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What Makes A Good Leader: Top 10 Must-Have Skills For Managers

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    The making of a good leader in the workplace means more than just having a title or being the one in charge. A true leader is someone who cares about the well-being and success of their team. While some leaders have a commanding and charismatic presence, there are many different styles of leadership that can be effective. Ultimately, a good leader prioritizes the success of the team as a whole over their own personal popularity.

    Developing Effective Leadership Skills to Be a Good Leader

    Becoming an effective leader is not always easy, and sometimes it can be challenging to know where to start. If you are struggling as a leader, or not being promoted into a leadership role, it may be because you have not been taught the right skills or have been following the wrong examples.

    If you find that your employees do not fully respect you, it could be because you have not yet been shown the right way to earn respect. But we have you covered. In this article, we will help you clear away the confusion and questionable approaches to leadership. We will show you the skills needed to become a stand-out leader.

    With these skills, you can not only get work done effectively but also motivate your workforce and develop your employees into leaders themselves. By mastering these skills, you can create a positive and productive work environment where everyone is motivated and inspired to achieve their best.

    What Does It Mean to Be a Leader?

    The role of a leader in the workplace is crucial for the success of any organization. A good leader can inspire and motivate their team to achieve their goals. While a bad leader can demotivate and undermine the team’s efforts. Being a good leader is not just about having authority. It is also about possessing certain skills and traits that can help you lead your team effectively.

    Here you will find the top 10 must-have skills for managers that can help you become an effective leader in the workplace. Whether you are a new manager or have been leading a team for years, these skills can help you take your leadership to the next level. And create a more productive and positive work environment.

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    Why This Skillset Makes Leaders Stand Out

    The reason this skillset is so important for leaders is that it addresses the subconscious factors that employees look for when choosing to follow and respect someone in a leadership position. While your educational background and experience certainly play a role, it’s ultimately your ability to build trust, rapport, and a positive relationship with your team that makes the biggest difference.

    By following the steps outlined in this article and developing the qualities listed below, you can become a standout leader who inspires and motivates others to do their best work. You don’t have to be an expert at all of these skills. However, by becoming proficient in them, you’ll create what’s known as a Leadership Talent Stack. This is a combination of skills that you’re good at individually, but when combined, can propel you to the top of the leadership ranks.

    We’ll be using the 80/20 rule to show you easy ways to become about 80% proficient in these skills. Which is all you need to make a significant impact as a leader. As you develop your Leadership Talent Stack, you’ll see your reputation as a leader grow and spread throughout your organization. So, let’s get started on developing these essential leadership skills!

    1. Credibility and Trustworthiness Leadership Trait

    Credibility and trustworthiness are essential traits for any leader to possess. One way to build credibility with your employees is to be transparent and honest about your own mistakes. When you admit your mistakes, you show vulnerability and authenticity, which can help to establish trust. Without the trust of your employees, you won’t be able to effectively lead them towards success. Here are some additional points to consider:

    Consistency: Leaders who are consistent in their actions and decisions are more likely to be trusted by their employees. When employees know what to expect from their leader, they are more likely to feel confident in their abilities to lead them.
    Follow-through: If you make promises to your employees, it’s important to follow through on them. If you consistently fail to do so, your employees will lose trust in your leadership abilities.
    Honesty: Be honest with your employees, even if the truth is difficult to share. When you’re upfront and honest, you demonstrate integrity and authenticity, which can help to build trust.

    2. Ability to Address People’s Fears and Work to Calm Them

    Leadership is not just about leading a team when everything is going smoothly. It is about stepping up in times of difficulty and uncertainty. It is during these times that people look to their leader for guidance and support. However, many managers make the mistake of dismissing their employees’ fears by telling them not to be afraid. This approach is ineffective because fear is a subconscious response that cannot be rationalized away with words.

    To address people’s fears and calm them, a leader needs to empathize with their concerns. The easiest way to do this is by matching their tone, body language, and words. As a leader, it may seem counterintuitive to show fear or vulnerability to your team. But it can help to establish a connection with them. By showing that you share their fears and understand their concerns, you create a safe space for open communication.

    Once you have established this connection, you can take control of the situation and guide your team towards a solution. Provide clear paths forward for your team and demonstrate how the issue can be tackled. By addressing your team’s fears and providing a plan of action, you can build trust and respect as a leader.

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    3. Leadership Trait of Inspiring People’s Dreams

    Being a leader is not just about delegating tasks or solving problems at work. It is also about inspiring your team and making them feel that their contributions and ideas matter. People want to be part of something meaningful and fulfilling. This is where inspiring people’s dreams come in as a crucial leadership trait.

