Want to Be a Great Leader? Master These 7 Skills First

There are many ways to define a great leader and many skills to master should you wish to be called one yourself.

It’s true to say that some people are natural leaders but it is also true that leadership can be learned. Here are seven core skills that you must add to your toolbox if you wish to succeed as a leader.

Goal Setting
The ability to set goals is one of the core competencies of an effective leader. Primarily, goals give you a sense of direction but the benefits go much further than knowing how to direct your team. As a leader, goals offer the answer as to what to do next, allows you to assess your team’s performance against agreed targets and KPIs, and enables you to increase your own and your worker’s efficiency.

No true leader insists on maintaining all control of all things. That approach is counterproductive and flies in the face of the definition of a leader. The most effective leaders have mastered the art of delegation. Doing so properly means that you are empowering and developing your people and fostering a collaborative work environment, all of which is characteristic of great leadership.

Decision Making
The ability to make a decision is often considered to be the cornerstone of effective leadership. As a leader, those working underneath you and those above you who have asked you to improve the organisation’s bottom line trust you to take charge and make important decisions. You may not always make the right decision but it is important that you are able to make one anyway; a leader can always decide to take a different path.

It is impossible to become an effective leader without first becoming a great communicator. That doesn’t mean mastering the art of talking; most people can do this perfectly well. A leader will offer integrity and honesty when they speak but, more importantly, they will know when to listen. They will understand that clarity - being specific as opposed to ambiguous - will improve their communication skills, as will improving their ability to read between the proverbial lines.

Time Management
From managing a team, to looking for new sales and marketing opportunities and securing new vendors, leaders often find themselves having to spin many plates. If you fail to manage your time effectively, those plates will soon come crashing down, so it is easy to see why time management is a core skill of leadership. By making better use of your time, you will likely inspire your team to do the same.

Problem Solving
Your ability to solve problems will have a significant impact on your success as a leader. While it is important that you permit your team to solve their own problems, the buck typically stops with you. Most problems can be solved by applying a simple four-step approach: defining the problem, identifying potential solutions, evaluating and selecting from the possible solutions, and implementing your chosen approach.

Relationship Building
Leaders must possess the ability to nurture relationships with employees, key suppliers and customers, and peers. As you climb the leadership ladder, this list may expand to include stakeholders, funders, the media, and trade bodies. In this respect, leadership can be viewed as the outcome of several relationships. When you build meaningful relationships with others, you are far better placed to work effectively together.

Everyone can learn to lead. You can get a head start by mastering these seven core leadership skills. The Executive Leadership course from the International Coaching Academy introduces and develops these and other essential skills.

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