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Leadership characteristics


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Leadership characteristics

  1. 1. Leadership Characteristics Leadership characteristics are an interesting topic because some people wonder ifthey possess these characteristics without completely understanding what they might be. In otherwords, we have people trying to figure out if they are leaders, but they dont really understandwhat defines a leader. Lets take a close look at some of the characteristics of a leader so you canfigure out how you measure up.Characteristics of a LeaderListed below we have a total of eight leadership characteristics that we believe help to define aleader today. As you read through each characteristic, youll notice the word "skill" is used manytimes. Thats because for many of us, becoming an effective leader takes practice.Interpersonal SkillsThe first leadership characteristic were going to discuss Additional Resourcesis interpersonal skills. Leaders that have earned the trustand respect of their followers can use this trust to move Leadership Characteristicsthe organization towards the achievements of its goal. Leadership QualitiesThese leaders are able to use their interpersonal skills to Leadership Traitswork through difficult relationships, and keep the peace Leadership Skillin their departments. These individuals are good at Leadership Skills Assessmentlistening as well as providing constructive feedback. Developing Leadership Skills Understanding Soft SkillsCommunication SkillsLeaders demonstrating communication skills are both good speakers and listeners. Through theirwords they can help keep the workforce motivated and committed. They also listen to theirfollowers, and ask questions when they want to make sure they have a good understanding ofwhat is being expressed.ValuesLeaders must also value the diversity of a workforce, and understand that a diverse group ofemployees will bring a broader perspective to the organization. They will treat followers withthe respect they deserve, and do not display favoritism. They operate with a high level of ethics,which becomes an example for others to follow.Organizational ConsciousnessLeadership characteristics sometimes go beyond personal traits, and touch on areas such asorganizational consciousness or knowledge. These are leaders that understand what theorganization wants to achieve, and know how it can be accomplished. They create networks
  2. 2. within the organization to help their groups get work done, and are just as adept at breakingdown organizational barriers to progress.ConfidenceLeaders need to carry themselves with confidence, and are not afraid to take ownership for bothpopular and unpopular decisions. They must be able to learn from criticisms, and are oftenacutely aware of their own shortcomings. Confident leaders are able to maintain a calmdemeanor even during emergencies, and this can be contagious when it needs to be.FlexibilityAnother important characteristic of leaders are their ability to remain flexible, and adapt theirleadership style to meet the demands of the current work environment. They must be able towork with others to meet organizational goals, and shift focus as necessary.Creativity SkillsLeaders demonstrating creativity skills are able to develop innovative solutions to old problems.The diversity they build in their organizations helps them to develop more comprehensiveanswers to routine questions. Creative leaders are able to translate technical information intosolutions that are understood by everyone.Achieving ResultsThe last leadership characteristic were going to discuss is achieving results. Leaders just dontset the example for others to follow; they also play a big role in achieving the goals of theorganization. Through their leadership skills, they maintain a high level of performance in theirorganizations, and they are able to help keep their workforce motivated even when faced with aseemingly impossible situation.Since they have a deep understanding of what an organization needs to accomplish, they are ableto quickly identify and solve the important objectives of an organization.Final Thoughts on Leadership CharacteristicsThis last point is an important one that often separates true leaders from the rest of anorganization. Leadership is much more complex than merely earning a high-status position in acompany, and the ability to order people to do things. It is a participative journey that the leadermust be willing to walk with others.Its a skill thats acquired over a lifetime, and these characteristics are something we can"practice" just about every day of our life. Keep in mind that great leaders are not born, they aremade. Great leaders also make mistakes.
