Trying to identify important leadership skills is like trying to pick a paint colour for your walls. There’re many right answers, and while some opinions overlap, everyone always thinks their answer is the exact right choice. Even Googling “what are the core skills for leaders” comes up with 1.1 billion results. Trying to root through various articles from large names and small companies shows a lot of overlap, but a lot of distinction depending on what business we’re dealing with. When we boil it down, we can see consistencies despite the size of the team or area of expertise. Leaders of all shapes and sizes need a certain set of skills to get their job done and facilitate the people they lead in doing jobs of their own. The three main skills every leader requires are the ability to build, create, and develop.
When the move to leadership is made, a lot of changes in responsibility are made simultaneously. While you’re still in charge of creating, building, and developing, it’s in a different sense than before. The people and teams being led by new leaders will do the hands-on performing, building, innovating, creating the products, and developing the services your business offers. Opportunities to build, create, and develop are still present for people leaders, but in a different sense; while the people you lead are building, creating, and developing for the organization, leaders build, create, and develop for the people they lead.
When leaders build, they’re focusing on building strong teams, trust, loyalty, cohesion, and interpersonal relationships. Constructive leaders encourage team building between those they lead, setting up opportunities for bonding, prioritizing communication and active listening, and facilitate difficult conversations with respect. Trust is built with open, honest communication between team members and manager, with transparency and clarity as priorities. Trust is only built with understanding and respect, and once trust is earned, loyalty follows soon after. By building bridges between team members and their managers, leaders build cohesion; with the development of respect, team members are more open about strengths and weaknesses, communicating about areas they may need support in. This builds opportunities for team mates to strengthen one another, ask questions and learn, and become a tight-knit operation. Building cohesion and understanding allows for more efficient completion of goals, as does effective communication surrounding team requirements and expectations. By doing this, leaders are constructing interpersonal relationships, both with their teams and facilitating the bonds between team members. Leaders, while you’re not building a literal product, you’re building the paths to make it as efficiently, effectively, and cohesively as possible.
When managers create, it might not look like a tangible product, or consistently having brand new ideas. These people leaders create opportunities for their teams to have moments of creation. Great leaders inspire creation, facilitate its development, and encourage their teams to innovate. The team is creating and delivering results, in the form of products or services; leadership is creating the environment their team requires to succeed, creating opportunities for communication and understanding, and creating a sense of belonging for each person they’re working alongside. One of the most important parts of creation for a leader is creating ease of communication between members of the team, as well as facilitating communication with members of your organization that will help your team accomplish their goals. If one of your team members needs access to information that a member of customer service has, for example, create that connection! Using the network you’re already connected to can make a world of difference to the development of your team members, improving their talent and skill set while on your team, and opening doors to further development down the line.
When managers develop, they’re focused on two main areas: team members, and themselves. Leaders are responsible for the members of their team doing the best they can and making it so they’re able to improve their skills along the way. Facilitating development for team members is essential to the success of the team as a whole. Each individual comes to the team with a different skill sets, expertise, and strengths. Because of this, each will have different requirements for improvement, whether directly in line with their position, or branching out and learning something new. By encouraging the development of your people, you’re demonstrating that, as their leader, you care about more than just the company’s success; you care about their success! People leaders should focus inward, looking at their own limitations and areas to develop. Doing regular self-checks on strengths and limitations is how good leaders stay on top of new requirements and prove they’re also ready for growth. Being the best leader you’re able to be with consistent efforts toward self-development is how everyone, team and leader included, will meet the greatest levels of success!
In summary, there’s a ton of skills leadership requires to be the best they can be. By using the three main leadership skills of building, creating, and developing, those skills are achievable!
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