Eight skills for effective leadership
Bad leaders have a huge impact on businesses. According to James K Harter, Gallup’s chief scientist for workplace management, at least 50% of people have quit because of a bad manager; while 75% of the reasons for costly voluntary turnover come down to things that managers can influence.
Fortunately, leadership capabilities can be trained and improved. Managers can ensure that they have the basic set of skills necessary for leading a group of people towards a common goal.
Here are eight skills for starters:
- Effective leaders know their team
One of the things that separates an average leader from a great one is caring about their people. The more you take care of your team, the more motivated they’ll be to take care of your products, customers and ultimately help your company achieve its mission. Take time to learn more about who your team members are, how they like to work and what their interests and talents are.
- Innovate and commit to a vision
The Harvard Business Review interviewed 33 leaders in the top 99th percentile for innovation (as measured by their peers, employees and bosses) and found that innovative leaders all display excellent strategic vision. They can picture and articulate what they want to achieve, why it’s important, and how they’re going to do it.
- Lead by example
While some leaders adopt the “do as I say, not as I do” philosophy, the most effective leaders lead by example, with integrity and high energy, following the same working patterns, advice and ethics that they expect from their team.
- Are direct
As a leader you must work towards implementing a culture that allows people to speak their mind freely and share their thoughts without fear. By telling people what you think of their work honestly, they both feel recognised and know how to improve.
- Effective leaders listen to their team
It’s important to realise that your team aren’t the only ones to benefit from honest feedback: you can too. Seeing things from your own perspective may not be enough to really see things as they are. Talking to other people (friends, leaders, employees) broadens your horizons and gives you the necessary perspective to explore areas that need improvement.
- Give credit where credit is due
Workplaces where leadership is lacking have toxic cultures that do not foster trust or collaboration. In a 2019 study by BambooHR, 57% of employees said that a boss taking credit for other people’s work is unacceptable. Give credit where it’s due.
- Serve as a mentor
We all know from our own personal experiences with great parents, teachers, coaches and mentors that great leaders care about improving the lives of those around them. As a leader, you are a mentor to your teammates. And, just like good parenting, good mentoring requires building people up, not breaking them down out of frustration.
- Are digitally aware
It’s not possible to be an innovative leader in the 21st century unless you’re also digitally savvy. A study by DDI found that digital-ready leaders (those with the skills and capability to operate effectively in a digital environment) are more likely to feel that they are “definitely engaged” at work; and twice as many digital-ready leaders feel a sense of accountability for effectively leading their people. In addition, companies that have the most digitally capable leaders financially outperform the average by 50%.
Ultimately, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to leadership; different styles suit different people. You therefore need to find the style that suits your innate personality and strengths. With today’s business leaders required to operate in an increasingly complex global environment, the 100% online Leadership and Management MScs from the University of York are designed to build your practical knowledge while developing your theoretical understanding of the business landscape.
Covering three key business disciplines, innovation, finance, and international business, they can help you develop the distinct skills required for effective leadership across a huge range of industries, functions and roles. You will also benefit from the ethical, socially responsible and international themes that underpin all programme content.
The 100% online curriculum is designed to enable you to study at your own pace, alongside your existing career. There are six start dates per year, flexible payment options and postgraduate government loans to cover the full programme cost, for those that are eligible.