  3. 3. But one thing that a great leader does very well is learn from their mistakes. Practice thesecharacteristics; avoid repeating the same mistake, and one day youll no longer be wondering ifyou are a leader - youll know in your heart that you are one.Leadership Qualities One of those intangible characteristics that people often search for in their careers isleadership qualities. People ask of themselves: Do I have what it takes to be a leader in thisorganization? On the flip side, you might think that you have what it takes to be a leader, butyou are left wondering: Does my boss see the leadership qualities that I possess?Leadership Theory StudiesTo answer either of these questions, you first need to understand what it means to be a leader.The subject is quite intriguing, and many scholars have devoted their careers to the developmentof leadership theories.History tells us of many great leaders. These are men and women that have risen above the rest,and accomplished what seem like impossible tasks or changes to society. There is no doubt thatsociety will continue to be challenged in the future and, as the term goes, history tends to repeatitself.So therein lays the reason for the study of leadership, and the qualities of those leaders. If we canrecognize these characteristics, or train people to be better leaders, then solving the problems thatthe future holds for us should be much easier than it was the first time around.Leadership Qualities versus Leadership StyleSome people mistakenly believe that leadership qualities are the same as leadership styles. Infact, the basic study of leadership includes this hierarchy: Qualities - the characteristics that are the fundamental building blocks of a leaders persona. Leadership Style - the logical bundling of leadership qualities that, when assembled, help to define a style that the leader practices. Situational Leadership - the alignment of leadership styles to the social, political or work environment that is surrounding the leader.Given this understanding, it is easier to visualize where the qualities themselves fit into the widevariety of modern leadership models.Fundamental Qualities of a LeaderFiguring out if you have the right leadership qualities to be considered a leader in your particularorganization then becomes one of sorting through all the leadership literature to develop the list
  4. 4. of the most important qualities found in leaders. Fortunately, the five components of emotionalintelligence seem to cover the majority of these characteristics except one - intelligence.If you remember the story told by Goleman in his book, he talks about the components ofemotional intelligence. Goleman argued that this theory accounts for characteristics that arebeyond pure intellect. It is therefore fitting to include intelligence as the first, and essential,quality of a leader.Intelligence as a Leadership QualityBusiness acumen, political savvy, a deep understanding of social issues, knowledge - these areall ways to describe the intelligence quality of a leader. So intelligence becomes our firstfundamental leadership quality. Effective leaders have a good understanding of what needs toget done, and how to go about changing things.Emotional Intelligence and LeadersEmotional intelligence is a form of intelligence that goes a long way in describing what separatessmart people from leaders. That is to say, that there are many more smart people than there areeffective leaders. You might not agree with everything written about emotional intelligence, butit is hard to find a quality in a leader that is not described in these five components: Self Awareness - the ability to recognize and understand your own emotions, moods, and motivations. Self awareness is the talent of understanding who you are, which leaders must be able to do before they can begin to understand the motivation, moods, and emotions of others. Self Regulation - the ability to control your own emotions, counterproductive impulses, and moods. Self regulation is the leadership quality of remaining in control of your emotions. Motivation - a drive and passion that goes beyond money or status. Motivation and leadership are often tightly coupled when an organization is realizing above-average results. Empathy - the ability to really understand another persons point of view. Empathy is different than sympathy, which is the emotion of feeling sorry for someone else. Social Skills - the ability to manage relationships and networking. "Social skills" is used to describe a leaders ability to get along with others in the organization.Final Thoughts on Leadership QualitiesKeep in mind that being a leader often involves striking a balance, and the same can be saidabout the skills and intelligence qualities of a leader that are described above. You can use otheradjectives to describe leadership qualities, but the components described by emotionalintelligence and intellect cover all the bases pretty well.If you think you are a leader, then measure yourself against these components. Leadership is a
  5. 5. lifelong learning experience: leaders are made, theyre not born. If you want others to recognizethat you are a leader; then make sure you practice these leadership qualities so that others can seethem in you too.Leadership Style Managers often get feedback on their leadership style through formal training. Butthat training usually only identifies the leadership styles that youre currently exhibiting. Youmight learn the strengths and weaknesses of each style, but thats only scratching the surfacewhen it comes to leading others.Leadership Styles at WorkWe believe that the focus of this type of training should be on the situational use of leadershipstyles, and the flexing of those styles to varying circumstances at work. For example, what is themost effective style to use when placed in a certain situation? This is one of the guidingprincipals behind the various models of leadership styles.This last point is an important one. Research has Additional Resourcesdemonstrated that the leaders ability to adopt his or herleadership style to the situation at hand is important to Leadership Theoriestheir organizations success. The best leaders are skilled Leadership Styleat