25 Leadership Skills You Need To Learn Fast


Anyone can be placed in a leadership role, but to be good and thrive in that position requires solid leadership skills. Good leadership skills top of the list of leadership competencies that recruiters need to focus on when hiring people or when managers promote leaders from within the organization. The highest ranking companies hunt for people with well-honed leadership skills to fill their most sought after executive positions.

But the question still remains: what are the essential leadership skills people must acquire? How can these people management skills help land an executive position? After ticking off all items outlined in this article, you’ll have enough confidence to finally hand in your resume and apply for that job you’ve been working so hard for and become a good leader.

Relationship Building

1. Relationship Building (The Foundation Of A High-Performing Team)

Some leaders will say they that they do not need to be loved in the workplace. This may be true, but to build a cohesive and more engaged team, great leaders need to learn the skills for building good working relationships in the workplace.

Good working relationships increase employee engagement and according to Gallup’s meta-analysis of employee engagement, business units with good employee engagement have 41% fewer quality defects and 37% less absenteeism. A 21% increase in productivity was also seen to result from higher employee engagement. So even if you think you don’t need to be loved in the workplace, you will definitely need to be skilled in building good relationships in order to be effective. If your team is highly engaged and happy in the workplace, you will likely be loved or at least well respected as a good leader.

Practical Tips:

Tip 1. Share More Of Yourself During Meetings.

Utilize meetings as a forum to let your team get to know you better. Allow them to learn from your stories, your experiences and the lessons you have learnt in your career.

Tip 2. Write Thank You Notes.

Let your employees know that you appreciate the work that they do, especially if they go above and beyond what’s expected of them. Send them ‘thank you’ notes, and make sure that their colleagues, peers, subordinates and even your leaders know the exemplary performance you are acknowledging them for.

Tip 3. Organize Team Building Activities.

You do not need an elaborately planned team building activity, a simple after office sport activity or a family day with your staff can be an effective way to connect with them. They will also get to appreciate that you are trying to support their work-life balance.

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Critical Thinking

8. Critical Thinking (Essential To Produce Desirable Outcome)

Leading a business towards success is unquestionably very challenging. To be successful, a leader must make a lot of difficult decisions. Brandon Hall Group shared a table which shows that critical thinking is the top most important skill required of leaders to successfully lead an organization.

Critical thinkers are intelligent decision makers, highly analytical and always rational. These attributes are essential to lead the organization towards achieving its goal. A leader must be able to firmly stand by his decisions. Because he is a critical thinker, it should be safe to assume that every decision he makes is well researched, objectively scrutinized and that all possible outcomes were assessed, and therefore, his final choice is the best course of action.

9. Focus & Results Orientation (The Road To Success)

In a high-pressure leadership role, many events may occur simultaneously, so it is important to develop the skill of focusing on what matters most and know what impact it has on your organization. In Stephen Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, he included “first things first” as the 3rd habit and explained that leadership starts with a personal vision and personal leadership.

You can use Covey’s time management quadrant (see figure #11 Time-Management skill) to help you prioritize tasks so you can focus on the important things first. The second habit he outlined is to “begin with the end in mind” therefore, a highly effective leader should be results-oriented. This habit is important because a leader needs to be able to envision the result he wants before starting work on it. When you are able to focus and orient yourself to the goal you want to achieve, the path you will lead your people on to get there will be much clearer.


15. Commitment (Be The Leader Everyone Wants To Work For)

Without commitment, the Wright brothers would not have been successful in inventing the airplane. In an organization, both leaders and employees must have some level of commitment to their jobs for goals to be achieved. Simon Sinek said that leaders determine the workplace atmosphere and that the importance of having committed leaders cannot be underestimated, so that employees have someone to trust.

The engagement level of an organization is higher when employees trust their leaders. A committed leader exhibits stewardship. Bekele Geleta (Former Secretary General of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent) said that effective leadership always involved stewardship and that it is a requirement for great leadership. However, stewardship does not happen without commitment.

16. Self-Awareness (Reach The Highest Pinnacle)

Effective leadership means being aware of your full potential as well as the areas you need to further develop. One of the leadership pit-falls is complacency or arrogance. A leader must accept that there are things he has yet to learn. It then becomes his responsibility to learn these things and develop his leadership skills further to benefit himself and his organization.

Anthony Tjan sums up self-awareness in a trinity: know thyself, improve thyself and complement thyself. This leadership skill however, is not only self-focused. The ‘complement thyself’ in the trinity involves other people. As a leader, this can be your team that is composed of different individuals with strengths that complement each other. You must be aware of what value each person in your team can bring to achieve the goals you envision. Enrolling in a team leadership program that leads you to realize your team’s and your own potential is a great way to fulfil your potential as a leader.

17. Delegation (Become A Mentor)

Delegation is an essential part of effective leadership. Delegation does not mean offloading work so you can have less stress as a leader. Effective delegation means you are building the leadership skills of those individuals who have the potential to become future leaders.

Delegating tasks means that you trust your team members to do more than what is expected of them. More importantly, delegation is one of the most important leadership competencies because it allows you to focus on more pressing issues. Through delegation, you are essentially mentoring your team members. It is a form of informal management skills training as they undertake tasks above their paygrade.

What They Mean For Your Business

Leadership Skills & What It Means For Your Business

All of the above mentioned leadership and management skills make an effective leader who can help lead an organization to future success. But it is necessary for the organization to provide training programs to support their leaders in gaining those much-needed leadership competencies.

In Brandon Hall Group’s 2015 State of Leadership Development Study, 71% of organizations acknowledge that their leaders were “not ready to lead their organizations into the future”. The lack of confidence by organizations in their talent pool leads them to meet immediate employment needs by hiring externally.

Developing internal training programs can take time and be costly, but there are existing training programs that exist that are proven to be effective by distinguished companies. Explore IMD’s leadership training programs to learn the effective leadership skills your organization needs.

For seasoned managers who need more in-depth leadership training, discover how IMD’s High Performance Leadership program can help you be the effective leader your organization needs to bring them further into the future.

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