What Are Leadership Skills: Distinct Qualities Of A Great Leader

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When considering highly sought-after skills in the workplace, leadership skills are sure to grace the list. Whether you are seeking a managerial role or an entry-level job, for that matter, employers always look out for individuals who have demonstrated a strong sense of leadership over time.

Great leaders are first good followers. They lead by example. This is to say that true leadership is not meant to be coercive but inspirational.

Furthermore, leadership skills are not only useful for the workplace; they are also useful for life. Leadership is much more than being in a position where you call the shots and sit back. To be considered a great leader, you need to have certain qualities and skills.

Lastly, while some believe leaders are born, others think leaders are made. Whatever the case may be, this article will show you what leadership skills are and why you need them. To learn more about what it takes to be a leader, kindly read along.

What Is Leadership?

There are a lot of definitions of leadership. Firstly, it is the ability of an individual to lead and influence other individuals. It is also defined as the process of guiding a group of people to achieve a particular goal or objective. In other words, it means influencing the behavior and characters of people to accomplish a task. 

Furthermore, leadership involves creating a vision, managing it, and pulling people together to achieve it. It is important to note that leadership is useless when there is no vision or objective to accomplish. Therefore, effective leadership entails leading people to achieve a goal or set of plans.

Leadership also involves making tough decisions that can positively or negatively impact the goals and objectives.

To sum it up, leadership includes two parties; the leader and the followers. There is no limit to the number of followers a leader can have. However, what is crucial to getting many followers is a leader’s ability to Inspire. Without that, people may find it difficult to follow such a leader unless they are compelled to.

Who is a Leader?

A leader is someone that leads a group of individuals. He is someone others look up to and likely wish to model. He leads and influences people by his words, actions, and decisions to accomplish a specific task.

There are lots of misconceptions about who a leader is. For instance, people believe that leaders occupy a political, organizational, or religious position. By default, this sounds true given the power ascribed to such positions.

However, leadership is not only by appointment; it is the ability to drive your followers to achieve a goal. This means that you do not have to occupy a position of authority to lead.

A leader is also different from a manager. Leaders are people-oriented, while managers are work-oriented. That said, leaders stand out because they possess specific skills and qualities to drive results.

Types of Leaders

We are all unique individuals with various orientations and backgrounds, which makes our personality. Therefore, we react differently to leadership styles.

You may discover that some are drawn to a particular leader more than others. This is because of the kind of leadership used by such leaders. Types of leaders include;

1. Authoritarian Leader

These sets of leaders are autocratic. They have total power and control over their followers and take absolute control over decision-making. There is rarely any room for dialogue and negotiation with team members and followers.

This leadership style is flawed because it does not promote communication and creativity among team members. However, an autocratic leader can be helpful for short-term projects, especially when they are the most knowledgeable or most experienced.

Advantages of Authoritative Leadership

  • Less time spent on making critical decisions.
  • Short-term goals are achieved quickly.
  • Roles are clearly defined among team members.

Disadvantages of Authoritarian Leadership

  • No room for creativity.
  • Poor team spirit or morale.
  • There is a weak relationship between leaders and followers.

2. Charismatic Leader

These leaders can influence and inspire their followers through words or actions. They can communicate their goals effectively and drive people to work towards them. Many charismatic leaders have a large set of followers because of the level of influence they exert. They are also known to be visionaries and big thinkers.

Religious leaders, celebrities, and media personalities can function as charismatic leaders. They can command a large population and are great communicators. In an organizational setting, a charismatic leader can be influential in achieving organizational goals because the team members look up to such a leader.

Advantages of Charismatic Leadership

  • They appeal to the emotions of their followers.
  • Unlike authoritative leadership, there is room for innovation.
  • It brings people together to achieve a common goal.

Disadvantages of Charismatic Leadership

  • Followers depend on the leaders a lot.
  • Charismatic leaders hinder their followers from having counter opinions.
  • Leaders can deceive followers.

3. Democratic leader

A democratic leader is also known to be a participative leader. This kind of leadership encourages participation among all members in the decision-making process. There is equality among all the team players, which helps the organization develop better ideas to accomplish the set goals.

Advantages of Democratic Leadership

  • It encourages fairness and all-inclusiveness. No one is left out in the decision-making process.
  • It allows followers to be creative so they can contribute better.
  • Both leaders and followers will experience better relationships.

Disadvantages of Democratic Leadership

  • It could be bad for a short-term project when decisions take too long to be made.
  • Communication may be poor because there is no defined role among team members.

4. Transactional Leader

A transactional leader-follower relationship is well defined mainly in the organizational setting. When the follower agrees to do a particular task, there is an incentive to encourage the follower. However, if a follower defaults, the leader can sanction the follower for not completing their tasks.

Transactional leaders cherish order in the organization they lead, and this mode of leadership works with specific rules and regulations. Military and paramilitary groups are examples of places where transactional leadership takes place.

Advantages of Transactional Leadership

  • Roles are well defined.
  • Followers are inspired to achieve their tasks because of the rewards.
  • There is no confusion among followers because goals are set for each individual.