several styles, and instinctively understand when to use Transformational Leadershipthem at work. Situational Leadership Transactional LeadershipChoosing a Leadership StyleIn the following sections we are going to explain the six different leadership styles that wereidentified by Daniel Goleman in connection with his theory of emotional intelligence. Wevechosen Golemans model of leadership style because its both simple and all-encompassing.In his writings, Goleman described a total of six different leadership styles. Much of thisinformation already appears in our article on situational leadership. If youre interested in theeffective application of different leadership styles, then you might want to look at that article toobecause it also speaks to the theory put forth by Ken Blanchard and Paul Hersey.The examples of leadership styles appearing below contain a brief description of the leaderscharacteristics, as well as an example of when the styles are most effective.Coaching LeadersIn the Coaching Leadership Style the leader focuses on helping others in their personaldevelopment, and in their job-related activities. The coaching leader aids others to get up tospeed by working closely with them to make sure they have the knowledge and tools to besuccessful. This situational leadership style works best when the employee already understands
  6. 6. their weaknesses, and is receptive to improvement suggestions or ideas.Pacesetting LeadersWhen employees are self-motivated and highly skilled, the Pacesetting Leadership Style isextremely effective. The pacesetting leader sets very high performance standards for themselvesand the group. They exemplify the behaviors they are seeking from other members of thegroup. This leadership style needs to be used sparingly since workers can often "burn out" dueto the demanding pace of this style.Democratic LeadersThe Democratic Leadership Style gives members of the work group a vote, or a say, in nearlyevery decision the team makes. When used effectively, the democratic leader builds flexibilityand responsibility. They can help identify new ways to do things with fresh ideas. Be carefulwith this style, however, because the level of involvement required by this approach, as well asthe decision-making process, can be very time consuming.Affiliative LeadersThe Affiliative Leadership Style is most effective in situations where morale is low orteambuilding is needed. This leader is easily recognized by their theme of "employee first."Employees can expect much praise from this style; unfortunately, poor performance may also gowithout correction.Authoritative LeadersIf your business seems to be drifting aimlessly, then the Authoritative Leadership Style can bevery effective in this type of situation. The authoritative leader is an expert in dealing with theproblems or challenges at hand, and can clearly identify goals that will lead to success. Thisleader also allows employees to figure out the best way to achieve those goals.Coercive LeadersThe Coercive Leadership Style should be used with caution because its based on the concept of"command and control," which usually causes a decrease in motivation among those interactingwith this type of manager. The coercive leader is most effective in situations where the companyor group requires a complete turnaround. It is also effective during disasters, or dealing withunder performing employees - usually as a last resort.Mastering Multiple Leadership StylesThe formula for a leaders success is really quite simple: The more leadership styles that you areable to master, the better the leader you will become. Certainly the ability to switch betweenstyles, as situations warrant, will result in superior results and workplace climate.
  7. 7. In fact, Golemans research revealed that leaders who were able to master four or moreleadership styles - especially the democratic, authoritative, affiliative and coaching styles - oftenachieved superior performance from their followers as well as a healthy climate in which towork.Its not easy to master multiple leadership styles. In order to master a new way of leading others,we may need to unlearn old habits. This is especially important for leaders that fall back on thepacesetting and coercive leadership styles, which have a negative affect on the workenvironment.Learning a new leadership style therefore takes practice and perseverance. The more often thenew style or behavior is repeated, the stronger the link between the situation at hand and thedesired reaction.You can work with a coach, a mentor, or keep your own notes on how you reacted under certainconditions. Learning a new skill requires time, patience, feedback, and even rewards to staymotivated. If youre going to attempt to learn a different leadership style make sure yourapproach contains each of these elements.Leadership Traits Weve all heard of the stories about how someone stepped up and became a leader.You may have even heard someone make the comment "Well that kid was born a leader."Unfortunately, it is not all that simple. Leadership traits are not necessarily hereditary - theparticular debate goes back to your beliefs about nature versus nurture.Nurture, Nature and Leadership TraitsThe Nature or Nurture argument in a leadership setting means this: Was the person born thatway (nature), or did they learn about leadership from someone else (nurture)? The theories ofleadership weve studied as well as the traits of a leader, lean more towards nurture.Leadership traits are learned from observing the Additional Resourcessuccesses and failures of others, or through direct trialand error experiences. Whether or not a person accepts Leadership Characteristicsthe responsibility of being a leader is a function of their Leadership Qualitiespersonality. The difference is subtle but important. A Leadership Traitspersons experience allows them to understand what it Leadership Skilltakes to be a leader, but whether they express these Leadership Skills Assessmentleadership traits themselves is a personal choice. Developing Leadership Skills Understanding Soft SkillsLeadership Traits and EmotionalIntelligenceDaniel Goleman has written extensively about what makes a person a leader. In his book
