Top 10 leadership skills of great leaders

Drake Editorial Team

The goal of great leaders is to continuously be better tomorrow than they were today. Here are the top 10 leadership skills of great leaders. You may click on each leadership skill to review the complete article for those skills that may be harder for you than others.

Leadership Skill #1: Be Trustworthy

Trustworthy leaders create leaders that are better than they are. Staying true to your convictions means holding tough discussions, clarifying expectations, and letting those that choose not to contribute know they are no longer a match for the organization’s purpose and mission. A leader can become more self-aware, be adaptable, believe in others, and communicate clearly, but without holding others accountable, the leader quickly loses trust.

Leadership Skill #2:  Ignite Passion

Passionate leaders spread passion to others through their love of life, doing new things, taking risks, being motivated, having a sense of urgency, and reinventing self. It is a long list, but I’ve narrowed these descriptions of passion down to four, main leadership behaviours. Passionate people are optimistic, have a great story, involve people, and have a simple, recharge strategy.

Leadership Skill #3:  Walk Naked

Followers need the opposite approach of our typical desire to jump in and fix problems. They need managers to involve them in the problem in order to connect and build trust. Great leaders are experts at being vulnerable (walking naked) to reveal their real, authentic character. A leader who doesn’t walk naked isn’t a leader, but a poser because we don’t know who they really are or if we can trust them.

Leadership Skill #4:  Make Change Look Easy

Leaders who are successful at leading change, the movers and shakers, have both the intelligence quotient (IQ) and the emotional quotient (EQ) to successfully initiate and complete a needed change. The blend of IQ and EQ occurs when leaders explore their emotions, internal needs, and what will give them the courage to lead in areas that are unknown. The skill to handle your personal reactions allows you to make change happen at a faster rate than ordinary leaders.

Leadership Skill #5: Take a Vacation

It is a known fact that the difference between an average performing leader and an extraordinary leader is that great leaders build strong teams. When great leaders take a vacation their team members keep things humming without missing a beat. Great leaders know how to build top performing teams that achieve profitable results while they comfortably take a vacation when needed – no sweat.

Leadership Skill #6:  Motivate People

Great leaders believe that people determine a company’s success or failure. It is not the size of the building, how cool the product is, or even the best equipment or process that determines success. What propels and sustains a successful organization is its diverse team of talented, motivated employees. Great leaders continually invest in their people and understand motivational rewards for employees.

Leadership Skill #7:  Have Ethics

An ethical leader is one that considers positive and negative views, the rights of everyone involved, ensures decisions are made in an ethical manner, and members are held accountable. The ethical actions of a leader enhance his or her credibility and integrity which causes followers to trust. Employees, students, and children establish faith in their leader’s decision making and the choices the leader makes by listening and watching what they do.

Leadership Skill #8:  Balance Ego

Overusing your ego will only lead to counterproductive results. Great leaders constantly work on balancing or adjusting their ego to the appropriate level. You do not need to be the know-it-all. Listen to what others have to say. Put aside your own ego by avoiding telling others what to do. Let others be heard and give them opportunities to provide input.

Leadership Skill #9:  Be a Great Teacher

There’s a big difference between managing others to success—and teaching others to find success themselves. Great leaders find satisfaction not only in teaching others but also in mentoring them—in showing others how they can become more than they ever believed they could. These types of leaders have a strong drive to invest in people not for the return it will give them but for the rewards it will bring to people personally.

Leadership Skill #10:  Channel Dysfunctional Habits

Although dysfunctional behaviors are not the intent of great leaders, the overuse of habits and reactions they have used to succeed end up not being appropriate when working with others. When dysfunctional behaviors are overused it creates a roadblock to openness and trust which affects the results the leader needs to achieve. Here’s the key – as long as leaders are willing to work on how they are perceived as well as develop “human relationships”, they can smooth out their rough edges.

Actions for Smoothing Rough Edges:

  • Use power to serve others
  • Align vision with followers’ needs and aspirations
  • Encourage, consider, and learn from criticism
  • Stimulate followers to think
  • Communicate honestly and directly in a professional manner
  • Commit to do whatever must be done to achieve the best results, no matter how difficult
  • Coach, develop, and support team members
  • Rely on internal, moral standards and convictions
  • Look in the mirror and accept responsibility

Reprinted with the permission of Dr. Mary Kay Whitaker, Co-founder & Executive Director of “About Leaders” that works with leading companies to take their management team from good to great. Dr. Whitaker is also the co-author of It All Starts With You – The Power of Pre-Emptive Leadership and author of Connection Rules – Success at Home, Work, and Life. For more information, visit www.aboutleaders.com


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