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Leadership 101: Part 3 – Key Skills of Leadership & Self-Assessment

Layne McDonald. Ph.D.

There is a troublesome humor some men have, that if they may not lead, they will not follow; but had rather a thing were never done, than not done their own way, tho’ other ways very desirable. - William Penn

There is no exact definition of what a leader does. A leadership style is influenced by their personality and the challenges they face. If you search for the word leadership on Google, you will soon find that there are leadership styles. However, there are certain qualities that all good leaders share. 

They are: 

• Responsibility 

• Focus 

• Awareness 

• Honesty 

• Confidence 

• Inspiration 

• Decisiveness 

• Optimism

• Empathy 

Leadership plays several roles in ensuring an organization's smooth functioning. As you have seen in the earlier chapter, the following skills are critical:  

Strategic Thinking 

One of the skills sought and expected of leaders in organizations is the ability to think, plan, and act strategically? This skill allows us to find opportunities to bring value to the company and challenge the status quo and the premises on which the company is based to face current and future challenges. The absence of this competency will lead people to comply, apply past solutions to future problems, and not deal with threats but opportunities early on. 

Inspiring and Motivating 

An inspirational leader helps you bring out the best in yourself. A motivating leader pushes others to do more and brings out the best. People who work for an inspiring leader are enthusiastic, encouraged, energized, motivated, and engaged. They believe that what they do is essential and that they are making a difference. 

Critical Thinking, Analyzing, and Problem-Solving Abilities 

Too often, we focus on the symptoms rather than the cause. When a leader is faced with a problem, they use critical thinking and analyze the trouble finding solutions. A leader will find the factual issues underlying the symptoms by asking the right questions. Instead of saying the obvious (or the problem), the leader will supply ideas for solutions. 

Demonstrating Transparency, Integrity, and Honesty 

To succeed in life, you live and must be sincere because dishonesty always catches up with us. It is impossible to achieve without developing a solid reputation for honesty and integrity. 

Interpersonal relationships are based on trust, and you cannot trust someone dishonest. Integrity is a crucial success factor and a leader’s most critical persuasive tool. Honesty is the basis on which all other aspects are based. The leader is a model of integrity for others and is about being a role model to inspire others to behave similarly. 

Developing Others 

Great leaders are not afraid to recognize the skills of others and support others in their development. A great leader realizes that it is essential to create an environment where exchange and knowledge transfer are a given. The leader honestly believes that everybody can gain experience and grow. 

Learning, Creating, and Innovating 

Not only are leaders supportive of others’ learning, but they also thrive in learning new things. They love creating and innovating in their area of expertise. They are not afraid to say they do not know and learn about it. Leaders embrace changes as an opportunity to gain experience. 

Driving Results 

Leaders know how to drive results because their goal is clear and how it relates to others. They go results because they know how to engage others in actions that will lead them to success. They understand how people participate in the goal and find ways to spark that passion in others to move forward. 

Communicating in a Powerful and Effective Way  

It is one thing to know where you are going; it is another to communicate it clearly so that others understand you. A leader’s communication is clear, open, and aligned with their actions. The biggest communication tool a leader has is behavior. What you see is what you get. 

Building Relationships 

It is believed that most leaders in a leadership role have gained that role because of the relationship they have built. You are familiar with the expression: “It is not what you know, but whom you know.” Building relationships is vital if you want to be a strong leader. Not people will follow a person to whom they cannot relate. 

Displaying Technical or Professional Expertise 

People look up to people who know things and can prove skills and knowledge in their field. The same applies to leaders. You can be a leader in your area if you are good at it. Others will look up to you for help when they struggle or for advice to succeed like you. 

Since leadership is not a natural skill, knowing where we lack and what we need to improve on becomes essential. The following assessment will help you understand your leadership skills and how much work you must put into development. 

Here are fifteen questions that will help you define your leadership abilities. 

1. Can you find your three main strengths? 

2. Can you find your three principal areas of concern? 

3. Do your actions reflect your words and values? 

4. Do you listen carefully to the ideas of those who disagree with you? 

5. Are you bold enough to ask for feedback on your behaviors and use the information you gather as a tool to get to know yourself better? 

6. When others do something wrong, do you take the time to help them see what they need to change and how they can solve problems? 

7. Can you assess your environment’s state and improve it? 

8. Do you can communicate a vision or goal? 

9. Do you can mobilize people? 

10. Do you have a propensity to encourage rather than criticize? 

11. Do you take risks? 

12. Do you have a sense of innovation and creativity? 

13. Do you make decisions quickly?

14. Are you inspiring and admired by your employees? 

15. Do you recognize your mistakes easily? 

The number of “no” answers or reinforce to reach your ultimate potential as a leader. This book will help you do exactly that. 

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