  8. 8. Emotional Intelligence, Goleman divides leadership traits into two broad categories: Self Management Skills, and The Ability to Relate to OthersWithin these two broad categories, Goleman goes on to describe five components, or traits, ofemotional intelligence that help to make a person into a leader. Below is a brief summary ofGolemans findings.Self Management SkillsThis first broad category of leadership traits has to do with the abilities of leaders to "manage"themselves. The hypothesis here is that leaders must first look inwards, and be in control ofthemselves, before they can start to lead others. Self Awareness - When we have a deep understanding of ourselves, including our strengths and weaknesses, then we are said to be self aware. For example, if you know that you do not work well under pressure, then you are exhibiting the trait of self awareness. Self Regulation - The leadership trait of self regulation leverages self awareness but takes it one step further. People that exhibit self regulation are able to not only understand their impulsive behaviors, but also control them. Motivation - Have you ever been asked this question: How can I get this worker motivated? Well, the answer is quite simple: You cannot motivate others. Motivation comes from within, and is a driving passion that exists inside a person. The most a leader can do is to create an environment where motivation thrives. Understanding the nuances of motivation is an essential trait for anyone in a leadership role.The Ability to Relate to OthersThe second broad category of leadership traits you need to master are those involving yourability to relate to those around you. They describe, quite simply, a leaders ability to relate toothers. Empathy - In order to be a successful leader, you must be able to deal effectively with others. The first step in understanding another persons viewpoint is through the leadership trait of empathy. Putting yourself in their shoes, and taking into account their reaction to your decisions. Social Skills - Goleman maintains that all of the other leadership traits culminate in this skill. In this context, social skills are defined as the ability to build rapport with others, and get them to work together towards a common goal.You may not see a lot of nature in the above leadership traits. People are not born with goodsocial skills. They develop them by observing what is acceptable in society, and what iseffective. We also talked about personalities that will accept the role of a leader. That is wheremotivation becomes so important. We can learn to master these leadership traits, but without the
  9. 9. right motivation you are simply a bystander.Leadership Traits versus Leadership StylesAs a reminder, all of these leadership traits should not be confused with leadership styles. In theabove, we are talking about the traits or characteristics of a leader. The things we might see inourselves, or in leaders around us. This is not to be confused with how to effectively lead others,which has more to do with leadership styles.Leadership Skill Weve all questioned the strength of our leadership skills at one time in our career. Ifyouve ever had the chance to supervise or manage a group of individuals, then youve probablywondered if that group felt you were a leader. You may have even tried to guess if peers aroundyou feel youre a leader. Perhaps you have even hoped that your boss sees the leadership skillsthat you possess.Lets face it, to get ahead in the business world today you need to separate yourself from thepack. Competition at work is fierce. You can go to school, get a college diploma, and you caneven get advanced degrees in very specialized areas. Were not arguing against the importanceof school; but in todays workplace, a well-educated individual is becoming commonplace.Leadership Skill and Career GrowthIf you have specialized technical skills, then they will Additional Resourcesonly take you so far in your career. Thats what thisarticle on leadership skills is going to address. You Leadership Characteristicsmight be recognized as a specialist, or even a subject Leadership Qualitiesmatter expert. But without good leadership skills, it is Leadership Traitsvery likely that you are only qualified to reach the end of Leadership Skilla "technical" career path. There is even a term for people Leadership Skills Assessmentin those positions in an organization: individual Developing Leadership Skillscontributors. And for many of us, we can feel very Understanding Soft Skillssuccessful wearing that label.If you want more career growth options, then you need to demonstrate effective leadershipskills. Every hiring manager that fills an opening for a manager or supervisor hopes that personthey are going to hire is a leader. Thats because even managers that have successfullydemonstrated that they can deliver superior results can have their careers derailed by weakleadership skills.Skills and Characteristics of LeadersSo what exactly are the characteristics and / or skills that are found in leaders, and how can theybe learned? Well, weve all heard the expression "natural born leaders" but its hard to believe
  10. 10. that genetics has much to do with true leadership ability. It could easily be argued thatindividuals demonstrating leadership skills early in life are probably just emulating someonevery close to them - a father or mother - someone that has subconsciously taught them leadershipskills.In fact, nearly everyone exhibits leadership skills or characteristics under certain situations. Thiscould happen in a work setting, at home or in the community. These are skills that are developedand honed over a lifetime. They grow in complexity as our personalities grow. The trick then isto accelerate the leadership skills development process, so that we are able to exhibit thesecharacteristics early in our career.This website has already published several articles that can help you to better understand thefiner points of leadership. Weve provided hints on how to further develop these skills in thefollowing publications:Transformational LeadershipOur article on transformational leadership explains a concept that James MacGregor Burnsdeveloped when describing these types of