"If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader." -John Quincy Adams
Elon Musk. Bill Gates. Jeff Bezos. When you think of these luminaries, haven’t they all carved a mark for themselves in the global business arena? You might agree that these visionaries are astute businessmen, but is that all it takes to create a billion-dollar empire?
If you agree, then you may want to think again. Don’t we often use adjectives such as ‘dynamic’, ‘entrepreneurial’ or ‘frontrunners’ to describe top leaders or executives?
Whilst their incredible business acumen may have brought them success, there are several other competencies or leadership skills that an executive need to display to foster commitment and loyalty amongst their employees and clients. Surely, this is no easy task, and one needs to be aware of this reality.
After all, the quote from the classic movie, Spiderman holds true- “With great power comes great responsibility.”
In today’s times, we all want to reach the higher echelons of the corporate workforce. While we may encounter different types of leaders during our professional tenure, it is the transformational or coaching type of leaders who leave a lasting impact. But why so, you may ask?
Read on to understand the key leadership skills that are paramount to success in the present corporate world.
DEVELOPING EFFECTIVE LEADERSHIP SKILLS
Leadership roles exist all around us. From your class or head prefects in school to your reporting superiors at your job or the supreme head of the country, proficient leaders are required in various circumstances.
To define them in simple terms, a leader is a ‘person who leads or commands a group, organization or a country’.
Different leadership styles are often viewed as appropriate for diverse people and circumstances, and the best leaders maintain a balance between the varied styles. Daniel Goleman in fact provided a theory of leadership styles which are widely used even today.
Based on the pioneering work done on emotional intelligence, Goleman believed that leaders should be able to deal with the changing organizational environment, and that emotions of the employees played an important role.
His six leadership styles are as follows:
1. The Authoritative or the Visionary Leader: Such leaders practice effective leadership skills foster inspiration and motivate their employees to work towards a common goal.
Often exuding a ‘come with me’ mindset, they set goals for the end result, but enable their team members to experiment, innovate and take calculated risks. A befitting example of such a quintessential visionary leader is Steve Jobs.
2. The Coaching Leadership: Empathetic and encouraging in their approach, such leaders combine their subordinates’ personal and company’s goals. By having genuine dialogues with their employees about their long-term career aspirations, they stimulate rapport and trust among their team members, thereby promoting accountability.
Furthermore, they help them realize their strengths and weaknesses, and provide scope for further development. Perhaps, the best example of such types of leadership skills are probably displayed by your college football coach.
3. The Affiliative Leader: The hallmark of this leadership style is to emphasize on the employees’ emotional needs and sense of belonging, rather than achieving goals. Such personal leadership skills help to connect people, maintain harmony and inclusivity amongst teams and resolve conflicts.
Time and again, Sheryl Sandberg who is the chief operating officer of Facebook has exemplified this managerial style.
4. The Democratic Leader: Mainly focusing on collaboration, such leaders actively seek input and include their teammates in problem-solving or decision-making exercises. Google, since its inception has remained highly democratic in its working style, allowing all employees to participate in its innovative activities.
5. The Coercive Leader: Seeking immediate compliance, if this style were to be described in a single phrase, it would be emulated as “do what I tell you.” Excessively controlling, they issue orders and do not appreciate being questioned. This type of leadership works best for crisis management.
International chef and restaurateur and reality show judge, Gordon Ramsay often exudes such leadership.
6. The Pacesetting Leader: With an emphasis on performing and achieving goals, such leaders expect nothing short of excellence from their team members. Demanding increased motivation, this style doesn’t coddle poor performers.
A classic case showing such leadership skills examples of the same would be IBM’s first woman president and CEO, Virginia (Ginni) Rometty, who’s known to have led the company through its most significant transformation and reinvention.
This framework is very useful in understanding diverse facets of leading a team, but does sticking to one style in all situations prove to be effective? Not really! Different leadership styles adhere to different situations and obstacles. For instance, Ross is a CEO of a leading company. When faced with redefining the goals and focus areas of the company’s operations, he may benefit from combining certain styles such as democratic, coaching, or visionary methods.
