Bring the Leader in You

The word “leadership” can bring to mind a variety of images. For example:

  • A political leader, pursuing a passionate, personal cause.
  • An explorer, cutting a path through the jungle for the rest of his group to follow.
  • An executive, developing her company’s strategy to beat the competition.

Leaders help themselves and others to do the right things. They set direction, build an inspiring vision, and create something new. Leadership is about mapping out where you need to go to “win” as a team or an organization; and it is dynamic, exciting, and inspiring.

Yet, while leaders set the direction, they must also use management skills to guide their people to the right destination, in a smooth and efficient way.

So which strengths are leadership strengths?

It depends on who you ask, but generally, there is agreement on a number of important traits and skills. See the overlap in the three lists of leadership strengths below to get the gist of which strengths most benefit a leader.

Skills Essential for Leaders:

  • Self-awareness: knowing yourself, your strengths, your weaknesses, your emotional state, etc.
  • Situational awareness: knowing what is happening around you.
  • Communication skills: the ability to effectively communicate with others.
  • Negotiation skills: the ability to negotiate and compromise to get the best outcome.
  • Conflict resolution skills: the ability to resolve conflict in a way that is fair and agreeable to all (or most).
  • Collaboration skills: the ability to work with others, particularly those who are different from you.
  • Ability to work with different personal styles and approaches: as described.
  • Courage: the ability to make difficult decisions—even when faced with fear, stress, and uncertainty.

Here is a list of 10 top leadership traits:

  1. Results-oriented: focusing on getting results (i.e., good outcomes) rather than the process or getting bogged down in the details.
  2. Customer-focused: knowing your customers (whether they’re internal or external) and focusing on giving them what they need.
  3. Vision: having an idea of where you (and your team, division, or organization) want to go.
  4. Strategically focused: the ability to be strategic in your thinking and planning; seeing the big picture.
  5. Delegating: the ability to get work done through others and the wisdom to know who to delegate which tasks to.
  6. Conflict resolution skills: the ability to resolve conflict in a way that is fair and agreeable to all (or most).
  7. The ability or tendency to ask effective questions: as described.
  8. Ability to make high-quality decisions based on solid reasoning.
  9. Trustworthiness: a trait that promotes trust from your followers and peers.
  10. Communication skills: the ability to effectively communicate with others.

Skills are essential for good leadership

Fearless agility: the ability to adapt and think on your feet in a fast-paced environment.
Ability to earn the respect of others: as described.
Empathy: the ability to understand and appreciate your own emotions and thoughts and the emotions and thoughts of others.
Selflessness: trait characterized by the tendency to be generous with others and quick to give credit where it’s due.
Flexibility: the ability to adapt to changing circumstances and work contexts.
Clear vision: the ability to clarify and commit to a vision for the future.
Listening skills: the skills necessary to listen effectively—not just “in one ear, out the other” type of listening.
Humility: the tendency to be modest about your own value and encourage others to shine.
Communication and “soft” skills: skills like communication, public speaking, and other interpersonal skills.
Steadiness—while remaining adaptable: the ability to adapt, but also keep a steady core vision and mission.
Quick learning: the ability to learn quickly, over and above simple recall.
Cultural intelligence: the ability to effectively work with people from other countries and cultures.
Individualization: the ability to see and treat others as individuals with unique strengths, weaknesses, needs, etc.
Authenticity: the trait of being honest, sincere, and wholeheartedly “you.”
Change leadership: the ability to lead others through times of turbulence and uncertainty, harnessing the creativity and energy of change.
Versatility: the ability to effectively engage in a wide range of functions and adapt to changing demands.