leaders. Specifically, the article covers the concepts oftransformational leadership, transactional leadership, moral and amoral leaders.Situational LeadershipOur article on situational leadership explains the four styles of leadership developed by KenBlanchard: directing, coaching, supporting, and delegating. We also review the situationalleadership model developed in Daniel Golemans emotional intelligence. One of the key skills ofsituational leadership theory is the ability to flex your leadership style to the current workenvironment.Leadership StylesFinally, our article on Leadership Styles discusses the six leadership styles identified byGoleman. In that article, you will find descriptions outlining the most appropriate time to use aparticular leadership style. That article concludes with some hints on how to become skilled inthe art of mastering multiple leadership styles.Leadership Skills Training ProgramsIf youre interested in developing your leadership skills in a more compressed timeframe, thenyou might want to take a look at our publication on Leadership Training. Here youll find somepractical advice on the basics of leadership training programs, as well as where you can go tofind some very effective executive leadership training courses.Leadership Skills Assessment
  11. 11. There are many tests that you can take that will help you assess your leadership skillsor style. You can spend hours filling out questionnaires that will help you determine yourleadership style, your strengths, and weaknesses. Our leadership skills assessment is muchsimpler than those detailed assessments, but we promise the results to be nearly as insightful.Our assessment is broken down into two sections. In the first section of our assessment, wellhelp uncover what makes your personality so special, using examples from the Myers BriggsType Indicator (r). Our second section will help you understand your leadership style, especiallyat work. In that second assessment, were going to help you by identifying the attributesassociated with each of Daniel Golemans leadership styles.This leadership skills assessment is meant to whet your Additional Resourcesappetite for more robust tests. There are certainly moredetailed assessments that you can take, and they usually Leadership Characteristicscharge a fee. If youre looking for a quick introduction to Leadership Qualitiesthese types of skills assessments, we think we can help. Leadership Traits Leadership Skill Leadership Skills AssessmentPersonality Style Assessment Developing Leadership Skills Understanding Soft SkillsOur first leadership assessment is the Myers Briggs TypeIndicator (r) or MBTI. You may have overheardcoworkers talking about their "type" using four letter abbreviations such as ISTJ. These fourquadrants are often used to describe the leadership, learning, and working styles you mayexhibit. There are a total of eight preferences along these four quadrants, meaning there aresixteen possible types.In this part of the assessment, you will pick the description that best fits your style from each ofthe following four pairs.Extroversion / IntroversionThe first two letters of the type describe whether or not youre introverted (I) or extroverted (E).This dimension describes how you gain energy. Introversion (I) - Introverted people keep their energy inside themselves. They often pause and think carefully before responding, and may enjoy communicating through voicemail and email rather than face-to-face. Extroversion (E) - Extroverted people often communicate with energy and emotion. They like to communicate with others, even large groups. Theyd much rather visit someone so they can talk face to face than call or use email.Sensing / IntuitionThe next dimension describes how you perceive things around you: through sensing or intuition.
  12. 12. Sensing (S) - Sensing individuals like to be presented with the facts. They like realistic and practical information. They rely on information they can touch or feel, and often follow a precise pattern when they communicate. Intuition (N) - Intuitive people like broad ideas that consider the future and possibilities. They like to use insights as information, and prefer general concepts. Logic is a secondary consideration.Thinking / FeelingThis third dimension has to do with how you make decisions: via thinking or feeling. Thinking (T) - Thinking people like to list out the pros and cons of each approach. They prefer to think about things objectively, and use emotions as a secondary consideration. Feeling (F) - Feeling people seek out the involvement of others when making decisions. They prefer to be personable, and reach agreement, before making a decision. They are concerned with the decisions impact on values and people.Judging / PerceivingThe final dimension in this skills assessment has to do with the lifestyle the person adopts. Judging (J) - Judging people like schedules and timelines, not surprises. They expect others to follow through on promises and commitments. Judging people like to hear about results and achievements. Perceiving (P) - Perceiving people dont like to commit to deadlines. They like to hear about opportunities or options and enjoy flexibility. Perceiving people enjoy surprises and easily adapt to last minute changes.To get a gauge on the MBTI that might apply to your leadership style, you should have pickedone description from each pair. For example, if you were Introverted (I), Sensing (S), Thinking(T), and Judging (J), then your MBTI type would be described as ISTJ.Some of you may see yourself in both sides of each pairing. That is one example of how moredetailed leadership skills assessments can help. That being said, most things are not black andwhite in this world but shades of grey, and the same can be said of these types of skillsassessments.Leadership Style AssessmentThis second leadership skills assessment has to do with your predominant leadership style.There are a total of six leadership styles described by Daniel Goleman. Keep in mind that mostleaders will flex their leadership style to the situation; this is appropriately termed situationalleadership. However, most leaders do have a predominant style that they often fall back into -usually in times of stress.
