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What Are Effective Leadership Skills?

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Leadership skills is an umbrella term for specific abilities that enable you to coach, direct, motivate, evaluate and positively influence the work of others. While specific skills vary by industry and role, several, including problem-solving, people development, perseverance, relationship-building and emotional intelligence, apply in most leadership positions.

Analyze and Solve Problems

Organizations and employees rely on leaders to analyze and solve problems. During strategic planning meetings, leaders collaborate to figure out how to leverage the strengths and opportunities available to the company while avoiding pitfalls. When new government regulations or technological changes get in the way of business development, leaders explore alternatives or ways to grow without running into trouble. Problem-solving skills enable you to investigate a situation, develop alternatives and pick the right solution. Effective leaders also solve problems in employee conflicts by coaching workers through communication and conflict-resolution.

Coach and Develop People

People development is what separates a great leader from a manager who gets the basic job done. For organizations, divisions or departments to grow and prosper, leaders must build up the knowledge and expertise of their work teams. Coaching includes ongoing communication when praise or reprimands are required. Coaches also mentor workers by having regular meetings to discuss goals, strategies, results, rewards and consequences. Good coaches use evaluations to motivate employees toward optimum performance through praise for a job well done and, when necessary, constructively addressing underperformance.

Show Perseverance Through Tough Times

Workers in any job experience obstacles. As a leader, your obstacles impact many more people. Leaders are at the forefront of decisions and actions, and are more vulnerable to failures. Therefore, you need perseverance, or the ability to get up off the mat after being knocked down. Perseverance is a critical soft skill leaders develop over time. Rather than avoiding challenges, leaders recognize them as natural occurrences on the path toward lofty goals. Perseverance in leaders helps keep employees poised in the midst of turmoil.

Build Quality Relationships

The ability to develop and maintain positive relationships is paramount for a leader. You must have relationships with your followers at a minimum. Building relationships includes showing genuine interest in others, making conversation, asking questions, listening, reading nonverbal communication and acting with diplomacy. Leaders earn trust from their workers, who then rely on them for direction and guidance. For a manager to succeed, his employees must respectfully follow directions and work diligently toward team goals.

Exercise Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is actually a broad term for a set of skills related to managing your emotions and recognizing those of others. Effective leaders control their emotions, show poise under pressure and make urgent decisions in the heat of deadlines. An effective leader recognizes when an employee or work team is experiencing morale problems even when the sentiment is unspoken. This emotional intelligence allows a leader to step in, identify the root source of the problem, and take proactive measures to get the worker or team headed in the right direction.


Neil Kokemuller has been an active business, finance and education writer and content media website developer since 2007. He has been a college marketing professor since 2004. Kokemuller has additional professional experience in marketing, retail and small business. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Iowa State University.

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