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Leadership skills are essential for anyone looking to get ahead in the workplace. Such qualities allow individuals to inspire their colleagues, set and reach goals and rise to the top of their industry. Those with strong leadership capabilities have a greater chance of success, which can benefit businesses as a whole. This article will explore why these traits are so important and provide tips on how interested parties can improve their own leadership skills.

What are leadership skills?

Leadership skills are 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 value leadership expertise in critical areas, such as communication, motivation, and resourcefulness. If you possess these skills, you could find yourself in line for various rewards, 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:

1. Strong communication skills

Effective and productive conversations require active listening without judgement and good questioning skills to improve understanding. It also requires clear and intentional communication.

2. 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.

3. Decision making

Leaders must make astute decisions, which requires a strong knowledge of the business and its operating environment and confidence in their decision-making abilities.

4. Ability to motivate self and others

Working towards a shared goal means communicating your vision and inspiring and building momentum towards achieving that goal.


5. Self-awareness

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

6. Relationship building

Accepting different perspectives, inspiring others and investing time in forging bonds will help build 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?

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

For more information on the differences and similarities between leadership skills and traits, check out our article Leadership Skills vs Traits.

Leadership styles

Leadership styles are how you put your skills into practice. Several recognised leadership styles include autocratic, authentic and people-centred 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.

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.

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

Leadership qualities of strong listening and communication skills are confidence, responsible, and innate motivational abilities that make people want to be around them.

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.
  • Teaching and mentoring in the workplace is a transferable skill, enhancing employability across various industries.

As well as being helpful for individuals, 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.

Good leadership skills play an invaluable role in an organisation’s success, and 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 essential in the workplace?

Strong leadership skills are essential in every workplace, across all industries. Good leaders use their comprehensive abilities to propel their organisations 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 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. Over 50% 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.

Showcasing leadership skills on your CV

Leadership skills can be showcased on your CV, highlighting the strengths and abilities 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 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 few accomplishments demonstrating your sharp leadership skills that 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 the 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.

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 used his skills 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, Louise O’Shea, doubled the company’s operating profits in her first two years.

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?

If you’re interested in developing your leadership skills, there are several ways to go about it.

Personal reflection

First, take an honest assessment of where you stand now. Are you ready to lead? What would it mean to you to be a better leader?

Next, consider your performance in the leadership skills essential to your role, such as delegation, empathy and decision-making. Identify areas where you are already strong and areas where you need improvement. Do you lack confidence? How effective are you in delegating to others?

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.


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

Developing leadership skills

Now that you know where your strengths lie and the areas you would like to improve, you can create a plan of how to develop in these areas. Set yourself some clear goals. What are the specific skills you want to work on? What support do you need? How will you measure your progress?

There are several ways to develop leadership skills. One of the most effective is mentoring. Mentors help others learn by providing guidance and feedback, and this helps people improve their performance and become better leaders. You might ask colleagues for advice or seek out training programs at work.

Then, find opportunities to practice and hone these skills.

The growing need for strong leadership skills

You may ask why leadership skills matter. The reason is that now, more than ever, markets and industries are changing rapidly.

As the economy and wider society change, leadership has emerged as organisations’ number one talent issue. Deloitte’s UK Human Capital Trends 2019 survey revealed that less than 10% of organisations feel their leadership programmes effectively prepare 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 with the right skills to respond to these changes and drive them towards success.

Fortunately, with so many resources at our disposal, there are unbridled opportunities to establish and develop key leadership skills. Online tutorials, leadership skills coaching, peer groups on social media – all 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 views of 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 do that, get in touch to arrange a fee initial consultation.

Author: Gemma Rolstone | Published 18th August 2020.