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12 Critical Leadership Building Skills

Being a leader is tough work. Leaders are subject to other people’s bad days, problems, crisis and attitudes. It can be overwhelming and exhausting.

Effective leadership can be compared to a bridge. Each brick on that bridge is foundational to the structure. Successfully implementing one of the critical leadership building skills adds bricks to the Leadership bridge, reinforces it, strengthens it and will create longevity. This has positive impact to you as a leader, to the individuals you work with and results positively on your performance and ultimately your bottom line.

Here are the top 12 critical leadership building skills

Have a clear vision of yourself, others, your organization and the world.

Know who you are. Understand what’s important to you. Explore your purpose in work and in life. Contribute to your work, your family, friends, and co-workers. The more clear you are on these, the more focused and effective you will be as a leader.

Know, utilize and leverage your strengths, values and gifts.

We each know what we are amazing at and what we can do even better at. Know what your strength areas are and capitalize on those areas. Allow yourself to shine; it invites others to do the same. Once you understand your values, live by them. Allow your business decisions to be made based on what is important to you. When you make choices that go against your values you are less effective, even ineffective as a leader and team member.

Surround yourself with people who compliment you.

Once you know your strengths allow yourself to be surrounded by people who have complementary skills so that you can provide a strong package to your team members, customers and partners.

Be positive and future focused.

Staying in the past encourages others to do the same. It gets us stuck. Reference the past in learning, not in finger pointing or blame. Free yourself and your team members by taking a ‘learning’ attitude to any unsuccessful approaches, interactions and efforts.

Carry an Umbrella

A traditional umbrella protects us from the elements: rain, wind and even sun. In leadership an umbrella protects your team from irrelevant or negative information. It does however let the important elements through: information, clarification, insight, tool and contacts. As a leader, your responsibility is to hold that umbrella up firmly to protect your team from the communication that can have a negative effect on them, the team and ultimately the organization. This includes rumour, here say, speculation, inaccurate information. Bottom line: Clearly communicate everything that your team members need to effectively do their jobs. When you get relevant information that impacts your team members you communicate it to them.

Choose your perspective.

As a leader you can’t always change a situation, but you can always change how you feel about it. Your perspective sets a tone for success or challenge. It takes stress away and produces an ease with the person, interaction or situation.

Set goals and create action plans.

With vision in hand, set goals that help you and your team achieve success. Invite participation from team members. The more they are involved the greater sense of inclusion, team and individual success and fulfillment.

Continually improve communication skills.

Being a strong leader involves continually improving your communication skills with co-workers, team members, customers and partners. It means creating a moment by moment awareness of the impact of your verbal and non-verbal communication.

Create a strong sense of team.

Create an environment on your team that is energized, inviting, participative and positive. Allow the individuals to become a cohesive team; one unit moving in the direction of the overall vision. Invite the team to be part of the strategy, vision and the ‘how-to’s of getting there. Involve the team.

Be real and authentic.

Allow your team to see the real you. Acknowledge the realness of making mistakes, not knowing the answer and being uncertain in some situations. Always frame it as real, and a learning opportunity. Create authentic communication. Acknowledge, reward and celebrate successes… liberally! Making mistakes is part of being a leader. Acknowledging this and capturing the learning is part of being a good leader. Modelling this is part of being a great leader. Your team will follow your lead. If you demonstrate that it’s okay to be real, and to make mistakes it makes it okay for your team members to do the same.

Be in the moment.

Great leaders stay in the moment when interacting with others. The rest of the world slips away for that moment as the leader is fully engaged with his/her team member. It sends such a clear message that the person is important… very important in that moment. It is trust building.

Ask first, tell next.

An effective leader asks questions, lots of them. Did you get that? Lots of questions! Ask the questions first, then share what you would like to, i.e. ask first, tell next. This allows your partner in communication to share his/her thoughts, side of the story, relevant information, etc. before you step in with a solution, view, etc. It gives you the opportunity to practice your listening skills. An effective leader does more listening than speaking. There is always rich learning in asking first, telling next!

By following these 12 key leadership building skills you can have a dramatic impact on your team. Begin implementing these now. Choose one each day or week and focus on it. Imagine that you now see the world through the lens of these leadership skills. Monitor the changes over the next few weeks and you will see a more positive, effective and productive team.

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