On the other hand, when it’s time to alleviate a major loss or crisis, a coercive and pacesetting style may be more effective. Irrespective of these underlying styles, a great leader proves his or her efficiency by displaying certain competencies, qualities and top leadership skills that will lead them to success.
WHAT ARE LEADERSHIP COMPETENCIES?
If you’re someone who is due for a promotion or feel ready to take on leadership roles, do you often give thought to the kind of leader that you’d want to be? Most of us may want to achieve profitable results, while also winning the confidence and trust of our team-mates, since a business cannot work without meaningful relationships.
To flourish in this role, it is very important to develop a combined set of skills, knowledge and abilities that posit effective leadership in an Organisation. These qualities are known as leadership competencies.
Yes, while it’s important to show high potential to take on these roles, as individuals, there are several programmes to help you hone your skills maximally. In fact, over the years several leadership competencies models have been developed, which mainly focus on setting and achieving goals, relationship building and strategic and decision-making skills.
Since organizations are globally undergoing a transformation, it is necessary to adapt, adopt and reposition for the businesses to remain relevant. Consequently, certain important leadership competencies can help you transition easily. Let’s explore it further.
TOP 10 LEADERSHIP COMPETENCIES THAT WILL DRIVE YOU AS A LEADER TO SUCCESS
While there may not be a clear-cut definition to understand the key leadership competencies, there are several abilities and skills that can help you thrive in your leadership role. From clearly communicating your vision to empowering your employees to their personal and professional growth while ensuring that the company’s objectives are met, as a leader too, you need to be extremely self-aware, and accepting of change. Recruiters too, will gauge your creative, adaptive, networking and fostering capabilities for an executive role.
Top 10 Key Leadership Competencies:
3. Creativity and Innovation
6. Emotional Intelligence
9. Delegation and Empowerment
10. Decision making capabilities
The following top ten key leadership competencies serve as a roadmap of the essential skills one needs to have as an impactful leader.
As a leader, you cannot run any business successfully if you lack integrity. Through your inspiring and motivating behaviour, it is important to stand and work towards a common vision without compromising or making false promises. Honesty and ethical practices will further elucidate strong relationships and trustworthiness in your dealings.
Employees too respect superiors who stick to their word, abide by their core values which are communicated clearly, led by example, and provide genuine feedback. Qualities such as apologizing for mistakes, being transparent and highlighting the achievements of their employees, extending benefit of the doubt while navigating ambiguity and being appreciative of others truly signify the makings of a great leader, thereby exemplifying effective leadership skills.
In fact, Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world”.
Think of some of the greatest leaders of the world- Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela. Not only did they possess a great vision to lead people into a new era, a more hopeful dawn, but they were naturally gifted with the ability to inspire people. As a leader, all eyes will constantly be on you. Your employees look up to you, and setting a good example, will further motivate them to perform better.
For instance, in times of crises, they will depend upon you for support to get through it. If you handle it well, they will follow you. According to studies, positivity is said to be highly associated with inspiring behaviours, which constitutes one of the most important leadership competencies.
3. Creativity and Innovation:
Steve Jobs, the great visionary, rightly quoted in one of his interviews, “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” Following this principle, Apple Inc. successfully pushed their boundaries, and thought out of the box, by innovating new products and introducing novel, user-friendly characteristics. Probably seen as an underrated quality, creativity has repeatedly proved to be a driving and competitive force for executives, making them and their team’s standout victoriously.
Such far-sighted visionaries work hard and persevere through participative management to take calculated risks and ground-breaking unconventional decisions. In fact, it forms an integral component of any leadership competencies assessment tools used today.
4. Self-Confidence: While this innate quality is regarded as one of the most important leadership competencies, it is important to reiterate about the same. True leaders know their strengths and competencies, as well as their weaknesses and shortcomings. Filled with a high sense of self-esteem, they take on challenges head on, and do not feel ashamed in working on their limitations.
