great leadership skills

How to be a Great Leader [Top Five Leadership Skills]

How to be a Great Leader [Top Five Leadership Skills] 1000 703 Unlimited Unnati Pvt. Ltd.

In this article, I’m going to teach you how to be an EXTRAORDINARY LEADER including the top five leadership skills.

So, if you are ever a leader of a team within an organization, or if you are leading an organization, please make sure you read this from beginning to end.

By the end of it, I am going to give you 5 SIMPLE STRATEGIES that you can use in any situation to be a fantastic leader.

Things I will cover: 

  1. Some important things you need to do to become a great leader
  2. Easy-to-follow, ACTIONABLE TIPS you can use straight away with any leadership role
  3. PROVEN STRATEGIES for exceptional leadership within any organization

How to be a Fantastic Leader

First and foremost, we need to answer the question- “what is a great leader?”

Simply put, a great leader is somebody who can encourage others to willingly follow their chosen course of action, which leads to the successful accomplishment of a worthwhile goal.

There are several leadership skills that you should have in order to accomplish this:

Top Five Leadership Skills to be a Fantastic Leader

1. Leadership skill number one: BUILDING TRUST

Leadership skills-building trustThink about this for a second. If ever you buy anything of significant value from anybody, a salesperson or business partner, you will only part with your money if you have complete trust in the person or the company.

It is the same with leaders. People will only follow you if they have complete faith in your abilities and intentions. The ability to build trust is one of the most important keys to successful leadership.

If people within your team trust you and your decision-making capabilities, they will follow you and they will willingly do what you need them to do.

Which leads us to the obvious questions.

How do we build trust as a leader with this leadership skill? 

Well, there’s a lot that can be said about that, but they all boil down to the following traits.

  1. Strive to be authentic & transparent. Act with integrity at all times and be TRANSPARENT in what you and the team are doing.
  2. Always set high standards yourself. You, as a leader, are a role model for people to look up to. So, always set high standards before you expect high standards from others.
  3. Always communicate the vision. It’s important to share- and share repeatedly- where you want to go. If people know where they’re going, they can focus entirely on what they need to do.

2. Leadership skill number two: Be a DECISIVE INDIVIDUAL

leadership skill 2 - effective decisionDon’t be afraid of getting some decisions wrong. The best decision is the right decision, the second-best decision is the wrong decision. The worst decision is no decision.

As a leader, you will have to make many decisions regularly. Some people shy away from making tough decisions.

Have you ever been in a team where the leader doesn’t want to make a tough decision? That can be really disappointing, isn’t it?

But as a leader, we have to have complete confidence in our decision-making capabilities.

 Which again begs the question- how can leaders make effective decisions? 

Again, there are two key points here:

  1. Always make decisions that are based on the information and facts that you have available. Don’t get distracted by emotions and let data let you drive your decisions. You will make better decisions if you rely on facts instead of just emotions and hunches because reality does not change based on how you feel or what you wish.Stay calm when you have to make a big decision, and think about what information or data you have available (or could get) that would help you make the right decision.
  1. Then consider all the options that you have available. More often than not, you will have a number of different options that can solve the problem that is available to you.

Consider each of the options and think of the likely outcome as well as the associated risk with that decision. With that consideration, you will end up making the right decisions more often than not.

Again, I want to reiterate that the worst decision is indecision. It’s important to be courageous in the face of uncertainty. That’s a sign of true leadership because you won’t always have all the necessary details and facts at your disposal when you’ve to make a decision.

A final tip is to let important decisions sink-in before you act on them. If you decide something, whenever possible, sleep over it so that your mind has enough time to process your decision and you may find a new perspective with that time. However, don’t let this process paralyze you into indecision.

3. Leadership skill number three: Identify and nurture talent within your teams and nurture it

identify and nurture talentThe only way to achieve our goals is by aligning our interests with others and learning the art of cooperation. A lot of managers and leaders are afraid of identifying talent within their teams because they’re insecure. They think that if they identify and build someone else’s talent, it could threaten their own position as the leader, as well as threaten to take away their authority and respect in the eyes of others.

