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Leadership skills: they’re what separate the great from the good in the workplace. The ability to take the lead confidently and motivate others towards a shared goal is a desirable talent underpinned by a robust set of skills.

What do we mean by leadership skills? Well, leading a team effectively and achieving collective objectives encompasses a variety of skills and traits, from being a valuable team player to having the ideas and drive to inspire others.

Employers of all sizes value leadership expertise in key areas like communication, motivation and resourcefulness. If you possess these skills, you could find yourself in line for various rewards in return – from bonuses to promotions.

Examples of leadership skills

There isn’t a single definition of leadership skills: what makes a strong leader can, to a degree, be subjective. However, there are some skills that most would argue are necessary to lead, including:

Strong communication skills

The ability to maintain an active and productive conversation means listening and speaking effectively.

Empathy (and the ability to demonstrate it)

Acknowledging every team member as an individual, with respect and understanding, is key to building a cohesive workforce.

Decision making

Leaders must make astute decisions, which requires a strong knowledge of the business and its operating environment.

Ability to motivate self and others

Working towards a shared goal means being able to communicate benefits, build momentum and lift morale.

Self-awareness

Being aware of your own strengths and weaknesses – and taking action where necessary – ensures leaders continually improve themselves.

Relationship building

Accepting different perspectives, inspiring others and investing time in forging bonds builds stronger relationships.

This isn’t an exhaustive list of leadership skills by any means, and there’s no single combination of leadership skills that will create the strongest leader. Other aspects of leadership are also important, such as personality traits and leadership styles. You may possess the skills outlined above, or you may excel in other areas of leadership. Every leader is as individual as their personality and experiences, and there’s always room to grow and develop further.

Leadership skills, styles and traits: what’s the difference?

The terms leadership skills, traits and styles are all related and often used interchangeably, but they’re not quite the same. So, what’s the difference between leadership skills, leadership traits and leadership styles?

Leadership skills

Leadership skills relate specifically to tasks and your ability to perform them well, such as decision-making, communication and resourcefulness.

Leadership traits

Leadership traits relate to the characteristics and qualities of your personality, such as honesty, charisma and assertiveness.

Leadership styles

Leadership styles are how you put your skills into practice. There are several recognised leadership styles, including autocratic, authentic and participative approaches. Meanwhile, leadership theories explain leadership styles in more depth. An interesting example is Blanchard’s situational leadership theory, which explores directive, delegating, supporting and coaching leadership styles.

As a strong leader, you’ll undoubtedly need a comprehensive skillset, but you’ll usually possess a mix of leadership traits and an effective leadership style.

Leadership skills, styles and traits: what's the difference? - Delphinium

How do leadership skills help you?

Leadership skills can help you both on a professional level and in a personal capacity. In the workplace, leadership skills can help you achieve your goals, establish respect from peers and seniors, and gain the trust of others.

On a personal level, leadership skills can help with relationship building: leaders often display high levels of emotional intelligence, creativity and problem-solving abilities.

Leadership qualities of strong listening and communication skills are confident, responsible, and have innate motivational abilities that make leaders popular people to be around.

The benefits of leadership skills:

  • Displaying confidence and communicating effectively with others can help open up new work opportunities.
  • Encouraging and supporting team members in realising their potential builds a strong reputation among staff.
  • A creative, innovative approach streamlines working practices for maximum efficiency, which can help reduce stress.
  • The ability to teach and mentor in the workplace is a transferable skill, enhancing employability across a range of industries.

As well as being helpful for an individual, effective leadership skills can bring about a whole host of benefits for an organisation, too, including: 

  • Enhanced workforce productivity
  • Improved morale and camaraderie
  • Competence and professional growth
  • Commitment to innovation
  • Diversity awareness

…and more. Good leadership skills play an invaluable role in an organisation’s success. They can motivate, support and influence a team to build resilient businesses and work towards common goals.

If you feel your business would benefit from Leadership Development Training, contact us at Delphinium to learn more about our Leadership Developments Programme today.

Why are leadership skills important in the workplace? - Delphinium

Why are leadership skills essential in the workplace?

Strong leadership skills are essential in every workplace, across all industries. Regardless of your industry, a good leader uses their comprehensive abilities to propel their organisation towards success in many ways.

By being a responsible leader, you understand that you’re accountable for your team’s successes and failures. You acknowledge and learn from mistakes, use feedback to form solutions, and resolve problems.

As a decisive leader, you’ll analyse facts and figures to make the best decisions for your team and organisation, using sound judgement and strong perceptive skills. Decisions are not always easy to make, but as a strong leader, you’ll have the courage of your convictions to make informed choices for the greater good.

Moreover, as an empathetic leader, you’ll listen to your team, provide constructive feedback, help everyone achieve their own goals and build camaraderie, ensuring you get the best from each individual and fostering team spirit.

Which leadership skills come to the fore depends on the workplace and industry. For example, a project manager in a commercial business may need to focus on motivation and communication to meet deadlines and ensure optimum team performance. In fact, over half of project managers believe that soft skills are more critical today than in the past, with almost 80% of top-performing organisations citing leadership skills as a growing priority.

How to showcase leadership skills on your CV - Delphinium

Why are leadership skills important in the workplace?

