In our series of blogs about frontline managers, we identified the experience gap between frontline managers and senior executives, and shared how some great workplaces help them acquire the critical knowledge and skills, so they can thrive at the workplace.
We highlighted in these articles how these managers play a critical role in the workplace and yet, they are often the most overlooked. In this blog, we share 6 essential leadership skills for a strong leader, as well as suggestions on how to cultivate these leadership skills, even on your own.
Effective leaders have the ability to communicate well, motivate their team, handle and delegate responsibilities, listen to feedback, and have the flexibility to solve problems in an ever-changing workplace.
Whether you’re starting out in an entry-level position and looking to move up the career ladder or you’re seeking a promotion, your leadership skills will be among your most valuable assets.
Here are the 6 leadership skills that make a strong leader in the workplace.
As a leader, you need to be able to clearly and succinctly explain to your employees everything from organizational goals to specific tasks.
Leaders must master all forms of communication, including one-on-one, departmental, and full-staff conversations, as well as communication via the phone, email, video, chat, and social media.
Leaders need to inspire their workers to go the extra mile for their organizations; just paying a fair salary to employees is typically not enough inspiration (although it is important too). There are a number of ways to motivate your workers: you may build employee self-esteem through recognition and rewards, or by giving employees new responsibilities to increase their investment in the company.
Leaders who try to take on too many tasks by themselves will struggle to get anything done. These leaders often fear that delegating tasks is a sign of weakness, when it actually can be a sign of a strong leader.
Therefore, you need to identify the skills of each of your employees, and assign duties to each employee based on his or her skill set. By delegating tasks to staff members, you can focus on other important tasks.
Employees need to be able to feel comfortable coming to their manager or leader with questions and concerns. It is important for you to demonstrate your integrity— employees will only trust leaders they respect. By being open and honest, you will encourage the same sort of honesty in your employees.
Leaders should constantly look for opportunities to deliver useful information to team members about their performance. However, there is a fine line between offering employees advice and assistance, and micromanaging. By teaching employees how to improve their work and make their own decisions, you will feel more confident delegating tasks to your staff. Employees will also respect a leader who provides feedback in a clear but empathetic way.
A leader is responsible for both the successes and failures of his or her team. Therefore, you need to be willing to accept blame when something does not go correctly.
If your employees see their leader pointing fingers and blaming others, they will lose respect for you. Accept mistakes and failures, and then devise clear solutions for improvement.
How You Can Build Leadership Skills
You do not need to supervise or be a manager to cultivate leadership skills. You can develop these skills on the job in the following ways:
Look beyond the tasks in your job description. Think long-term about what would be beneficial for your department and the company.
Try to brainstorm ideas and commit to doing work that goes beyond the daily routine.
Request More Responsibility
While you wouldn’t want to ask for additional responsibility in your second week on the job, once you’ve been in a position long enough to become an expert, you can share with your manager that you’re eager to grow your leadership abilities.
Ask how you can help out—are there upcoming projects that require a point person? Is there any work that you can take off of your manager’s to-do list?
Target Specific Skills
If you have a specific skill that you want to develop—whether it’s creative thinking or communication—create a plan to improve your abilities in this area. This could mean taking a class, finding a mentor to help, reading books, or setting a small goal that forces you to develop this skill. Talk to managers and co-workers, as well as friends outside of the office, to help develop your plan to improve.
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Lauren is our Marketing Specialist. When she’s not penning insightful articles and whipping up bold graphics for the web and social media, she loves nothing more than getting stuck into the latest interior design shows and petting every dog she meets in Toronto.