Work and life often involve collaboration among different kinds of people. Effective teamwork and cohesion can only be achieved through good leadership skills. A leader can manage a team and ensure that each individual contributes.
Leadership skills are the abilities you need to manage, guide, or supervise people working toward a common goal. It involves overseeing processes and activities in the workplace, uniting individuals into a shared vision, and inspiring individuals to be the best version of themselves.
Leadership and management skills are essential in the workplace to ensure employees can work together as a team. Good leaders help smoothen workflow, increase productivity and efficiency, and create a work environment that brings out the best in employees.
Leadership skills are also crucial in our personal lives, whether as parents, spouses, or community members. They can help us become well-rounded people who nurture and develop good relationships around us.
In this article, we will be discussing the qualities of a good leader, the different leadership styles, as well as the eight key leadership skills you need in your professional and personal life, namely:
There are different types of leadership, each having its pros and cons. Different situations may require different leadership styles. Your personality and strengths usually determine what kind of leader you are.
Learn more about the different leadership styles by reading this article and find out which best suits your and your team’s needs.
People may have different leadership styles, but all good leaders share these common traits:
Perhaps the most vital characteristic of a good leader is self-awareness. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses helps you choose the right leadership style for you and your team. These can also help determine your readiness for a leadership role.
‘It’s important to try and gain an overall perspective, not just from your direct line manager, but also from your peer group and leaders in different departments as well, so that you get a holistic view,’ says Christian Bonadio, Regional Director of Michael Page in Melbourne, on how to get on the leadership track.
‘That awareness will help you adjust or adapt your style or approach to suit a wide range of individuals you might be responsible for leading at some point further in your career.’
To develop good leadership skills, you must identify your strengths and weaknesses. This will help you chart your leadership development, setting goals for yourself so you can progressively work on your skills.
Not everyone is born a good leader. But with discipline and continuous improvement, you can develop these fundamental leadership skills.
Being a good leader means communicating your team’s goals well and making it clear to every person what their roles are. Communication skills are all about expressing ideas effectively, so you must continuously improve how you reach out to your team members. Good communication skills can also help you become an inspiring leader.
Good leadership requires emotional intelligence, which means understanding and managing employees' emotions effectively. ‘When it comes to being a leader of others, everyone is different; everyone’s motivation is different,’ says Lazada Group regional head Sandy Huang. ‘I actually learn from the people from my team. I learn how to be a better leader.’
Developing empathy lets you learn from your employees’ points of view. This paves the way for mutually beneficial relationships in and out of the workplace. Listening to your team and understanding what they need helps engender trust and unity in the group. Leadership is not just about targets and deadlines. It is also about people management.
You should also make sure your ego does not get in the way of managing. ‘One thing is very important: to get our ego checked,’ says Malayan Flour Mills Berhad General Manager of Group Human Resources Carol Chan. When you climb the corporate ladder and gain authority and power, ‘that ego actually sometimes boosts up. So always have to get your ego checked, stay hungry for knowledge, and always stay humble.’
Making important decisions is one of the most essential roles of leaders. It is one of the best ways to demonstrate leadership skills. You must develop the requisite expertise, courage, and accountability to make decisions that can affect your team or your organisation as a whole.
It also helps to improve your analytical and critical thinking skills. These are some of the vital leadership and management skills that can aid you in arriving at the best decision for you and your employees. You should also study the different decision-making models and choose the one best for your situation.
Being a leader goes beyond managing people. It is also often about managing time effectively. Time management is planning work to optimise the use of time and, if possible, avoid overtime at work. This involves setting targets, distributing tasks, and monitoring the progress of individual work as well as of the entire project.
Being flexible and always ready to adapt to changes is another important leadership skill. As a leader, you must be ready to respond to new challenges and improvise if necessary. This skill will allow you to solve problems quickly and also enable you to innovate.
Being adaptable takes humility. Acknowledge that you do not know everything and be willing to learn new things. It also takes creativity, which means not being too reliant on formulas and being willing to try new solutions.
Interpersonal leadership skills are important in creating a harmonious work environment for your employees. If there are conflicts among members of your team, then you should serve as a bridge between parties and help resolve differences.
This is where building relationships with your employees can pay dividends. You can identify the problem more effectively if employees feel comfortable sharing their grievances with you. Practise active listening with all parties involved to get both sides and suggest a mutually-beneficial resolution.
Empathy is essential in conflict resolution and addressing any problems related to work. ‘When I work together with them (team members), I try to understand from their perspective, taking in their role, how they will deal with the issue,’ shares Integrated Health Information Systems (IHiS) Project Manager Roy Tan. ‘What I would usually do is guide them through mistakes that I used to make. So, there’s a lot of these experiences that I share with them.’
Leaders are also visionaries. They set the team's long-term vision, identify their goals, and what they need to do to achieve them. Aside from dealing with the day-to-day, a manager should be able to step back and see the bigger picture for the group. As chief visionary, you need strategic skills to define and map out your overall vision.
Strategic thinking is the analysis of multiple factors to plot a course of action to achieve a goal. This involves identifying opportunities to explore and tap into, as well as threats or challenges to overcome. From these, you can craft your strategy, clearly stating your goal along with detailed ways to implement it.
Delegating tasks to employees is another effective way to demonstrate leadership skills. You must be able to brief and train your team members properly so that they can be trusted to carry on tasks you assign to them. Identify their strengths and weaknesses so that you can tailor their duties and responsibilities according to their skills. Later, you can train them for bigger roles.
An important facet of delegation is providing support while also fostering independence among your employees. Giving them a certain level of autonomy can empower them and allow them to grow.
‘I learned very early on in my career that I don’t want to be a micromanager’, says Cyrene Kong, Head of Digital Strategy and Innovation at RHB Banking Group. ‘I like to give employees room to grow and to come up with their own ideas and challenge the norm. I’m not always right, so it’s more inclusive in that sense.’
Leadership is one of the most essential soft skills. It binds organisations together and helps individuals work towards a common goal. To become an effective leader, you need to think strategically to set your team’s vision. You also need to become an effective communicator with high emotional intelligence so you can sell your vision to your team members.
Being a good leader also requires problem-solving skills like adaptability, time management, conflict resolution, decision-making, and delegation. It is beneficial for leaders and people who wish to move up to management roles to keep developing these critical leadership skills through mentorship, training, and valuable experience.
Delegation – for assigning roles
Decision making – you will ultimately be the one calling the shots
Interpersonal leadership skills (communication skills, emotional intelligence, conflict resolution) – to build relationships and trust among your team
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