  13. 13. Coercive Leadership Style - Coercive leaders often demand immediate compliance with theirorders. This type of leader has an extreme drive to achieve. They also exhibit a great deal of selfcontrol, and often take the initiative when they spot a problem. Over the long haul, coerciveleaders can have a negative impact on the workplace.Authoritative Leadership Style - Authoritative leaders often try to mobilize workers towards avision. They allow workers to see how they fit into the big picture. They are seen as experts intheir area, and demonstrate a lot of self confidence. Authoritative leaders also demonstrate a lotof empathy.Affiliative Leadership Style - The Affiliative leader likes to create harmony and buildrelationships in the workplace. They believe that people come first, and like to communicatewith others.Democratic Leadership Style - The Democratic leader likes to get others involved in thedecision-making process. They enjoy coming to consensus through the active participation ofothers.Pacesetting Leadership Style - Pacesetting leaders set high standards of performance forthemselves and others around them. They have a great deal of drive to achieve targets, andexpect the same type of drive from those around them. Unless workers are just as driven as theleader, this style can also have a detrimental affect on followers over the long term.Coaching Leadership Style - Coaching leaders enjoy developing people that may one day be theleaders of the company. They have a great deal of self awareness, and enjoy helping othersimprove their skills.Skills AssessmentThats all there is to our leadership skills assessment. Weve covered two of the most importantaspects of leaders at work: how they operate themselves, and how they interact with others.Its not easy to understand others, but as leaders its important to understand what motivatespeople. Throughout your career, you may be asked to take a variety of leadership skillsassessments. Our advice is to use each occasion as an opportunity to learn a bit more aboutyourself, and how you interact with others. If you do, then youll be a more effective leader inthe long run.Developing Leadership Skills Essentially, leadership skills are the behaviors that you would exhibit when placed invarious situations. Thats the foundation for various leadership theories such as situationalleadership. Assessing your leadership style can help you not only in identifying your strengthsand weaknesses as a leader, but also in developing your leadership skills.
  14. 14. Leadership Skills DefinedSo what exactly are good leadership skills? One way to answer this question is through thissimple statement:Good leadership skills are the behaviors that allow you to get the results youre after, while atthe same time positively motivating your followers.Now while this might sound like an easy rule to follow, Additional Resourcesin practice its not all that simple. Many "leaders"achieve remarkable short term results at the expense of Leadership Characteristicsthe long term morale of employees. This article on Leadership Qualitiesleadership skills is going to avoid a discussion of that Leadership Traitstype of approach. Were going to focus on identifying Leadership Skillleadership skills that should provide both short-term and Leadership Skills Assessmentlong-term results that are sustainable. Developing Leadership Skills Understanding Soft SkillsEmotional Intelligence andLeadership SkillsDaniel Goleman and his approach to Emotional Intelligence provided us with a great deal ofinsight into the types of leadership skills were seeking. Thats because by its very nature,leading other individuals is all about successfully interacting with people. Emotionalintelligence helps us to understand the dynamics of those interactions.The core leadership skills that we all need as potential and existing leaders can be summarizedvia the following five attributes. It is via these five attributes, or skills, that we are able tomanage not only ourselves, but our interactions with those around us. Understanding thesecompetencies allow us to recognize the skills that will make us successful.Self AwarenessSelf awareness is our ability to understand what makes us who we are at work or at home. It is aleadership skill that allows us to understand not only our own emotions, but also the impact theycan have on our work performance and our relationships with coworkers.Self awareness is the ability to understand our own emotions, moods, and motivations.Self RegulationWhile the leadership skill of self awareness asks us to take a deep look inside ourselves, the skillof self regulation is the ability to control our emotions that are counterproductive to achievingour goals.
