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What Skills Do I Need to be a Better Leader?

What skills do I need to be a better leader?

What skills do I need to be a better leader?

Despite what you have heard, leadership is not an innate talent. With training you can learn to be better leader.

It is true that SOME leaders are born leaders, but most leaders are MADE.

And they are self-made: Meaning; most leaders developed their skills over time, as a conscious act. If you want to, you can develop your own personal leadership skills: You can improve on your current abilities.

How can you improve on your current leadership abilities?

You can start by recognising that leadership is not one skill: LEADERSHIP is a name given to a set of related skills that, when combined, will cause people to follow your lead.

The set of related skills for leadership can all be subsumed under seven main headings.

  1. Clarity of thought.
  2. Clarity of purpose.
  3. Clarity in your communication.
  4. The ability to plan.
  5. The ability to constructively handle conflict.
  6. The ability to inspire positive emotions in yourself.
  7. The ability to inspire positive emotions in others.

1. Clarity of thought

Since all actions are preceded by a thought, all leadership must be governed by a special type of thinking.

Leadership is primarily a thought process.

Leaders think like leaders.
They all share the ability to hold a clear vision of the future and they all believe that they can cause that future to become a reality.

Visionary thought is the hallmark of all leaders.

You may agree or disagree with the vision, but the fact is, the leader has a clear vision.
Non-leaders don't have a clear vision. They accept things as they are.
Leaders don't accept things as they are. They are determined to change things so that the world begins to correspond to their vision.

2. Clear goal

The vision of the leader is then resolved into clear, specific goals. Just like a nebula can be resolved into individual stars, so a leader can resolve his or her vision into individual goals. The vision is the sum of all the goals. The goals are the substance of the vision. Therefore the leader also has a terrific sense of goal focus.

Leaders formulate goals and they specify exactly what they want to achieve and they put time limits on the goal.

For example, JFK set the goal for the American people to put an American on the moon and bring him back safely before the end of the decade.
That was an example of great leadership.

3. Communication

Almost all great leaders are also great communicators. That is not a coincidence. It is a cause- effect correlation.

Leadership demands the ability to clearly communicate. Leaders need followers. And therefore, leaders need to communicate with their followers. That means that most leaders are very aware of their use of language, their body language and their voice tones.

In addition, great leaders are also great listeners.
You may need to improve your skill with language; your body language, your voice tones and listening skills.
Each one of these skills will improve your overall ability to lead others.

4. The ability to organise and plan ahead

If you have a goal in mind, then you will need a plan that is capable of delivering the goal. A goal without a plan is pointless. A goal tied to a detailed and realistic plan is a powerful force.

All great leaders are also tacticians. They build practical, tactical plans of action. Non leaders don't plan. They make it up as they go along.
If you want to be a good leader, then never leave the house without two objectives: A definite goal and a detailed written plan of action.

5. The ability to handle conflict.

All teams suffer with internal conflicts. Not everyone in the team will agree with everyone else. Squabbles and upsets are bound to happen amongst team members. The leader needs to be able to handle these conflicts quickly so that they do not grow into major battles that can destroy the team effectiveness.

The leader has to be able to nip problems in the bud.
The leader can do this by applying logic to every problem.

A logical approach to problem solving and conflict management is the best way forward.
A logical approach means:
The leader needs to understand the facts that underpin the conflict; and not get caught up in the emotions of the conflict.
The leader needs to make a logical evaluation of the facts; not an evaluation based on prejudice or personal likes and dislikes.
The leader needs to decide the case quickly and make a decision. Not to drag it out over weeks and months.

Conflict is inevitable: you can deal with conflict most effectively if you use logic as your guide, not your emotions.

6. The ability to inspire yourself.

The sixth quality of leadership is the ability to inspire yourself; to create emotions of optimism, confidence, motivation and enthusiasm. You need to be able to generate these emotions at will.

You need to be self sufficient in terms of your own emotions.
Non leaders are not self sufficient. Non leaders are emotionally dependent.
They need other people to give them confidence, to give them motivation, and to inspire them into action.

But who motivates the motivator?
NOBODY motivates the motivator. The motivator motivates himself/herself.

The ability to control your own mind and generate the positive emotions, and to simultaneously kill the negative emotions of fear, doubt, worry and anxiety are key emotional skills for the leader to master. The leader must first lead himself. Herself.

7. The ability to inspire others.

Let us assume you have all the above six elements of the leader, you have clear thought. Clear purpose, clear communication, a detailed and practical plan, a non conflicted team, and a positive mental attitude, you then have all you need to inspire others towards a positive mental attitude.

The team must create and sustain a positive mental attitude. And the leader's task is to facilitate that process. The leader must always be aware of the atmosphere in the team. If the atmosphere is one of doubt, or conflict or fear or excessive anger, then the leader needs to notice and take the necessary action to induce the team to turn back to the right state of mind.

This is the master key to leadership.

The leader's role is to create and sustain a positive atmosphere in the team by:

  • Providing a vision.
  • Providing a plan.
  • Communicating the vision and the plan.
  • Managing conflict.
  • Acting as a positive role model and
  • Demonstrating a positive mental attitude.

Then the leader will inspire the team to achieve the goal.

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As the team leader or manager, you know that, on the technical level, you are very good. In your role as an effective and inspirational leader-manager, you recognise that there may be some gaps. Now you are searching for a method to help you to improve your skills as a team-leader and manager - click here to find out more!

About the Author: Chris Farmer


Chris Farmer is the founder of the Corporate Coach Group and has many years’ experience in training leaders and managers, in both the public and private sectors, to achieve their organisational goals, especially during tough economic times. He is also well aware of the disciplines and problems associated with running a business.

Over the years, Chris has designed and delivered thousands of training programmes and has coached and motivated many management teams, groups and individuals. His training programmes are both structured and clear, designed to help delegates organise their thinking and, wherever necessary, to improve their techniques and skills.

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