As a leader, you need to believe that you can make a difference by believing in your abilities completely. This will help you take risks, accomplish goals, and soar high above. Through a positive attitude and increased self-confidence, great leaders take charge in times of crisis or unforeseen circumstances and take decisions to solve problems and conflicts, thereby proving to be stimulating leadership skills examples for others.
5. Focus: As an aspiring or a thriving leader, your main objective is to ensure that you set a goal that is crucial in leading the organization to success, whilst even proving to be beneficial to the employees. The secret to this formula is collaboration. As a leader, you must know the strengths and weaknesses of all your team members and allow scope to grow through peer-mentor relationships, 360-degree feedback, team projects and learning opportunities.
In fact, as a superior, you too, must have a strong learning orientation, viewing it as a continuous, life-long process. Rather, one of the most important leadership competencies involves creating an environment wherein people can share and learn from other’s experiences, knowledge, and ideas.
6. Emotional Intelligence: The most eminent leaders are those who connect with others emotionally. Leaders high on emotional intelligence know how to manage emotions effectively, are more aware of themselves and others, communicate clearly, show control, and possess seamless conflict resolution skills.
Emotionally intelligent leaders are less likely to make hasty decisions and prevent negative emotions from influencing their objectives. In fact, such core leader competencies serve as critical factors in defining the efficacy of the different types of leadership skills.
7. Empathy: As an extension of emotional intelligence, a leader should be able to understand other’s needs and wants. Empathetic leaders are motivating, increasingly perceptive and actively understand how their employees are thinking and feeling, thereby being more coherent. This does not mean that you need to agree with others’ views, but to appreciate and be willing to engage in active listening and building meaningful relationships, to put yourself in someone else’s shoes.
8. Accountability: As a leader you must stand by and guide your employees when they make mistakes, and fully appreciate them when they perform exceedingly well. Just like a parent, you need to motivate and direct them to evolve and grow in their careers. Holding them accountable for their actions will arise in them a sense of responsibility, commitment, and loyalty towards the company.
Moreover, as a leader, it is important to be resilient, for ups and downs are inevitable. In such times, employees will look up to those leaders who focus on finding solutions. Therefore, it is always advisable to effectively hone and develop these key leadership competencies that will help you perform better.
9. Delegation and Empowerment: As an individual, you cannot be everywhere. Following the principles of division of labour, a leader must focus on the key responsibilities, and provide opportunities to their subordinates to learn and grow. By empowering and delegating tasks, a leader helps to develop trust and increased productivity amongst their followers. They equip them with all the resources and support they need to arouse a sense of accountability in them.
10. Decision making capabilities: One of the many imperative leadership competencies to possess is to clearly communicate your goals and visions to your employees. Apart from having a futuristic vision, it is important to take a well-thought out decision at the right time, which will have a long-lasting impact. Ideally, a leader should collaborate with key stakeholders and even their team members to reach the best possible solution.
As individuals who want to progress in the corporate world, one may have a high potential to be a successful leader, but may require developing some of their leadership competencies, popularly known as soft skills training. If you believe that this applies to you as a future leader, then it is advisable to get help from an executive coach who will prepare you for the various challenges and pressures that you may encounter in this glorious new role.
HOW DOES EXECUTIVE COACHING HELP TO HONE YOUR LEADERSHIP COMPETENCIES?
As a leader, how would you rate your leadership abilities? Do you feel that there are some areas that you may need to work upon?
While you may be identified as a high-potential candidate in your organization, or are just promoted to an executive role, don’t you need time to transition into your new responsibilities and get a grip of the organizational workings?
If you relate with any of these situations, then do not worry. These are common scenarios, and with time, you will settle in.
An effective solution to this is to hire an executive coach or a qualified professional who partners with leaders or senior executives of the company to help them achieve self-awareness and shape them into strategic thinkers. Working as collaborators, they mould, handhold and train their clients to solve their own problems effectively.
With an aim to equip you to be transformational leaders, certified executive coaches help you to develop several key leadership skills that will steadfast your journey to success. While every coach has a different process, they tend to customize it in accordance with your requirements by jointly formulating goals.
