The Most Important Leadership Skills You’ll Ever Learn

Leaders must encourage their employees much like coaches must encourage their players.

The Most Important Leadership Skills You’ll Ever Learn

I’m a Boston Red Sox fan living in New York City, and that’s a tricky thing to navigate! I bleed Boston red amongst Yankee blue. Oh, yeah! I live on the edge! Even though I live in “enemy territory” (and actually love it), there are few things more challenging than leadership. A business relies upon its leader, and more often than not, the leader is the one who makes or breaks the company. Successful leaders encourage successful employees, and there are some leadership skills that every businessperson should learn that create a positive and profitable business environment.

One of the most important leadership skills that all leaders should embrace is communication. Now you’re probably saying “Thank you, Captain Obvious,” but bear with me for just a second. I don’t simply mean communication as in talking to your employees and being clear with respect to what’s expected of them. I mean communication as in encouragement, honesty, and inspiration, all mixed in with a little bit of engaging humor. “Good morning, Fred. Get me those accounting reports by 10 a.m.” is not what I’m talking about!

Dull, dry, demanding communication discourages your employees and disables them instead of empowering them; yet you don’t need to be all sickly-sweet either. You need to be honest. Fred is going to be more inclined to do as you request if you let him know exactly why you need the numbers by 10. You’re not being a power-hungry jerk and making demands before he’s had his first cup of coffee for kicks. You have a board meeting at 11, the shareholders want to see the quarterly figures, and you want to review them first so you know what you’re talking about if they have questions. Fred will get it, and most likely happily comply.

That kind of honesty goes a long way because your employees will feel more on your level, something that is important to everyone. Infusing that honest communication with a smile on your face, some encouraging words, and even a bit of humor is even better. “Morning Fred. I have the board meeting at 11 and I need you to work your magic, please. The shareholders want to see the quarterly figures and I need to know what the heck I’m talking about when they quiz me. If you could please get me quarterly reports by 10, I’d be indebted. Thanks!”… or something like that. Fred’s going to be a lot happier with this request than “get me the bleeping numbers!”

Let’s infuse some attitude while we’re talking communication. Your attitude as the leader of your organization or group of employees is critical to everyone’s success. You, as the leader, must always possess a positive attitude that motivates your employees to excel, even when things look grim. It doesn’t matter that you just received teeth marks in your behind from your boss first thing in the morning. It doesn’t matter that the quarterly figures Fred got you look really, really bad – I mean REALLY bad. You have to exude confidence in everyone and their commitment to the overall goals and keep your crew up instead of down. Positive attitude, confidence in your team, and commitment to your goals through thick or thin goes a very long way with employees.

Finally, there are times when leaders have to do things they’d rather not, such as disciplining employees or delegating work to ensure the job gets done. Nobody wants to discipline or fire anybody, unless you’re a sadist! And leadership tasks such as delegating assignments can be such a pain because they are often met with resistance and resentment. You’re the boss, and sometimes you have to do what the boss has to do. How you perform these leadership tasks says a tremendous amount about your leadership skills. Communicating honestly with troubled employees and fully explaining why delegating work is necessary will instill a sense of confidence and camaraderie in your staff, and that’s the best thing a leader can ask for.


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