Developing Essential Leadership Skills

All people in leadership positions will need to consider developing essential leadership skills. Leadership can often become used to describe someone who is managing. Someone who is a skilled manager may be efficient at organisation but this is not the same as leadership.

Developing Essential Leadership Skills

Leadership is about delivering transformational change not just managing a team well.

A boss will drive his workers in the direction he requires them to go using their authority as leverage. A leader will coach and inspire people to follow their vision willingly.

What is leadership

The best style of leadership is when the people working under you feel as though they achieved the goal themselves. This requires developing a motivation within your team, a skill set amongst the individuals to complete the work and a sense of pride in working towards their goal.

The skills required for good leadership include:

  • Setting and communicating objectives
  • Taking the initiative
  • Taking responsibility for the actions and direction of a team
  • The ability to motivate and direct others
  • Organisation of tasks and people
  • Perseverance when things are not working out
  • Flexibility: Being prepared to adapt your goals during changing situations
  • Accepting responsibility for wrong decisions or mistakes
  • Remaining positive when faced with failure or frustration

Becoming an inspirational leader

An inspirational leader will be able to develop a team who is loyal and hard working in achieving the required goals. Loyalty to a leader requires that the team are engaged, have a purpose in their work and are able to become successful as individuals and as part of the organisation.

The term Transformational Leadership was developed by James McGregor Burns in his 1978 book, “Leadership.” The type of leader described by Burns will be fair, set clear goals and provide encouragement.

Burns describes that a transformational leader has the following qualities:

  • Sets a clear goal for everyone
  • Has high expectations from their team
  • Is seen to maintain fairness and integrity in their judgments
  • Provides recognition and support
  • Is able to encourage people to look beyond their self-interest
  • Can tap into the emotions of people
  • Encourages others to succeed
  • Inspires others to reach for the improbable

Skills of an Inspirational Leader

Has a compelling vision

By clearly communicating an inspirational vision of the future, a good leader will be able to help their team understand clearly what they are aiming towards. You will be able to provide a common purpose for the organisation so that everybody knows why they should be inspired to continue doing what they do.

A compelling vision needs to be realistic as well as aspirational. You need to evaluate the current strengths of an organisation and understand what resources and capabilities are available.

You can use the following methods for developing an assessment of your organisation and its current strengths:

Developing a successful strategy for the future requires market research and innovation. You will be able to monitor the current marketplace and imagine future potential of the marketplace.

Having a compelling vision will require problem solving, realistic analysis, the ability to look forward. This will help you discover reasons not to remain satisfied with the current position of the organisation.

Once you have developed a vision of the future to aspire towards, you need to convince the rest of the team. This vision must be able to be easily understood, evocative, grounded in reality and easily embraced. This means communicating your ideas in a way that others can relate to.

Can Motivate a team

Having vision is only useful as a leader if you can translate that vision into an idea that can motivate people. Enthusiasm is easier to develop at the beginning of a new project. But once time has passed and people are still working on producing goals towards the idea, people may need to be motivated and inspired to keep up momentum.

A good leader will recognise when an individual’s needs are not being met and when goals and aspirations need to be addressed. Alongside this a good leader will offer incentives so that members of the team come to expect that:

  • Hard work leads to good results; good results lead to reward and incentive.

This will help to apply the motivation of people working to help you achieve your vision.

The motivation of a team can also become inspired by understanding the way in which they can help meet the needs of their customers by following your lead. This benefit should be communicated clearly throughout the process in an attractive and engaging way.

People are also motivated by leaders who are seen to be expert in what they do. This provides more credibility to your ideas and reinforces your communication of that vision. You will find it easier to motivate people if you are seen as someone with expert power.

The power of leaders can come from the ability to offer rewards, benefits and assign roles. But the more successful leaders are able to offer motivation through natural appeal and charisma.

Can Manage a team to deliver

Management is another key skill of a good leader. The ability to manage a team effectively will ensure that your vision is realised. Whether you manage directly or you delegate the role of management, your role is to ensure that your vision is translated throughout the direction.

Management can use Key Performance Indicators (KPI) to gain an understanding of how well an organisation has met is desired goals. A KPI is a measurement of how well your team is performing at advancing the main objective of the organisation.

A good leader will also be able to make use of project management skills. Effective project management is the way in which you organise your team to meet their goals. Skills required includes:

  • organisation
  • scheduling
  • delegating tasks
  • keeping stress levels low throughout the team

A good project manager will be able to deliver the project results on time and to budget. Managing a project will require monitoring and correction of:

  • deadlines
  • fixed budgets
  • people required
  • activities being undertaken

A successful leader will also be able to manage change effectively. By incorporating change so that it does not affect the achievement of goals, you can remain focused on your vision.

Provides Team Development

A transformational leader is able to produce transformational development of individuals within the team. The team must be able to develop as individuals and as a whole.

An understanding of team dynamics and a development of the skills of members within the team will ensure that they have the required abilities to complete their job. This is achieved by offering training, coaching and regular feedback.

Long term success within the team can also be developed by a leader who is able to recognise leadership potential in others. As a transformational leader, helping develop leadership skills in others will create an environment of improved success.

How to become a better leader

  • Use Initiative:
    Take the lead even when you are not yet an officially recognised leader. You will be rewarded for your initiative.
  • Take responsibility:
    Own your projects and take responsibility whether they are a success or failure.
  • Positive attitude:
    Always present an attitude of can do. Don’t pass problems onto other people and try to resolve them yourself.
  • Go the extra mile:
    Work beyond your job description to complete results that will get you noticed.
  • Be enthusiastic:
    Your enthusiasm for your work will get recognised and you will get rewarded for it.
  • Engage in Problem solving:
    Be aware of the potential problems that are likely to occur and try to take pre-emptive action so that these are easy to resolve if they arise.
  • Introduce improvements:
    If you can think of a better way of approaching a task, suggest an improvement to the system.
  • Value innovative thinking:
    Keep innovative in your approach to your work. Always welcome new ideas that could improve a process.
  • Learn new skills:
    Keep ahead of the competition by retaining the desire to learn new skills for potential changes in your role.
  • Remember Common sense:
    Always remember to apply common sense. Many people in management are swept up in current trends or rigid dogma. Remain grounded and flexible to what works best for your organisation.

Are you looking to develop your leadership skills? These excellent books offer easy to follow methods to help you succeed.

The different styles of leadership

  • Authoritarian:
    The authoritarian leadership style is a top down approach where little or no consent is given to the opinions of the team.
    This is generally a process for short term results and closer to management than leadership.
  • Procedural:
    Procedural leadership concentrates on bureaucratic and task oriented management. Team members are expected to follow procedures in detail to complete a task.
    This is a task focused leadership and not people focused.
  • Transformational:
    Transformational leadership offers a vision of the future. The task of the leader is to sell the idea by communication and inspiration.
    Roles are delegated out and the leader’s role is to focus the team’s direction by persuasion.
  • Participative:
    Decisions are made by the leader but members of the group contribute towards the decision making process. Teamwork is essential and quality of outcomes is more important than productivity.
    This type of leadership recognises the skills of the team in knowing their area of expertise. This inspires the team to become stronger and increase respect for the leader.
  • Laissez-faire:
    The laissez-faire leader will become an equal member of the decision making process alongside the rest of the team. The group makes decisions as a whole and the leader takes a monitoring and counselling role.
    This form of leadership encourages the pursuit of ideas and values. It does not produce competitive results but demonstrates a confidence in the people’s opinions. This allows the values of the team to become part of the process.

Follow this link for further information about styles of leadership.


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