Working to consolidate your top leadership skills such as relationship building, strategic thinking, emotional competence and decision-making, they help you to gain perspective on how others may view your actions and decisions while navigating an organization’s growth trajectory. Due to its successful results, companies are soon realizing the importance of having productive and driven employees.
Several multinationals and Fortune 500 companies are increasingly hiring coaches to help them reach their goals collectively, thereby incorporating the workings of various successful leadership competencies models.
Executive coaching helps to develop your core leadership skills in manifold ways:
1. Executive coaches customize their process by jointly sitting with you and deciding upon the leadership areas you want to work upon in accordance with the company culture and your superiors’ evaluation of your leadership competencies.
2. By using several resources and leadership competencies assessment tools, the executive coach and the client jointly decide on the goals that are to be accomplished. For instance, you may need help delegating tasks, while your colleague may need to improve his strategy skills.
3. Executive coaches generally tend to dive deep, and go for an all-rounded 360* process, which aims to make them more self-aware and solidify areas which need to be worked upon.
4. Executive coaches are generally free of any biases and can objectively see the true potential among the employees of an organisation. By the means of questions, they may also train the client to move past their biases by effectively retaining top talent. Studies have shown that a large number of executives resigned in the past years due to varied reasons.
In such cases, it is important to have other potential candidates who can fill up senior managerial roles to ensure smooth functioning. Moreover, it also provides equal opportunities for growth to the deserving employees.
5. Executive coaches understand that personal leadership skills are related to the managerial personalities. Therefore, they help to assess and define this foundation, and enable them to become the best versions of themselves through their continuous feedback appraisal and collaborative learning paradigms.
6. With a platform to experiment and make mistakes, as a leader, one will feel more responsible and committed to efficiently achieve the organizational goals. Executive coaches also teach leaders to jointly form attainable goals with their team members through participative management.
7. You may have a great vision for your company, but if you cannot communicate it clearly, will it reap benefits? Executive coaches will help you develop important leadership competencies such as communication, influence, presence, identifying your working and leadership styles, team building and strategy activation through constant feedback. Such reflection will translate into desirable results through guidance.
8. Moreover, over a period of time, executive coaches act as sounding boards and confidantes, through which their clients completely trust them to guide and navigate them towards being great leaders.
Thus, evidently, executive coaches help to take the company to newer heights by nurturing the leaders of tomorrow by teaching them to effectively identify and develop and use their key leadership competencies. Fostering and motivating in nature, they help to consolidate a common purpose to be accomplished.
In conclusion, if this article has piqued your interest, or you wish to seek assistance for the same, then let us introduce you to Coach Dr. Paras- the Founder of Matrrix. With over 16+ years of experience, ICF- MCC and EMCC-MP Certified Coach Dr. Paras is a professional coach, leadership consultant, trainer, mentor, and mental health professional with several certifications to his credit. Through his Executive Coaching programmes, he focuses on building and shaping individuals into exceptional leaders of tomorrow. If you wish to get in touch or have more questions about the process, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
1. How to develop leadership competencies?
Leadership competencies refer to the combination of necessary skills, knowledge and attitudes that help executives to successfully integrate their interpersonal, operational and personal realms. To develop their top 10 key leadership competencies, they must have an attitude of continuously learning and growing through various resources and tools such as courses or executive coaching programmes.
Executive coaches are qualified professionals who partner with leaders or senior executives to help them achieve self-awareness, identify the core leadership skills that need to be worked upon, and coach their clients in these jointly decided areas to help them succeed in their leadership roles.
2. How to develop leadership skills?
Leadership skills refer to the strengths and abilities demonstrated by leaders whilst effectively leading a team. For that, one needs to determine their personal leadership skills and style, assess themselves and their team’s strengths and weaknesses periodically, and sharpen their interpersonal, social, cognitive, and strategic skills.
Developing conflict resolution abilities, emotional intelligence and empathy, relationship building and practicing decision-making are some of the most important leadership skills that are required to flourish and inspire in this role.
Again, collaborating with an experienced, ICF certified executive coach can help you actively improve upon these core leader competencies, enabling you to transition into this role gradually.