    To inspire your team, start by having conversations with them about their aspirations and dreams. Listen carefully to what they have to say and show genuine interest in their goals. By doing so, you can make them feel valued and appreciated. Additionally, you can also share your own experiences and how you pursued your own dreams. This can inspire your team and show them that anything is possible with hard work and determination.

    Another way to inspire your team is to give them opportunities to develop their skills and pursue their interests. This can include offering training programs or allowing them to take on new responsibilities that align with their passions. By doing so, you are not only helping them achieve their dreams but also contributing to their growth and development as professionals.

    4. Influencing and Persuasion Leadership Qualities

    Influencing and persuasion are critical qualities for any effective leader. These skills can make a significant impact on team performance and ultimately drive business success. However, many leaders may not fully understand the science behind persuasion and how to use it effectively.

    Thanks to recent research in behavioral sciences, we now know that people often make decisions based on mental shortcuts or subconscious cues. As a leader, understanding how these cues work and how to use them ethically is crucial to becoming a more influential and persuasive leader.

    One great resource for learning about the psychology of persuasion is Robert Cialdini’s book, “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.” In this book, Cialdini outlines various techniques for persuading others, including the use of social proof, authority, and scarcity.

    Effective persuasion requires a deep understanding of the motivations and needs of those you are trying to persuade. As a leader, you should take the time to listen to your team members, understand their perspectives, and tailor your messaging accordingly.

    5. Decision Making Leadership Skills

    Effective decision making is a vital skill for leaders, especially during challenging times when tough choices need to be made quickly with incomplete information. It’s essential to learn about risk management to make informed decisions with confidence. The book “Fooled by Randomness” by Nassim Taleb is a great resource for leaders to understand the importance of risk-taking and how to navigate it effectively.

    Taleb’s book teaches three valuable skills that leaders can use to make better decisions. The first skill is to focus on the long-term consequences of the decision, not just the immediate benefits or risks. Leaders need to consider how their decisions will impact the team, the organization, and stakeholders in the future.

    The second skill is to avoid overconfidence and over-reliance on past successes. Leaders need to recognize that past performance does not guarantee future outcomes and that unexpected events can disrupt even the most well-planned strategies.

    Finally, you need to be aware of the potential for rare and unpredictable events, known as black swans, that can have a significant impact on the organization. While it’s impossible to predict these events, leaders can prepare for them by building resilient systems, maintaining a flexible mindset, and having contingency plans in place.

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    6. Negotiation Skills of a Great Leader

    Negotiation is a crucial skill for any leader, as it allows you to navigate challenging situations and achieve favorable outcomes. In his book “Trump: The Art of the Deal,” Donald Trump shares insights and strategies that he has used to become a successful negotiator in the business world.

    One of the key takeaways from the book is the importance of preparation. Before entering into a negotiation, it is critical to do your homework and research the other party’s interests, needs, and priorities. This information can be used to develop a strategy that will enable you to achieve your objectives while also satisfying the other party’s goals.

    Another important skill that Trump emphasizes is the ability to control the conversation. This involves being assertive and steering the discussion in a direction that is favorable to you. For example, Trump often starts negotiations by stating his position clearly and confidently, which sets the tone for the rest of the conversation.

    Finally, Trump stresses the importance of being willing to walk away from a negotiation if the terms are not favorable. This requires a certain level of confidence and the ability to understand your own limits. By being willing to walk away, you can demonstrate to the other party that you are serious and may even be able to improve your negotiating position.

    Overall, “Trump: The Art of the Deal” provides valuable insights into the world of negotiation. It offers practical strategies that can be applied in a variety of settings. Whether you are negotiating a business deal or working to resolve a conflict within your team, these skills can help you to achieve your goals and become a more effective leader.


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    7. Simplify Complex Processes and Decision Making

    Simplifying complex processes and decision-making is a critical leadership skill. In today’s fast-paced business world, simplicity is key to success. Complexity can slow down productivity, waste resources, and cause confusion among employees. As a leader, it’s your responsibility to ensure that your team operates efficiently and effectively.

    One of the best ways to simplify complex processes is to break them down into smaller, more manageable steps. By doing this, you can identify inefficiencies and eliminate unnecessary steps. For example, if your team is struggling with a complex project, take a step back and break it down into smaller tasks. This will make it easier for your team to tackle the project, stay motivated, and achieve success.