  15. 15. How often have you observed a manager / leader and thought to yourself - they are their ownworst enemy? Did they allow their emotions and impulsive behavior to lead them down thewrong path? Self regulation is the skill used to control the moods, impulses, and emotions thatcan hurt our relationships with coworkers.Motivational SkillsMotivation can be an entire topic unto itself. In fact, we have an article dedicated to motivationand leadership. We define motivation as the drive or passion that goes beyond money or status.With that in mind, motivation can take two forms: Extrinsic Motivation - this is the motivation that comes from external sources, such as a managers recognition for a job well done. Intrinsic Motivation - this is the motivation that comes from within, often referred to as self motivation or internal motivation.As a leader, its important to develop your skill at identifying what motivates yourself as well asthose around you. Finding out what motivates others is often accomplished by trial and error.There are a number of approaches suggested to improve this skill in the motivation articlereferenced earlier.Empathy SkillsEmpathy is perhaps the most important leadership skill that involves your relationship withothers. Empathy is the leaders ability to understand the other persons point of view. Manyleaders-in-training mistakenly believe that sympathy is the same skill as empathy - its not.Empathy is your ability to truly put yourself in the other persons shoes and understand how theyare feeling. Its the ability to understand the impact change can have on someone else, and takingtheir feelings into consideration before making a change.Social SkillsThe last leadership skill were going to discuss is social skills. To be an effective leader youneed to socialize with others. In this way, social skills are very much like effective networkingskills in a work setting.Your followers need to understand that youre a human being - just like them. You need to takean interest and listen when employees talk about their families or loved ones because they playan important role in their lives. You need to be able to develop and guide others, and you do thatusing the rapport you develop via social skills.Development of Leadership SkillsNow that we have a foundation in the understanding of the types of leadership skills that are
  16. 16. important in the workplace, we can move onto a discussion of the development of leadershipskills. These are the techniques you can practice to help you become a more effective leader.Golden Rule at WorkPerhaps the single most important leadership skill you can practice nearly every day is treatingothers the way you wish to be treated. Unfortunately, among the chaos we find at work, this isnot always as easy as it sounds.Pressures to improve the "bottom line" and "just get it done" are two examples of attitudes thatmight prevent us from following this golden rule. As leaders in an organization, we need tostrike a balance of short term results and long term job satisfaction. You need to practice thisbalance every day by asking yourself this question: Is this the way I would want to be treated?Autocratic and Coercive Leadership StylesWhile these two leadership styles have a place in certain situations, the autocratic leadershipstyle and the coercive style are arguably the two most destructive styles a leader can practice.Autocratic leaders, by definition, make all the decisions themselves and take responsibility forthe results achieved. Autocrats can be extremely hard to work for over the long haul, and arecharacterized by the statement "just do as I say."Coercive leaders were found to have the most negative affect on the workplace climate. Thistype of leader demands immediate compliance, and uses threats to pressure coworkers intocompliance. If youre a leader that practices one of these two leadership styles, you better have agood reason - such as the need to turn around an organization.Coaching and TeachingAnother leadership skill youll want to develop has to do with coaching and teaching others.This is especially effective in a situation where you might be viewed as an expert. As a leader,you should be extremely interested in the growth and development of the people directlyreporting to you.The benefit of coaching and teaching others is threefold. For example, you have an opportunityto develop a replacement for yourself from a succession planning standpoint. You can also resteasier when away from the office when you know you have a good backup. Finally, manyemployees like the challenge of new assignments, and the act of teaching and learning canmotivate many individuals.You can develop your coaching skills by working directly with others. Or you can simply askthem if they have any questions, or would like some help with an assignment.Delegating Tasks
  17. 17. Here were talking about true delegation of tasks - not dumping work on your coworker andrunning away. The proper delegating of tasks by leaders will not only result in an additionallearning experience for the follower, but also serves as a signal that you trust in their abilities.You can develop your delegating skills by starting small, assigning tasks youre certain can besuccessfully completed on time and with acceptable quality. As you and your direct reportsbecome more comfortable and confident, you can begin delegating more important and difficulttasks.Democracy at WorkThe final leadership skill were going to discuss is what were calling "democracy at work." Thisis simply encouraging independent thinking, and allowing coworkers to believe they have a sayin the direction that the team is going.There are a couple of things you need to watch out for when practicing this particular leadershipskill. The first thing has to do with timing. The democratic leadership style can often result indelays in getting work done. By allowing others to "vote" on how and what to do, you need tobe prepared for the debate and dialog that often comes with this freedom to speak up and beheard.As was the situation with delegating tasks, an example of how to practice this skill is in order.You can start with a relatively trivial question or assignment and gather your direct reportstogether and ask them their opinion on how to proceed.This should not be a matter so trivial that their reaction is "why bother asking us this question?"Again, think of how youd feel if your manager asked you this type of question.Final Thoughts on Developing Leadership SkillsDeveloping any skill takes practice; especially if youve never done something like this before inyour career. Remember your goal here - you want to be a better leader, and that can take time.You might also want to take a look at several of the articles weve already published concerningleadership styles and situational leadership. These publications will outline the attributes of theleadership styles discussed, and also help you to understand when each style is most effective.Finally, dont be afraid of making mistakes. Good leaders take calculated risks, and thereforewill make mistakes. Learning from those mistakes is a valuable lesson in leadership. When youcannot remember what to do in a certain situation, you always can fall back on this one simpleprinciple - follow the Golden Rule.Understanding Soft Skills If youre intelligent enough, its easy to learn the technical skills youll need to be