Leadership skills can be showcased on your CV, highlighting the strengths and abilities that are likely to impress employers looking for proven leaders, or those with leadership potential.

The ability to lead is desirable – both for individuals and employers. If you possess leadership skills, you can assist in developing high-performing teams and increase organisational profitability – in some cases by more than double – in return, achieving promotion or recognition for yourself.

You can include leadership skills on your CV in the achievements section, relating to the awards or special commendations you have received that illustrate those leadership-specific abilities. They can also feature in the skills section of your CV – especially if an employer is looking for particular qualities your referees will be able to endorse.

In addition to their inclusion on your CV, the covering letter provides an extra opportunity to draw attention to your leadership abilities. Include a couple of accomplishments that demonstrate your sharp leadership skills can help to focus a hiring manager’s mind, setting you apart from other candidates right from the start.

To add leadership skills to your resume, try these following tips:

  • Include words related to leadership throughout the body of your CV
  • Tailor your CV to the leadership skills mentioned in the job specification
  • Use examples of projects or achievements related to leadership skills
  • Include the results of these examples to create a compelling CV

For more tips on writing a standout CV, and the right words to use, take a look at Reed’s comprehensive CV writing guide.

Examples of strong leaders - Delphinium

Examples of strong leaders

History shows us that strong leaders have emerged throughout the ages and have risen to global prominence through their accomplishments. Whether in government or business, the leaders who have become household names (sometimes decades after their deaths), have achieved this status through memorable leadership styles and qualities. Here are just four examples of strong leadership:

Bill Gates

Co-founder of Microsoft, the world’s largest personal computer software company, Bill Gates has inspired countless entrepreneurs worldwide after becoming the youngest self-made billionaire in 1987. He possesses impressive skills in creative thinking and practical innovation abilities. Bill’s strong decision-making helped him make important choices that changed the technology industry forever, transforming him into one of the most respected business people in the world today.

Jacinda Ardern

The prime minister of New Zealand impressed the world with her response to the Covid-19 pandemic, taking proactive measures to protect her citizens and anticipating how the situation would unfold. Jacinda’s strong communication skills and empathy have set an example of leadership that builds trust and respect. She takes a collaborative approach to leading and problem solving, saying that “leadership is not about necessarily being the loudest in the room, but instead being the bridge or the thing that is missing in the discussion and trying to build a consensus from there”.

Martin Luther King

Civil rights spokesman Martin Luther King (MLK) led the fight against racial segregation in the southern states of the USA during the 1950s and 60s, inspiring others – both in the US and abroad – to take action. Lauded as a compelling communicator, MLK put his skills to use in rousing speeches that were as motivational as he was charismatic. A natural teacher and mentor, MLK effectively collaborated with others to create positive change.

Louise O’Shea

Chief executive of the UK’s longest-running insurance marketplace Confused.com, Louise O’Shea, doubled the company’s operating profits in her first two years in the role.

A firm advocate of regular, meaningful communication, Louise builds relationships with employees by adding personal touches to her regular emails, celebrating achievements and sharing inspirational points, all of which help build morale.

We have selected just a few inspirational examples of strong leadership, but you can find more here. However, it’s worth remembering that some of the most inspirational leaders may be closer to home and witnessed by us in day to day life.

What leadership skills do I have? - Delphinium

What leadership still do I have?

There are a number of ways to discover what leadership skills you possess, and which skills you might seek to develop.

Personal reflection

Consider your performance in those leadership skills that are important to your role, such as delegation, empathy and decision-making. On a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being very poor and 10 being outstanding, what score would you give yourself for each skill?

Strengths profiling

To achieve a more scientific result, you could use a psychometric tool that shows your areas of strength and areas for improvement. At Delphinium, we use Strengthscope, a comprehensive strengths assessment that evaluates how well you use your abilities and what makes you a unique leader.

Feedback

Another way to identify which leadership skills you possess and potential areas for improvement is through feedback from other people. Speak to people you trust; what leadership skills do they see you performing well in?

The growing need for strong leadership skills - Delphinium

The growing need for strong leadership skills

You may ask why leadership skills matter? The reason is that now, more than ever before, markets and industries are changing at a rapid pace.

As the economy and wider society change, leadership has emerged as the number one talent issue facing organisations. Deloitte’s UK Human Capital Trends 2019 survey revealed that less than 10% of organisations feel their leadership programmes are effective in preparing leaders to face the challenges of the digital economy. Therefore, as our world continues to develop at high speed, the leadership skills gap is in danger of widening. Organisations need leaders who possess the right skills to respond to these changes and drive them towards success.

Fortunately, with so many resources now at our collective disposal, there are unbridled opportunities to establish and develop key leadership skills. Online tutorials, leadership skills coaching, peer groups on social media – all of these resources are readily available and often easily accessible if you’re thinking of upskilling in leadership.

But, what if you’re not a natural-born leader? Is there even such a thing? The nature vs nurture debate regarding leadership qualities and skills continues. Discover the various views for each side of the debate and which side of the fence we land on here.

At Delphinium we’re here to support you in the development of your leadership skills and abilities. To talk to us about how we can help you, call us now on 0161 949 9736 or book your no-obligation Discovery Call.

Gemma Rolstone | Published 18th August 2020