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What are the Most Important Skills for a Leader?

on 18 December 2017

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Posted by Kevin Senior
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Many people go through their entire careers dreaming of becoming a leader, but without fully understanding what the role is all about. This is the type of job that is ideal for some people but not for everyone. Therefore, before setting your heart on being a leader it is worth looking at the most important skills needed and seeing whether you possess them.

Being Able to Plan Ahead

Leader can’t just drift from one day to another, dealing with issues as they crop up. Instead, they need to be able to plan ahead effectively. Will new staff be needed in the next month or two? Is there a major project or legislation change on the horizon that needs to be planned for? Thinking strategically and in the long-term is something that can be learned over time, although it also appears to come naturally to some people. If it doesn’t, the staff in your team will most likely realise if you aren’t doing this well and may start to get worried about the future. 

Finding a Way of Motivating the Team

Not every team will carry on working constantly to high standards without some help. In fact, even the best teams need someone to gee them along from time to time. 

A top-notch leader will always find a way of motivating their team when they most need it. At times this could mean giving them more freedom and at other times it could mean offering powerful incentives or explaining clearly how important a task is for the company.

Choosing the perfect approach at the right time is a difficult skill that can make all the difference to a team’s performance.

Skilled at Encouraging Team Collaboration

Of course, any team leader has to also work out how to get their team working together as happily and efficiently as possible. It simply isn’t possible to leave everyone working away on their own and still be successful.

It is the leader’s job to find the tools that people need to collaborate, but they also need to inspire the staff to want to do this as well. It is no good giving them the best tools around if they aren’t going to use them to the best possible advantage. 

Therefore, this is a task that needs to be handled very carefully in both of these aspects. If it is, then the team should be able to pull together and produce a far better performance than would be the case without such a high level of collaboration. 

Comfortable Dealing with Different Types of People

As a leader, you will need to be comfortable speaking to all sorts of people. From new, junior of staff to board members and important clients, this is the sort of role that needs a person who can deal with just about anyone easily. 

As well as running meetings and workshops, a leader will typically also hold staff reviews, meet the biggest clients and generally be the face of the company. Therefore, they need to look professional at all times and also be able to shift their approach in order to get their message through to different people as needed. 

If you don’t feel comfortable with this then it is definitely worth concentrating on projecting confidence, and improving your communication and inter-personal skills. Too many people neglect these areas in order to focus more strongly on technical aspects of the job. 

Doesn’t Shirk the Tough Conversations and Decisions

Lastly, no leader of any company can avoid tough conversations and decisions for very long. Employees may need to be warned, customers given bad news and board members told the harsh reality of a failing project. 

Life would be great if it was all sweetness and light but there is simply no way of making this happen day after day at work. The ability to make a tough decision and then stand squarely behind it marks out the best leaders. 

No-one likes to give out bad news or make unpopular decisions but sometimes it just has to be done. If you tend to shirk away from moments like this then it is another area that you will want to work on and hone before you make the bold leap into a dynamic leadership role. 


Glasscubes is a user-friendly collaboration software for teams. Connect everyone that you work with in an online workspace that improves the way you share files, manage projects and communicate with each other.

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About this author: Kevin Senior

Managing Director at Glasscubes. With over 30 years experience working with businesses of all sizes and industries, Kevin brings success to fast growing companies advising on best practices and growth lead technology solutions.