Sunday, May 5, 2013

Leadership Skills

Perhaps the most important skill a leader needs is to be able to make decisions; leadership is all about having a vision of where you want to be and making decisions along the way to get closer to achieving this vision.  Decision-making in leadership however involves other people as leaders need followers, so the decision-making process will usually have an impact on your team of followers.  With this in mind, a good leader also needs strong ‘people skills' since a leader needs to be able to communicate the vision and motivate the team to follow.
Along the way to achieving the vision the leader will come upon many problems, hence problem solving is therefore another key leadership skill.  Problems come in all shapes and sizes, from those related to the people in your team when mediation skills may be needed, to those of a more strategic nature and everything in between.  A good leader will not be afraid of problems and, with trust and respect, followers will not be afraid to discuss problems or potential problems. With a positive attitude, problems can become opportunities and learning experiences.  A leader’s biggest asset is information as the more information a leader possesses about the how to achieve the vision or individual goals along the way, the more the leader learns about the direction needed to get there.  Problems provide information and therefore good problem solving is a very powerful skill for the leader.
As with anything in life, things do not always go according to plan and leadership is no exception. The direction a leader takes in order to realise their vision is likely to change.  Strong leaders embrace change and can adapt quickly and efficiently to new situations since they learn to balance opportunity and risk while being aware of their (and their team’s) strengths and weaknesses.
A leader also needs to be a strong facilitator - that is providing the support necessary for the team to achieve their goals.  Support may be as simple as words of encouragement or a specific tool needed to perform a task.  By listening to team-members, a leader can often learn about the barriers preventing a goal from being achieved and, through facilitation, find a way to an appropriate solution.
A common mistake of a leader is to try to do everything themselves.  A good leader will delegate responsibility to team members and, with the help of motivation and facilitation, aim to enable success.  Delegation also allows the leader to learn more about the strengths and weaknesses of the team members and therefore make better informed decisions about individual roles and responsibilities.

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