing a team of ten, your effective leadership skills are your most valuable asset. Every single leader needs leadership skills to help them interact with other people, tackle big projects, and encourage their team to Do Better Work. Here are the top 15 effective leadership skills in the workplace.

Active listening: Active listening truly helps us understand what people are saying in conversations and meetings. Active listening redirects focus from what’s going on inside our heads to the needs of your teammates.

Positivity: Positive leaders foster feelings of support and safety. They also have the greatest success in productivity as they’re able to motivate their team towards a goal.

Nonverbal communication: Nonverbal communication refers to gestures, body language, and facial expressions that people use to communicate without using their words. Great leaders can easily identify nonverbal cues during conversations and decode how teammates really feel in a situation.

Verbal communication: Verbal communication is just as an important leadership trait as nonverbal communication. Every job requires leaders to use communication skills and the stronger your communication skills, the more likely you are to convey information clearly and effectively.

Asking for input: Strong leaders ask for help. Weak leaders hesitate asking for help or input. Great teams and leaders ask others for input and gain buy-in for overall success.

Coaching: Leaders build people up and develop them through one-on-one coaching. Effective coaching helps people grow in their careers and requires leaders to think less about themselves and more about the team as a whole.

Recognizing others: Recognition goes a long way. An effective leader never forgets how important a genuine “thank you” is.

Team-building: Leaders also know how to build and maintain a strong and collaborative team. This skillset requires a strong foundation of other leadership skills, like effective communication and conflict resolution.

Prioritizing tasks: Prioritizing tasks and delegating responsibilities are crucial responsibilities for leaders. Great leaders know they shouldn’t try to complete every task. Once they determine what should be completed, they also know how to instruct their team members on a task that makes them feel empowered to accomplish it.

Time management: Time management skills, which means working efficiently, are in high demand. Leaders not only know how to best manage their time, but also help others analyze their workload and maintain focus over time.

Decisiveness: Effective decision-making is a leadership trait that comes with time and experience. As you become more familiar with your organization or industry, you’re able to make decisions faster and explain why you made such a decision.

Problem-solving: Problems are inevitable, and good leaders are skilled to solve issues as they arise. This also means that leaders know how to remove obstacles for others to ensure tasks are completed on time.

Conflict management: Strong conflict management skills are extremely advantageous. While disagreements are unavoidable, conflict management leadership skills help us resolve issues in a tactful and effective manner.

Empathy and emotional intelligence: Empathy and emotional intelligence are key leadership traits that are frequently overlooked. A high level ofemotional intelligence enables leaders to deal with different situations effectively and objectively while sensing how others feel.

Dependable: Being a dependable leader means that people can trust and rely on you—no matter what. A dependable leader follows through on plans, keeps promises, and builds strong relationships.

It’s important to know that this list is not a comprehensive leadership qualities list. Different companies and teams may have a different list of leadership skills that they believe are the most important. Some companies may also use the term “leadership characteristics” interchangeably with “leadership skills.” In fact, you’ll likely find many of the leadership traits on this list as one of the 5 characteristics of a good leader.

How to Improve your Leadership Skills

Do any of the leadership traits that we shared stand out as something you’re ready to work on and improve? There are a ton of tips, great tools, and resources for developing leadership skills. Here are a few to consider.

Identify your leadership style

There are 4 types of leadership styles that are most common in today’s workplace. By identifying your most common type of leadership style, you’ll be able to understand your strengths and identify weaknesses. By doing this, you’ll become a more effective leader and empower yourself to work on your weak points while maximizing your leadership skills and strengths.

Find resources like books and podcasts

Leadership is a hot topic for online articles, books, TED Talks, and podcasts. These resources are also a budget-friendly way to improve your leadership skills, learn about leadership trends, and explore the topic of leadership overall.

Get a mentor

Mentors can help you develop leadership skills by gaining valuable advice from someone who has more experience than you. A mentoring relationship is a powerful way to accelerate learning and make valuable connections as mentors provide candid feedback when others may not. Mentors are also a great source of encouragement and moral support.

Attend a leadership skills development class

If you’re looking for a more hands-on experience you should consider a leadership skills development class. These are facilitated by consultants, universities, and leadership organizations and cover a variety of topics to hone your skills and empower you to lead better.

Plan leadership skills training activities for your team

It can also be fun and engaging to improve your leadership skills with other members of your team. Consider creating a cohort on your team to discuss leadership topics or take part in role-play scenarios. This group can be formal or informal, but regardless of how you structure it, it can give you the chance to grow and develop camaraderie with your other teammates.

Leadership Skills Training Online

Additionally, you can improve their leadership skills through online leadership training. Leadership skills training online provides a flexible and engaging training environment. Online leadership training gives you the opportunity to take leadership lessons at a time that’s convenient for you. It’s also a great way to refresh your memory and skills during a particular situation or challenge. There’s a good chance that you may want or need to improve a different set of leadership skills than your colleague and online leadership training enables you to take lessons that tackle topics and skills of your choice.  

The Lessonly team is biased, but we completely love online training. While there are plenty of free online leadership training resources, we think the best leadership training happens when it’s specific to you and your organization. That’s why we offer purpose-built training software that makes it easy for customer service and sales leaders to learn, practice and perform like never before. Learn more by getting a quick demo today!