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Important leadership skills for 2021

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Last editedApr 20212 min read

If you’ve spent any time in the workplace, you’ve probably come across examples of both effective and ineffective leaders. Leading a team requires an impressive grasp of soft skills. So, what are some examples of good leadership skills, and can anyone become a great leader by learning them? Here’s what matters most in the current business climate.

What are leadership skills?

There are as many different leadership skills as there are leadership styles. Some leaders are extremely hands-on, working side by side with their team, while others prefer to let teams self-direct their actions. But from a general perspective, good leadership skills inspire others to do their best. The best leaders know how to communicate, motivate, and translate hard work into success.

Here are a few examples of common leadership skills:

You can’t understate the importance of leadership skills. No organisation can succeed without a strong leader, otherwise employees are directionless. A good leader is capable of building strong teams, meeting deadlines, and using employee talents to their best potential.

Top 5 contemporary leadership skills

Most soft skills are involved in leadership, but here are a few of the most relevant contemporary leadership skills that managers must have in 2021. 

1. Building relationships

You can’t become a good leader unless you’re capable of building a strong, connected team. In today’s business climate, many managers must be able to do this from a distance, which is even more challenging. The importance of leadership skills is never more apparent than when you’re conducting Zoom meetings and building relationships with team members scattered across multiple time zones. Along with the overarching skill of relationship building, this category also includes soft skills like collaboration, interpersonal, and effective business communication.

2. Making decisions

A good leader projects strength and confidence, and decision-making skills are very helpful in this regard. As you help your team navigate through each problem that arises, eyes will turn to leadership to make the tough decisions. Decisiveness is bolstered by experience and depth of knowledge. Being able to make decisions helps boost efficiency, moving projects along from one stage to the next.

3. Time management

Although this applies to the full team, time management skills are particularly important for project leaders. You need to be able to set realistic deadlines and ensure employees are on task, potentially across multiple departments. At the same time, good leaders must be masters of managing their own time.

4. Ethical integrity

There’s a growing emphasis on corporate social responsibility throughout many industries, and along with this comes the need for leaders with personal integrity. Effective leadership skills not only include honesty and professionalism but also the ability to share visions. Making the right ethical choices helps shine a positive light on the company, but these choices must be made with integrity. If your efforts are insincere, diplomatic efforts fall flat.

5. Industry expertise

We’ve mentioned a lot of soft skills on this list so far, but effective leadership skills also involve industry expertise. If you don’t have a strong background in the industry, employees will be less likely to place their trust in you. Great leaders do the research, putting time in to gain an in-depth understanding of what makes the marketplace tick. They must serve as an authority not only for team members and employees, but also for clients and industry colleagues.

How to become a better leader

Now that we’ve looked at the importance of leadership skills, here are a few final tips to help you hone them and become a better leader.

  • Take part in leadership workshops

  • Attend leadership courses

  • Read books written by well-known executives

  • Volunteer to organise events to build experience

  • Practise skills by running a book club or sports team

  • Work on developing interpersonal relationships at work

  • Attend professional networking events

By taking every opportunity to build your leadership skills, you’ll be better able to transfer these to a useful position in the workplace.

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