The truth is you can NEVER hold talent down for long. If you fail to identify someone in your team who has potential, they will eventually leave and go to work somewhere else, to the benefit of another organization and another leader!

Don’t be afraid of identifying and valuing talent within your team. It has two advantages- one, you will encourage them to perform even better and that, in turn, will help you deliver better results too. Secondly, by encouraging talent within your team you will have better retention of high-quality talent and your organization may attract better talent too because of such a culture.

How do you identify and nurture talent? 

Step one: Listen deeply to your team members

Ask people, “what drives you? What are you good at doing? What motivates you?” Leadership isn’t as much about speaking as it is about listening and understanding. So, try to identify talent and that special spark in your team by asking them such open-ended questions frequently. It will give them the right platform to express themselves and show you what they’re capable of doing.

Step two: Provide regular training and coaching

People who genuinely want to develop themselves feel valued if you give them plenty of opportunities to do so. Sometimes, training and development feel like a cost and not an investment, but in the long term, it is one of the best investments you as a leader can make in your team.

Step three: Get them to shadow you as a leader; to watch what you do and take notes

We learn by imitation right from infancy. The fastest way to learn leadership qualities is by surrounding yourself with an effective leader. And if you’re the leader to your team, it is important that they get to see you in action so that over time they can start recognizing the patterns of your behavior and emulate them in their own way.

4. Leadership skill number four: TAKE RESPONSIBILITY, BLAME NOBODY.

leader ship skill-take responsibilityDon’t ever blame anyone or anything as a leader. Take 100% responsibility for whatever results you achieve.

You may argue that luck plays a big factor in almost everything in life. That’s true, but that’s a factor we cannot control. There are, however, so many factors we can control, and if you do the right things in the right way, success will almost always come to you sooner or later.

The important thing is to find the problem where it exists when things go wrong. Blaming is a way to find the problem “out there”, whereas most problems are “in here”.

Always taking responsibility is also a guaranteed way to always move forward and succeed.

Now, how do we take responsibility?

  1. When things go wrong, find out how to prevent it from happening again. Instead of panicking or regretting what’s already past, successful leaders can learn from their mistakes and improve with each experience.
  1. Always put your hand up if you or your team make a mistake.Such vulnerability in front of your team actually makes them feel safer in your presence and relate to you as a fellow human. It helps build empathy, trust, and openness in the team. It also makes them respect you more because you’re not afraid to admit when you’re wrong.
  1. Learn from every situation, not just situations where things go wrong.Even when things go well, there’s always some learning. What did we do right? Could we have done something even better? Irrespective of success or failure, always keep learning from your experiences so you keep improving as a leader.

5. Leadership skill number five – LISTEN AND OBSERVE!

listen and observe - leadership skillAs we’d mentioned earlier, great leaders listen more than they speak. Listening is when you’re actually learning. Active listening helps others feel safe and valued in your presence, it helps you gather more information effectively, and it helps you build stronger relations.

It also surprisingly makes people perceive you as more of an authority than if you were just talking and giving orders.

So how can you listen more effectively with this leadership skill?

Step one: Listen to understand, not to respond. This takes practice, but the goal of listening is to understand the speaker (both what they’re saying verbally and non-verbally through body language, tone, and expressions). Instead of formulating your answer or next statement, listen with the intent to just listen.

Step two: Practice mirroring. Mirroring is the art of adapting to the speaker’s body language, tone, etc while you listen. You could sit in a similar posture, or repeat the last few words of their sentence, etc. This way you can actually make them feel better understood and you also get into a state of empathy yourself.

Step three: Label what you hear. It’s important to summarize what they’re saying so that they know you’ve understood (and can clarify if there’s some discrepancy). You may also label their feelings, such as by saying “It seems to me that you’re not comfortable with my decision regarding the new purchases…” Such statements help the other person open up about their discomfort or complaints and you get an opportunity to clarify issues and restate values and visions.

So, we hope you found this article fruitful in your own journey to becoming better leaders. Leadership development is a lifelong journey and every interaction you have is part of the curriculum. We at Unnati believe in developing strong leaders that positively impact society. Mr. Shyam Taneja, our founder, has been identified as one of the top 5 business coaches in India.

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