Whether a person is a designated manager or on the line to become one, all good managers and workplace leaders need several critical soft skills to promote leadership qualities. These help them deal positively with employees and team members.
Qualities of an Effective Leader
Effective managers can communicate well with people up and down the business hierarchy. They should be able to motivate their team, handle and pass on responsibilities down the line, listen to all types of feedback, and have the consistency to resolve problems in an ever-changing work environment.
Employers look for these qualities in the people they hire for management roles. Therefore, strong leadership skills are valuable for all job applicants and employees. This means that whether you are in an entry-level position and looking to climb up the career ladder or seeking a promotion, your leadership skills will be some of your most valuable assets.
Top Leadership Skills
Following are the top leadership skills that make a strong workplace leader and how they can be encouraged in employees.
Leaders at any business level need to be able to explain what is required to employees and their superiors. This could range from organizational goals to specific tasks. In addition, leaders have to master all forms of communication. This means that they should be comfortable with one-on-one meetings, briefings, and full-staff conversations. This means being comfortable speaking publicly in front of the business and industry leaders and secondary communication in the form of phone, email, video, chat, and social media.
Leaders usually build up a smooth flow of communication between their staff or team members and themselves. They do this by adopting an open-door policy or just maintaining regular conversations with workers. This includes casual small talk to build up trust with their team members.
Bear in mind, though, that a major part of communication is about listening. Leaders should be good listeners and make themselves available for employees to discuss their issues and concerns. Other communication skills involve active listening, business storytelling, routine correspondence, explaining, expression, and nonverbal communication.
All of these can be mastered with help and conscious practice. In addition, many of these skills can be learned through the use of many soft skill programs available on the web.
Leaders have to motivate their workers to go the extra mile for their workplaces. Unfortunately, at present, just paying a fair salary to employees is not enough to inspire sufficient effort, although it remains important.
There are many ways to motivate a team. For example, you can build the employees’ self-esteem through recognition and rewards or by giving them new areas of responsibility to increase their engagement with the company.
Leaders need to learn what motivators are best suitable for individual employees or team members to increase productivity and passion.
Leaders who take on too many tasks alone will struggle to get anything done. Such leaders usually feel that delegating tasks is a sign of incompetence. However, learning to delegate is a sign of strength.
As managers, you need to assess the skills of each of your team members and give them based on their skill set. You are then able to give time to other managerial tasks by delegating tasks to staff members.
Having a positive approach to everything goes a long way in any situation. Being energized and motivated in all situations helps to create a happy and healthy work environment. Being able to see the positives in a negative situation allows for better learning and productivity.
Simple things s like asking teammates about their weekend, or vacation plans allow people to develop a positive environment in the office and help raise morale among staff members. Once employees feel they are in a positive environment, they will enjoy working and want to be at work.
Some key qualities that help make for a positive atmosphere in the workplace are being caring, managing conflicts, developing rapport, and being diplomatic and empathetic.
Employees should be comfortable coming to their manager or leader with questions and concerns. Managers need to show their integrity, as, like everyone else, employees will only trust leaders they respect.
By being open and honest, managers encourage the same honesty in their employees. Some skills and qualities that will help convey trustworthiness are
- The ability to apologize
- Being accountable
- Having strong business ethics
- Maintaining confidentiality- no gossiping!
- Maintaining consistent behaviour towards team members, do not play favourites
- Being respectful
- Stand up for what is right
As leaders, we are often in situations that do not have a clear solution or answer. Although this means that we have to make a number of decisions that do not have a clear outcome, the ability to think outside the box is essential. Many employees are impressed and inspired by a leader who doesn’t always choose the safe, conventional path.
Effective managers are constantly on the lookout for opportunities to deliver constructive information to team members about their work. It is important to remember that there is a fine line between giving employees advice and assistance and micromanaging.
If you teach employees how to do their work better and make their own decisions, you will be more confident when delegating tasks.
Some qualities needed for giving clear feedback are being open to receiving feedback yourself, building confidence in employees, clearly laying out expectations, following up on tasks, and listening to employees’ responses.
Be available for mentoring and make sure that you provide specific advice.
A leader is answerable for both the successes and failures of their team. Therefore, you need to be able to accept blame when something goes wrong or the unexpected happens.
Employees who see their leader pointing fingers and blaming others will lose respect. Instead, accept mistakes and shortcomings and come up with clear solutions for the future. Some skills and qualities that help leaders convey their responsibility are being able to acknowledge mistakes and being open to customer feedback.
Learning from past mistakes and listing to feedback from staff and managers. Addressing frequent problems and being transparent about shortcomings.
As managers and leaders, people must follow through with something they agree to do. People should be willing to put in the extra effort needed to complete a task. People around you will see this commitment and follow your example.
Similarly, you should always follow through if you promise your staff a reward, such as an office party. A leader cannot expect employees to commit to their jobs and tasks if they cannot do the same.
Some workplace commitment skills include applying feedback effectively, showing commitment to company goals, focusing on professional development, keeping promises, showing professionalism in all situations, and being a team player.
Every workplace is dynamic, with mishaps and last-minute changes constantly occurring. Therefore, leaders have to be flexible, accepting any changes coming their way. Likewise, employees will learn from your ability to accept and creatively handle changes to avoid problem escalation.
Similarly, leaders should be open to staff suggestions and feedback. For example, if your staff is dissatisfied with some elements of the office environment, listen to their views and be open to making changes that can improve the situation.
Skills related to flexibility include the ability to learn new skills and to respond to new problems or issues. This involves adaptability and improvising.
Sadia Zaheer holds a Masters in Business Administration from IBA, Karachi. After working in several financial institutions in Client Management, Corporate Lending, Islamic Banking and Product Management she jumped careers to pursue a career in writing.
She is a Finance, Business and HR Development writer with four years of experience. She reads a lot and takes care of her multiple cats to remain calm.