Top 10 Leadership Skills

Leadership Skills Employers Look For

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Leadership soft skills include motivation, delegation and communication. Getty Images / Buero Monaco

Whether one is an office manager or a project leader, all good leaders require a number of soft skills to help them positively interact with employees or team members. Employers seek these skills in the candidates they hire for leadership roles.

Here are the top 10 skills that make a strong leader in the workplace.

Top 10 Leadership Soft Skills

1. Communication
As a leader, you need to be able to clearly and succinctly explain to your employees everything from organizational goals to specific tasks.

Leaders must master all forms of communication, including one-on-one, departmental, and full-staff conversations, as well as communication via the phone, email, and social media.

A large part of communication involves listening. Therefore, leaders should establish a steady flow of communication between themselves and their staff or team members, either through an open-door policy or regular conversations with workers. Leaders should make themselves regularly available to discuss issues and concerns with employees.

2. Motivation
Leaders need to inspire their workers to go the extra mile for their organization; just paying a fair salary to employees is typically not enough inspiration (although it is important too). There are a number of ways to motivate your workers: you may build employee self-esteem through recognition and rewards, or by giving employees new responsibilities to increase their investment in the company.

You must learn what motivators work best for your employees or team members to encourage productivity and passion.

3. Delegating
Leaders who try to take on too many tasks by themselves will struggle to get anything done. These leaders often fear that delegating tasks is a sign of weakness, when in fact it is a sign of a strong leader.

Therefore, you need to identify the skills of each of your employees, and assign duties to each employee based on his or her skill set. By delegating tasks to staff members, you can focus on other important tasks.

4. Positivity
A positive attitude can go a long way in an office. You should be able to laugh at yourself when something doesn't go quite as planned; this helps create a happy and healthy work environment, even during busy, stressful periods. Simple acts like asking employees about their vacation plans will develop a positive atmosphere in the office, and raise morale among staff members. If employees feel that they work in a positive environment, they will be more likely to want to be at work, and will therefore be more willing to put in the long hours when needed.

5. Trustworthiness
Employees need to be able to feel comfortable coming to their manager or leader with questions and concerns. It is important for you to demonstrate your integrity - employees will only trust leaders they respect. By being open and honest, you will encourage the same sort of honesty in your employees.

6. Creativity
As a leader, you have to make a number of decisions that do not have a clear answer; you therefore need to be able to think outside of the box.

Learning to try nontraditional solutions, or approaching problems in nontraditional ways, will help you to solve an otherwise unsolvable problem. Most employees will also be impressed and inspired by a leader who doesn't always choose the safe, conventional path. 

7. Feedback
Leaders should constantly look for opportunities to deliver useful information to team members about their performance. However, there is a fine line between offering employees advice and assistance, and micromanaging. By teaching employees how to improve their work and make their own decisions, you will feel more confident delegating tasks to your staff.

8. Responsibility
A leader is responsible for both the successes and failures of his or her team. Therefore, you need to be willing to accept blame when something does not go correctly. If your employees see their leader pointing fingers and blaming others, they will lose respect for you. Accept mistakes and failures, and then devise clear solutions for improvement.

9. Commitment
It is important for leaders to follow through with what they agree to do. You should be willing to put in the extra hours to complete an assignment; employees will see this commitment and follow your example. Similarly, when you promise your staff a reward, such as an office party, you should always follow through. A leader cannot expect employees to commit to their job and their tasks if he or she cannot do the same.

10. Flexibility
Mishaps and last-minute changes always occur at work. Leaders need to be flexible, accepting whatever changes come their way. Employees will appreciate your ability to accept changes in stride and creatively problem-solve.

Similarly, leaders must be open to suggestions and feedback. If your staff is dissatisfied with an aspect of the office environment, listen to their concern and be open to making necessary changes. Employees will appreciate a leader's ability to accept appropriate feedback.

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