  18. 18. successful at work. But if youre looking to climb that corporate ladder, youre going to needsuperior soft skills too. Unfortunately, all too often we see people promoted to leadershippositions that lack the soft skills required to be successful.In this publication, were going to talk about the concept of soft skills. Well provide a definitionof the term, as well as presenting some examples. Well also talk about the difference betweensoft skills and hard skills. Finally, well explain how you can use soft skills to enrich yourresume.Soft Skills in the WorkplaceWhile technical expertise is always appreciated, and Additional Resourcessomething of value, moving up the ranks in theworkplace means going beyond being recognized as a Leadership Characteristicssubject matter expert, or SME. Soft skills are often what Leadership Qualitiesseparate individual contributors from managers and Leadership Traitsbusiness leaders. Leadership Skill Leadership Skills AssessmentDefinition of Soft Skills Developing Leadership Skills Understanding Soft SkillsSoft skills are best defined as the wide variety of businessskills that fall into one of the following three categories: Interactions with Coworkers Professionalism and / or Work Ethic Critical Thinking or Problem SolvingEach of these categories of skills can be applied to almost any position in nearly every company.Thats one of the reasons so many institutions of higher education offer students the opportunityto develop soft skills as part of their curriculum.In the sections that follow, were going to expand on this list of soft skills through both examplesas well as explanations.Interactions with CoworkersThis first category of soft skills includes the ability to interact effectively with coworkers andclients. Examples of this category of skills include: Networking - this is the building of strong relationships or alliances with others. Networking is important in building connections across an enterprise. If you do not know something yourself, its important to know who can help. Communication - the effective sharing of information with others - including oral, written, and even non-verbal communication. Teamwork / Collaboration - the ability to work successfully in a group setting, including assuming the role of a team player. This is someone that puts the goals of the team ahead of
  19. 19. their personal goals. Demonstrating Empathy - the capability to share ones feelings with others, as well as understanding the emotions of others.Professionalism and / or Work EthicThis second category of soft skills focuses on how a person conducts himself or herself at work.Examples of this category of skills include: Professionalism - includes dressing appropriately for the work setting, arriving on time, speaking in a respectful manner to coworkers, customers and clients. Integrity - acting in a truthful and honest manner. This skill is typically aligned with the values expressed by the company. Optimism - this person anticipates the best possible outcome, and provides positive feedback when someone is faced with adversity. Enthusiasm / Motivation - the skill required to remain devoted to, and supportive of, an idea, corporate goal or work assignment. To continue to remain engaged in the pursuit of a goal.Critical Thinking or Problem SolvingThis last category of soft skills deals with ones ability to think critically, and solve problems atwork. The ability to pull together data to solve a problem in the workplace is a widely-valuedtalent in a business setting.One of the keys to being an effective problem solver is developing the solution to the problem ina reasonable timeframe. It is also important to be able to explain how the solution to a problemwas solved in both a logical and systematic manner.Soft Skills versus Hard SkillsPerhaps the easiest way to differentiate between soft skills and hard skills can be described inthis manner: Hard skills are those that are easily observed and quantified (perhaps via a scientific test). Its also relatively easy to teach someone a hard skill in a formal classroom setting or using an on- the-job situation. Hard skills include abilities such as working with spreadsheets, operating machinery, speaking a foreign language, or using a personal computer. Soft skills are sometimes referred to as people skills. And based on the examples provided earlier, soft skills are not easy to quantify, and are sometimes described as intangible. That said, its often easy to identify a coworker that appears to possess strong soft skills - mostly due to what seems to be their natural ability to work effectively with others.Soft Skills on a ResumeBy now, it should be obvious why a company would value an employee with superior soft skillsin addition to the technical expertise theyre seeking. Individuals looking to move up or move
  20. 20. out of an organization need to highlight their soft skills on their resumes if they want to separatethemselves from the rest of the crowd.Functional and combination style resumes both contain a careers skills / knowledge sectionwhere a bulleted listing or table of the skills and knowledge appear. This section is placed nearthe beginning of the resume, so it only makes sense to take a great deal of time making sure itprojects the right image of the applicants talents.Resume Example - Soft SkillsThe following demonstrates how the skills section of a resume can highlight a job applicants softskills. This particular example lists hard skills on the left hand side of the table and soft skills onthe right: CAREER SKILLS / KNOWLEDGE Financial Planning and Analysis Problem Solving Accounting Application Design Critical Thinking Skills Operational Budgeting Training and Development Long-term Planning Interpersonal Skills Capital Budgeting Teamwork / Collaboration