    Another way to simplify complex processes is to eliminate unnecessary bureaucracy. In his book, “The Lean Startup,” Eric Ries encourages leaders to embrace a “minimum viable bureaucracy” approach. This means that you should only implement the necessary processes and procedures required to achieve your goals. By doing so, you can reduce bureaucracy, streamline decision-making, and increase efficiency.

    Remember, as a leader, it’s your responsibility to simplify complex processes and decision-making. By doing so, you can help your team stay motivated, increase productivity, and achieve success.

    8. Leadership Quality of Dealing with Difficult People

    One of the most challenging aspects of leadership is dealing with difficult people on your team. While you always strive to have a top-performing team, it’s inevitable that you may encounter a problematic employee. It could be due to a lack of skills, a poor attitude, or other factors. As a leader, it’s your responsibility to address the situation and find a solution that works for everyone involved.

    One effective strategy for dealing with difficult employees is to start by having an open and honest conversation with them. This can be uncomfortable, but it’s essential to address the issues and establish a plan for improvement. During the conversation, it’s crucial to be specific about the problems you’re experiencing and provide clear examples. At the same time, listen carefully to the employee’s perspective and try to understand their point of view.

    If the conversation does not result in a positive change in behavior or performance, you may need to consider letting the employee go. While firing someone is never easy, it’s important to protect the performance and morale of the rest of your team. Make sure you follow the proper procedures and document the process to protect your company legally.

    As a leader, you also need to focus on maintaining the performance of the rest of your team. A difficult employee can create a toxic environment that can negatively impact the entire team’s performance. By addressing the situation head-on, you can show your team that you’re committed to creating a positive and productive work environment.

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    9. Leadership Traits for Coaching and Developing Talent

    As a leader, one of your primary responsibilities is to help your team members grow and develop both personally and professionally. The success of your team and ultimately your organization depends on the collective talent and skills of your employees. Here are some effective leadership traits and strategies that can help you coach and develop your team members.

    Set clear goals and expectations: Start by setting clear goals and expectations for your employees. This will help them understand what is expected of them and what they need to achieve to succeed. Ensure that the goals you set are achievable and that your employees have the necessary resources and support to meet them.

    Provide regular feedback: Feedback is essential for growth and development. Regularly provide feedback to your employees on their performance, both positive and negative. Be specific in your feedback and provide actionable steps they can take to improve.

    Encourage learning and experimentation: Encourage your employees to learn and experiment with new ideas and approaches. This will help them develop their skills and build confidence in their abilities.

    Woman in a purple jacket holding a black microphone giving a speech.

    10. Public Speaking Skills for Leadership

    As a leader, your ability to communicate effectively with your team and other stakeholders is crucial. Public speaking is a key skill that can help you to inspire and motivate your team, as well as to convey important information and ideas to external audiences.

    If you struggle with public speaking, it’s important to recognize that this is a common fear and that there are many techniques you can use to improve your confidence and ability. One effective way to do this is by taking a public speaking course, such as the renowned Dale Carnegie course.

    In addition to formal training, there are many other ways to develop your public speaking skills. One approach is to practice speaking in front of smaller groups, such as your team or a group of colleagues. This can help you to build confidence and refine your message.

    Another effective strategy is to watch and learn from other skilled public speakers. Study their techniques, such as their use of storytelling, humor, and body language, and practice incorporating these elements into your own speeches.

    Ultimately, the key to success in public speaking is preparation and practice. Take the time to prepare your message in advance, rehearse your delivery, and seek feedback from others to refine your approach. With time and effort, you can become a more confident and effective public speaker. And in turn, a more effective leader.

    Bonus Skill: 11. Read People and Recognize Their Mental Blind Spots

    The ability to read people and recognize their mental blind spots is an important leadership skill that can help you better understand and communicate with those around you. One great resource for developing this skill is Scott Adams’ book “Loserthink.” Here are three examples from the book to help you read others better:

    Look for confirmation bias: Confirmation bias is the tendency to interpret information in a way that confirms your existing beliefs. To read people better, it’s important to recognize when someone is engaging in confirmation bias. If a team member is only seeking out information that supports their preconceived notions about a project, it may be necessary to challenge them to consider alternative viewpoints.

    Recognize the influence of cognitive dissonance: Cognitive dissonance is the discomfort that arises when holding two conflicting beliefs or ideas. People often try to resolve cognitive dissonance by rationalizing one belief over the other. As a leader, it’s important to recognize when someone is experiencing cognitive dissonance and help them navigate it. For example, if someone is resistant to change because they believe the current way of doing things is the best, it may be necessary to help them recognize the benefits of the proposed changes.