Disadvantages of Transactional Leadership

  • Creativity is challenging because it relies on strict rules and regulations.
  • This type of leadership does not encourage followers to be leaders.
  • Followers are more concerned about the punishments than the rewards.

Qualities Of A Leader

1. Communication

A good leader must be able to communicate with their followers. Communication is the ability to pass information to another party, and it is only complete when there is feedback. Therefore, leaders must have good communication skills, a combination of speaking and listening skills.

In addition to being a good orator, a leader must possess listening skills to encourage building ideas in line with the set objectives. When the leader cannot communicate effectively, goals and visions cannot be passed to members. When a leader is a good communicator, it will be easy to inspire followers. Without proper communication, it is near impossible to lead.

SEE: What are Transferable Skills

2. Visionary and Problem Solving Skills

To make an excellent leader, you should be a person of vision. Leadership involves being in front or ahead of any given situation. People are drawn and inspired by you because of your dream.

In addition, great leaders seek solutions to problems. Instead of getting discouraged because of a challenge, they come up with ways to tackle them and at the same time strengthen their team or followers.

SEE: What Are Problem Solving Skills

3. Teachable

A leader must be open to learning new things. There is no end to knowledge, so all leaders must seek more information to improve their teams. It is not enough to rely on the skills and strengths of your team. You must learn to be teachable and open-minded to other people’s ideas.

In addition, good leaders are book lovers. They build relationships with like-minded visionaries who want to advance their skills. Those who hardly improve in knowledge cannot be great leaders, which might affect the development of your followers.

4. Integrity

Integrity is a necessary quality a leader must possess to succeed. When a leader has integrity, the organization’s objectives are safe and capable hands.

Organizations hold their ethics and values in high esteem, as such, leaders with integrity are crucial to them. Also, integrity among leaders promotes fairness and transparency in the group being led. This brings out the best in teams and fosters unity.

5. Self-Awareness

Leaders must be aware of themselves. You must be honest about who you are and how others see you. Furthermore, you should identify your strengths and weaknesses, so as to build on your strengths and work on your weaknesses.

Being self-aware makes you an effective leader when dealing with challenges. In other words, when you are aware of your limitations, you can plan for the worst and still be optimistic. Lastly, through self-awareness, you become open to constructive criticisms.

6. Empathy and Respect

Empathy is the ability to share in someone’s pains and challenges. In other words, it means showing compassion. A good leader should possess the quality of showing empathy to their followers. It is a clear indication that such a leader is emotionally intelligent.

A leader must also treat his subordinates with the utmost respect. Respecting people will create a better atmosphere in the organization and ease communication. When you treat followers with respect, they will be willing to do the impossible for you.

Being compassionate to the people under your leadership generally improves members’ participation and boosts productivity. Furthermore, people will see you as an effective leader.

SEE: Leadership Skills That Will Make You A Great Leader

Difference Between Leadership And Management

Leadership and management are intertwined, and many people argue that they are the same. However, that is not the case. The differences between leadership skills and management skills are;

  • Leadership focuses on the long-term visions and achievement of the organization. On the other hand, management does not look at the big picture. They are focused on short-term goals.
  • Leadership involves creativity and innovation. Leaders are not restricted to the status quo and are willing to do anything to expand. Management is very comfortable with the status quo, especially when not giving wrong results. There is little or no room for growth because it operates on a rigid system.
  • Leaders are always interested in their followers or team. They ensure that team members are carried along to all grow together. Managers are less interested in their team members but are often interested in getting the process right through the team.
  • Leaders ensure their team is coached when a target is met while managers supervise their team.
  • Leaders are risk-takers, but managers are always looking to minimize the risks.

Why Leadership Skills Are Important

It is necessary to point out why you should possess leadership skills because it will benefit your immediate environment and society at large.

  • Leadership skills enhances productivity in your team and the organization.
  • Relationships between leaders and followers improves, and followers feel connected by sharing the same vision.
  • Communication among team leaders and members becomes better.
  • People are more motivated to work with leaders who have great leadership skills.
  • Leadership skills makes leaders more successful.

FAQs

Are leaders born?

Yes, some individuals are born or natural leaders. They do not necessarily need to hold any position of influence to lead. People are always drawn to them because of their leadership qualities.

Can a manager become a leader?

Yes, a manager can be a leader when such an individual builds their skills in leadership.

How can you build leadership skills?

You can build leadership skills by taking leadership classes and training. Also, you should consciously take up tasks involving leadership.

Summary

Followers are a reflection of the leader they follow. But the world is the way it is today because most leaders lack great leadership skills.

From being empathetic to being a person of great vision and integrity to being teachable, to having the ability to communicate effectively, leadership skills are vital in today’s world, and everyone should possess them. Also, leadership should be inspirational and not coercive.

Perhaps, you wish to know more about relevant skills you should possess, the post on relevant soft skills required by organizations would be of help.  

I hope this article makes you a better leader.

Thank you for reading.