9 Skills Of An Effective Leader

Leadership occurs every day in a number of ways across a number of settings. It is easy to think that being a manager or in a position of power creates automatic leadership skills. Unfortunately, it doesn't. Just like giving someone a good car doesn't make them a good driver or having a child doesn't make a person an effective parent. 

Leadership comes from the ability to build relationships, develop a common motive and putting effective strategies in place to support the end goal. 

Effective leaders know how to be assertive without dismissing the others point of view. They can discuss the topic at hand without having to win or be right or convince the other. In fact, really effective leaders will aim for a win/win in all conversations. From a discussion with the CEO to the janitor. They know people matter. They use conflict as an opportunity to bring clarity and bridge the distance between their understanding and the others, rather than prop their ego or self-esteem. 

The delegation of both duties and praise is a key skill of an effective leader. Not only can they delegate the workload to those with the skills in that area, they also ensure those that follow them feel valued and respected for their skill set. Effective leaders will ensure they give the correct job to the correct people as well as thank them for what goes well, even when aspects go wrong. Effective leaders know where to focus their attention when leading and it's on what works, what skills others have, what vulnerabilities need developing and the relationships they rely on to ensure all this occurs. 

Being an effective leader requires one to be approachable and relatable without being a people pleaser. A fine line and challenging balance to maintain.  A leader who is withdrawn from basic relating with others or has a demeanour which is off-putting to approach will undermine any leadership they try to implement. A withdrawn leader will dis-encourage equality in relationships, which in and of itself will undermine the value of others they work with and their contribution. 

An effective leader knows how to listen,  they listen with the intent to learn, to understand and to support. They listen for what is under the statement and what is really being asked for. Listening from a defensive or "fix it" place can leave someone in a leadership role frustrated with the needs of others and self-absorbed in their own situation without a bigger vision on the dynamics playing out and effective ways to resolve them. 

Proactive approaches with a can do, solution focused attitude can support a leader in leading. A critical and reactive leader prepares and conditions their team to procrastinate and then react. When a leader is looking ahead and finding solutions before they are needed, a leader role models and conditions their team to do the same. 

An effective leader knows how to ask for help, and who to ask! 

An effective leader knows they are strongest when they are being a team player, they know that being part of rather than separate to those they lead creates more flow and capacity within teams. 

Lastly, effective leadership requires a person to not only relate but communicate in a way that is understood and trusted in by their team.

Effective leadership doesn't come from books, it comes from practice, reflection and adaptation. The practice is easy, the reflection requires a leader to have the capacity to look at themselves more objectively. Which requires a higher level of emotional intelligence. 

A quick recap of an effective leader:

  1. Is assertive but aims for a win-win whenever possible.

  2. Knows how to delegate work and praise.

  3. Is approachable and relatable, values people.

  4. Listens to understand, learn and support.

  5. Pro-active rather than reactive

  6. Knows how to ask for help and who to ask for help!

  7. Works with a team is part of the team they lead.

  8. Communicates authentically and clearly!

  9. Practice and reflect and change as required!

If your unsure of your own leadership qualities, simply list out barriers or frustrations you have when leading and compare them to this list. That will give you a quick bitesize understanding of the area of the challenge you need to focus, for more in-depth progress contact me for leadership coaching. 


This article was an accumulation of work between Tina Twomey BA, MA, NUI & Sile Walsh HDip, MSc, Mac, NUI.