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Created on 07.05.2019

Leadership skills: the five qualities that make you a true leader

Leading a team of employees can be quite a daunting task, and one that becomes too much for managers all too quickly. This is because it not only requires specialist leadership competence, but also soft skills such as social skills and emotional intelligence. There are five qualities that you need to be a successful leader.

Five key leadership skills

Leading a team of people with different personalities requires skills no leadership course or management seminar ever teaches. But what skills do managers actually need in a company to get the right results with their team? We are going to outline five key leadership skills here.

Clarity

A manager should always set out common goals as clearly as possible. If the management sets its employees a number of goals such as “increase revenue” or “better time management”, don’t be surprised as their manager if you don’t get the results you had hoped for. This is because the goals you set should be specific, measurable, and, above all else, achievable. The SMART formula  can give you some food for thought here (a goal should be specific, measurable , agreed,  realistic and time-bound).

Communication

Prove your leadership skills by tailoring the way you communicate to each situation. Whatever the situation, you should be aware of your own personal strengths and skills. You should also know why you are communicating, and recognize the skills you need. If you want to motivate your employees, for instance, you will need to communicate differently than if the discussion is about negotiating pay. It is also a good idea to try and understand different types of employee and their own personal skills. Find out more about this in our video. This in turn will help you find the right way of communicating with each employee type, which will bring you the result you’re after quicker. You should also recognize your own personal leadership style, as well as the type of entrepreneur you are. Here are the different entrepreneur types:

The visionary

Do you have lots of good ideas, especially like to think about future potential and find inspiration everywhere? Are you an enthusiastic, yet thoughtful communicator? Do you love small talk, but are a bit superficial? These are the qualities of a “visionary”. Our communication tip: learn to listen more and to talk less. Ask honest, open questions that convey genuine interest. And write down all your thoughts so you can organize them better. 

The doer

Are you interested in goals and results, a quick, logical thinker and goal-driven, getting to the heart of complex subjects? Are you succinct and demanding, and do you often communicate standing up? In that case, you are a classic “doer”. You can improve the way you communicate by recognizing the fact the communication can be emotional, too, and not just a means to an end. Take some time to ask questions, sit down for a conversation every once in a while, and don’t shy away from discussing more personal subjects. 

The expert

Are logic, objectivity, organization and clarity the things that matter to you? Do you frequently run the risk of getting bogged down in details, occasionally struggle to make decisions and prefer to spend your time on analyses and planning? Do you like to be precise, and prefer to communicate in writing by e-mail? If this describes you best, you are an “expert”. Experts can help you improve the way you communicate by getting you to focus more on face-to-face interaction rather than written interaction. In face-to-face discussions, you can learn how to read and interpret the gestures and expressions of the other person, which will help you understand them better as well. 

The coach

Do you do everything as a team, from coming up with ideas and making decisions to taking breaks? Are you all about consistency? Do you set aside time for communication, feel it is important to create a friendly, comfortable atmosphere, but maybe shy away from conflict to some extent? In that case, you are a “coach”. To be a more successful leader, you need to learn to take company goals seriously, deal with conflict and disharmony, and address uncomfortable subjects. 

If you know yourself and your own communication style, you will have an easier time adapting it to a given situation.

Ability to make decisions

Nothing is worse for a company than managers who do nothing. After all, leadership competence is about making decisions, not overthinking things and trusting your own intuition. Good leadership is also about acknowledging your mistakes and learning from them, which is why it is important to notify your team about decisions at the right point in time. Decisions (e.g. to change an organization’s strategy) don’t need to be justified, but you should still give good reasons for making them.

Courage

Courageous leadership is about a manager thinking big and being innovative. Leaders should showcase their imagination, and not be afraid of thinking outside the box. A good manager should know how to question things, inspire enthusiasm for innovation, spearhead groundbreaking projects and lead the company into the future. Good leadership may, for example, require questioning existing processes in the team, and pushing for their digitization.

Passion

If you as a manager want your employees to do the best possible work, you will need to be able to inspire them. Once you have a clear goal, it is your job as a leader to spearhead proceedings. Be passionate about the work and get fully behind your idea in the company.

Humility

In times of change most of all, good leadership is about neutralizing that leader ego. In other words, humility should be interpreted more as being the ”courage to serve”. This “servant leadership” approach is a principle of leadership research devised by Robert Greenleaf. He describes the work of a company’s leaders as a service to those being led (in contrast to controlling leadership). What this means is employees should be supported and recognized for their work. As a leader, you should take a step back and allow your employees to do good work.

A true leader’s work is never done

Leading other people is a never-ending task. This is because, as a leader, you will also face new challenges, which is why you will require different leadership skills for each situation you come across. The qualities outlined here are a good basis for economic success and reaching your company goals with your employees as a team.

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