Here is my list of leadership qualities, but before I go over this list, I want you to think about each item I talked about and rate yourself on each item, say 1 for not very much and 2 for medium and 3 for pretty good. It’s just an informal rating, but I’d like to have you think about where you sit in these different qualities. For those items you rate low, that only means you have an area maybe to think about and improve upon.
Okay, first on the list. Embrace and champion change that leaders drive change and are change agents. Do you like change? Change is typically not a natural attribute of most people, but is of leaders. Earned credibility across an organization. In order for you and your team to be successful, work hard to earn credibility. That is, you’re honest, have integrity, always follow through with what you say and do. This will enable your team to be more productive in your organization and enable broader career opportunities within your company as well. Ability to build trust. We have already devoted a couple of slides on trust, so you’ll already know how critical it is as a leadership quality. Strong negotiation skills. Most business interactions entail discussions and arriving at a consensus. Therefore, leaders must have the ability to communicate clearly and effectively to others during the discussions and negotiations. Case in point, Eisenhower on my leading quote.
Strategic planning skills. This is important since you will need to set a direction for your team, plan it, and execute it. People want to know, where are we going and how are we going to get there? Project and team management skills. Yes, leadership is paramount and essential, but you will still need basic and practical project and team management skills. I am devoting several slides to this topic later in this post. Strong communication and marketing skills. Certainly verbal and written skills are essential and I have devoted the next two posts to those skills and what I mean by marketing is that you will need to ensure that management knows about your team, what it can do, its successes, and how your team’s outcome has supported the business. This will result in your team receiving better projects to work on, maybe more resources, and certainly better career opportunities. Strong interpersonal skills.
You want your team to feel that they can approach you, talk to you and share important information with you. Okay, so how did you do? What is your score? Now the score itself is not important, but instead, for any items you gave yourself a 1 on, or even maybe a 2, please take a moment, write down your personal plan to improve in those areas. Alright, lastly, a key skill that I think can be overlooked but is very important is inclusion. That is the ability you have to make others feel included. In our busy world of backlogs and time crunches, we may tend to go to our go-to person or persons rather than approach our business challenges with a philosophy and foundation of inclusiveness.
This is important, so I have devoted the next slide to the topic of inclusiveness that every leader needs to perform. A key leadership quality is inclusiveness. That is the ability to make people feel included, part of the team, a contributor. Remember when you were the new kid in school and realized you weren’t in the in-crowd, or conversely, you noticed the new kid who wasn’t in your in-crowd? There is nothing worse than being ignored, unappreciated, or not listened to. Now let’s fast forward from the schoolyard to the work environment. It is not just about letting people talk as you go around the room in a meeting, for example. Inclusion is about being open to perspectives different from your own and realizing that everyone’s voice is important, and making everyone feel their voice is important. The minute someone does not feel included, they lose motivation and interest. In other words, they are not productive or happy. This is not good as a leader.
You can set a good example by valuing each individual’s opinions and making everyone feel comfortable sharing their points of view. Now again, you do not have to agree with your view or incorporate every opinion into a solution, but you must listen, thank them, and appreciate their inputs. As a leader, you will have to make hard choices and decisions while at the same time making people feel that their ideas are appreciated and they feel included. Okay, that’s a tough act. Here’s a tip. Believing that certain people are good at only certain things will keep you from fully leveraging your team’s intellectual capital. Okay, note to self. When you feel included, you feel connected and motivated. That tackles two of our three main tenets we talked about before. Feeling connected and motivated. And I suggest to you, if you feel connected and motivated, you will likely be inspired to take action more easily and productively.