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Leadership skills are an integral part of developing leadership. Unfortunately there is no such thing as a universal set of leader traits or skills that will be optimal in all organisations and situations. Far more important than learning the skills of leadership is the application of those skills into the specific environment, as the fit of those skills with the context seems to be the best indicator of leadership success (see our blog as to why all the available research only seems to indicate the importance of fit between context and skill)
Early trait theories of leadership highlighted key personal qualities and characteristics that defined their leadership skills. Amongst those traits were a strong desire to influence others, ambitious and achievement orientated, persuasive, energetic, self-confident, decisive, diplomatic, assertive, adaptable, dependable and creative. Despite such an exhaustive list of skills & traits, researchers found that “the relative importance of each trait depended on the situation
Recently, leadership skills have begun to focus on the Big Five personality factors (OCEAN) of Openness to experience, Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Agreeableness and Neuroticism and how they correlate with leadership effectiveness. See our blog for more details on this interesting piece on correlations between leadership effectiveness and personality traits.
Others have found a relatively small number of widely supported characteristics of leadership skills, including high energy, good stress tolerance, self confidence, internal locus of control, emotional maturity, integrity, power motivation, achievement orientation, need for affiliation, technical skills, interpersonal skills and conceptual skills.
Given that great leadership is about fitting the right leadership skills to the right environment there are a number of general skills that seem appropriate for a good leader to have… These include self awareness; interpersonal skills (e.g. listening skills, assertiveness skills, empathy skills to be able to read other people, language skills to be able to clearly communicate, appropriately skilled in offering & receiving feedback); wider managerial skills (e.g. delegation skills, team-building skills, meeting skills, coping with diversity in the workplace, planning skills, decision making, project management, conflict management, cultural competence) and problem solving skills.
Learning specific skills will not make you a great leader, but focusing the right leadership skill for the right leadership environment will more than probably work.
Executive coaching is a great way to develop not only the leadership skills but also how to apply different leadership skills to different and specific situations. Executive coaching helps you become aware of the different skills available to you, what skills are most suitable to you and your environment, an opportunity to practise those skills before applying them in the workplace.
Join the dozens of others who have developed their leadership skills by contacting us using the form opposite.