    Beware of motivated reasoning: Motivated reasoning is the tendency to interpret information in a way that supports your desired outcome. Leaders must be aware of this bias when working with team members who are advocating for a particular outcome. If a team member is presenting information to support a particular course of action, it’s important to examine whether the information is being presented in an unbiased and objective manner. By recognizing motivated reasoning, you can ensure that decisions are made based on facts, rather than preconceived notions.

    How to Be a Good Manager at Work

    As a leader, your ability to influence and persuade is crucial. By honing your skills in this area, you can inspire your team to achieve great things, rally support for your vision, and build strong relationships with stakeholders. Additionally, simplifying complex processes is essential to ensure that your team is not bogged down by red tape and can focus on delivering results. And when it comes to dealing with difficult employees, knowing how to have those hard conversations and maintain the performance of the rest of your team is critical.

    By focusing on these top three leadership skills, you can transform your leadership abilities and take your team to new heights. Mastering these skills may seem daunting, but with practice and perseverance, you can become a more persuasive communicator, a simplification champion, and a master of difficult conversations. As you continue to improve in these areas, you’ll notice a positive impact on team morale, productivity, and overall performance. So don’t be afraid to step up and take on the challenge of becoming the best leader you can be.

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    How This Will Make You a Good Leader

    You’ve learned several key skills that can help you become a better leader. If you have time to work on just three, do these. By mastering the art of persuasion and influence, you’ll be able to inspire your team and get them to follow your lead. You’ll also be able to simplify complex processes and decision-making, freeing up your team to focus on their work and be more productive. And when you encounter difficult employees, you’ll be equipped with the tools and strategies you need to manage them effectively and keep your team performing at their best.

    These skills may seem daunting at first, but with practice and perseverance, you can develop them and become a more effective leader. Whether you’re a manager, a team leader, or an entrepreneur, these skills will serve you well and help you achieve your goals. Remember, leadership is not just about having power or authority. It’s about using your skills and knowledge to inspire and guide others towards a common goal. So take what you’ve learned and apply it to your work, and watch as you become the superhero leader you were always meant to be!

    Effective Leadership Qualities for Your Direct Reports

    Here are the top leadership qualities that need to be developed in your direct reports based on the previously discussed skills:

    Influencing Skills: Your direct reports should possess influencing skills in order to effectively communicate their ideas and persuade others to see their point of view. This skill is important because it allows your direct reports to build strong relationships with their colleagues, negotiate effectively, and build consensus.

    Public Speaking Skills: Your direct reports should be able to communicate their ideas clearly and confidently in front of an audience. This skill is important because it enables them to deliver effective presentations, build strong relationships with clients and stakeholders, and represent your organization at important events.

    By developing these skills in your direct reports, you can create a team that is able to communicate effectively, collaborate efficiently, and achieve your organization’s goals. With a team that possesses these qualities, you can be confident in their ability to lead and manage effectively.

    Additional Reading on What Makes a Good Leader

    Becoming an effective leader is an ongoing journey. Reading about the experiences and insights of successful leaders can be a valuable part of that journey. Fortunately, there are many best-selling books available that provide practical advice, leadership strategies, and case studies for aspiring leaders. Whether you’re a seasoned manager or just starting out, the following three classic books have stood the test of time. They offer valuable insights that are still relevant today.

    The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey – This book has been a bestseller for over 25 years and is a must-read for anyone looking to improve their leadership skills. Covey provides practical advice and strategies for developing habits that lead to success, both in personal and professional life.

    How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie – First published in 1936, this classic book remains a bestseller to this day. Carnegie offers timeless advice on how to improve communication skills, build strong relationships, and influence others in a positive way.

    Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting out of the Box” by The Arbinger Institute – This book has been around for over 20 years and has become a staple in leadership literature. The Arbinger Institute presents a compelling argument for the importance of self-awareness and the impact it has on leadership effectiveness. The book provides practical tools for leaders to overcome self-deception and improve their relationships with others.

    All the Books Discussed in This Article

    Shaun Mendonsa, PhD is an influencing expert and pharmaceutical development leader. He writes on the topics of influence and persuasion, and develops next generation drugs in human pharma by advising international pharmaceutical CROs and CMOs. He can be reached at [email protected].


    How To Be A Good Leader; Effective Leadership; Simplification; Leadership Development; Leadership Tips; Talent Management; Negotiation; Decision Making; Influence, Persuasion; Public Speaking; Loserthink; Coaching; Risk Management; Difficult Employees; Risk Management; Negotiation Skills

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