Good leadership is an integral part of every industry. While the nature of the work may change depending on the field, strong leaders share several important competencies. Learning about leadership skills and attributes can help you evaluate and improve your abilities so that you can inspire employees and successfully achieve business goals.
In this article, we describe leadership competencies, list eight key leadership competencies and describe some steps you can take to improve your performance in these crucial areas.
What are leadership competencies?
Leadership competencies are skills and attributes that you can possess that make you a good leader. Your competency in — or ability to show — these skills may increase the trust and commitment that your team has in you. Effective leaders inspire, encourage and facilitate to improve the productivity of their team. A successful team often works under the guidance of a strong leader.
8 key leadership competencies
Here are a few important areas to focus on if you want to become a more competent leader:
Leaders are often judged by their character. A leader who has integrity chooses to make moral choices for the good of others rather than themselves. Leaders with integrity prioritize the consistency of their character in both their personal and professional relationships. Leaders who show integrity are honest, humble and reliable.
Some ideas for improving your integrity include:
Upholding the values and beliefs of the company or organization, even when it’s challenging
Admitting your mistakes with an honest and humble attitude
Prioritizing honesty in all your professional dealings
Making sure all your professional decisions line up with the values of your employer
Doing everything you can to ensure the well-being of your customers, clients and employees
Many of these competencies require leaders to have the fundamental quality of self-discipline, or the ability to control their feelings and overcome any personal challenges. Leaders act not out of their interest but out of concern for others.
Leaders carefully consider the possible consequences of their actions instead of making rash decisions. Self-discipline involves controlling any natural tendencies to act out of anger, greed, or selfishness.
Possibilities for improving your self-discipline include:
Making yourself aware of how your decisions affect others
Choosing to prioritize the needs of others over yourself
Managing your time carefully
Using your energy wisely
Creating a commitment to self-improvement
Taking a deep breath before making important decisions to reflect on any potential consequences
Leaders who communicate information concisely and efficiently are valuable in any work environment. This can allow them to share ideas with team members and provide detailed instructions for success. An equally important element of good communication is a leader’s ability to listen.
Effective leaders are willing to listen to input and ideas from their teammates. Team members who see that you respect and acknowledge their opinions and ideas are more willing to trust their leader’s decisions and judgment.
Here are some suggestions for improving your communication skills:
Make an effort to ask your colleagues for their opinions and ideas
Deliver instructions clearly and thoroughly
After sharing information, ask your listeners if they have any questions or concerns
Be open to considering others’ points of view
Create an easily accessible system for team members to share feedback
Maintain an atmosphere of openness in your workplace
Make it clear to your team that their input is valuable to you
Many industries operate based on established trust between employers, employees and consumers. To lead a team effectively, you can prove your trustworthiness to both your superiors and your team members.
The more trustworthiness you show, the more opportunities you may have to succeed. Trustworthiness is acquired over time and can only be proven by action. Building trust with everyone in your workplace is an important part of being a competent leader.
Here are some examples of how you can improve your trustworthiness:
Endeavor to always meet deadlines and turn in assignments on time
Work on delivering reliable and worthwhile results
Always follow through on your promises
Be forthcoming about your mistakes
Prioritize honesty in your professional relationships and interactions
A valuable quality in a leader is their ability to be a team player. Many teams function based on the individual skills and contributions of each team member. Good leaders know what each member of their team can contribute to a project. They know their team well enough to recognize their skills and know how to use them.
Team players are sometimes called on to make personal sacrifices to improve the overall productivity of the team. Exhibiting teamwork means prioritizing the good of the group over personal gain.
Possibilities for how to improve your competency in teamwork include:
Familiarizing yourself with your team member’s strengths and weaknesses
Volunteering to contribute to group projects or tasks
Supporting your team in any capacity it requires
Being willing to adapt or change your point of view
Giving others the chance to excel and show their skills
6. Conflict management
Competent leaders know how to manage and reduce conflict to preserve a pleasant and productive work environment. A strong leader understands how to develop systems that minimize the likelihood of conflict or minimize any negative effects if it arises.
If conflict begins between individuals or between teams, it can affect the atmosphere and productivity of the entire workplace. A leader who can act as a mediator — or listen to both sides of a disagreement — is capable of dissolving the tension and reviving the cooperation of their team. Negotiation, compromise and tact are valuable skills in conflict management.
Here are some suggestions to improve your conflict management skills:
Learn to sense any tension in your workplace
Make sure your coworkers or employees know they’re welcome to come to you directly with any complaints or concerns
Practice tact when offering advice or input on any situation
Research negotiation skills or seek out opportunities to observe them in action from mentors
Leaders often use their creativity and practical experience to solve problems that arise in the workplace. For many leaders, the opportunity to lead comes with a certain amount of responsibility. When roadblocks appear, competent leaders draw on their resources to find actionable solutions.
You can gain problem-solving skills from practical work experience. Part of problem-solving is combining your knowledge of your job, your practical experience and creative thinking to solve any issues that arise.
Some ideas for improving your problem-solving skills include:
Studying the details of how your job, workplace and industry function
Seeking advice from senior professionals in your workplace
Researching logical thinking skills and how to implement them at work
Learning from any mistakes you might make while gaining experience
Initiative is the ability to make important decisions and complete work without anyone having to ask. Competent leaders see a need and take the steps necessary to fill it. They focus their energy on getting important projects off to a good start.
This may include doing the research, assembling the team and forming a plan of action. While it can seem nerve-wracking to begin work or make decisions without previous discussion, strong leaders are confident in their ability to complete necessary work.
Here are some options for how you can show initiative:
Look for needs in your workplace and think about how you might be able to meet them
Volunteer to solve an inconvenience or inefficiency
Go above and beyond the minimum requirements of a task whenever appropriate
Take it upon yourself to do the necessary research before pitching an idea
Confront any problems that might appear with your methods or plans instead of expecting someone else to solve them.
I hope you find this article helpful.