3 Essential Leadership Skills

Our society has always looked up to, and rewarded, great leaders. A leader inspires, leads, and unites those around him toward a mutual goal. Leadership is not all about charisma. A leader needs to think strategically in his actions. He needs to give other people room to grow beside him. Most of all, leadership is about earning the respect, love and loyalty of those you lead.

Here are three essential leadership skills:

1. Active listening

To listen doesn’t mean the same thing as to hear. In order to hear you only need one semi-functional ear. It’s mostly a passive process. Listening involves paying attention to what the other person is saying, and understanding the verbal and emotional messages transmitted. The key element of active listening is feedback – non-verbal feedback showing attention and responsiveness, and verbal feedback showing that you understand and that you are exploring the issue. Active listening makes the other person feel listened to and accepted, and leads to an atmosphere of trust and feelings of loyalty.

2. Knowing how to empower

An effective leader empowers those around him. He will assign responsibilities and give the employees the freedom of choosing the means to reach their goals. He will only interfere if it looks like the employee can’t deal with the situation otherwise. Creating an organizational culture based on empowering might be less easy than it sounds. Some people need or want approval, mostly because they don’t want to be held responsible for their bad calls or failures. However, employees who feel empowered will feel more motivated, and they will acknowledge the self-development opportunity they are presented with. So, although you’re convinced you can do it better, or faster, don’t hesitate to delegate.

3. Knowing how to give effective feedback

Feedback refers to communicating to an employee/team member about how efficient you think their behavior/actions were. In order to be effective, feedback needs to be specific – referring to specific actions, immediate – immediately or as soon as possible after the behavior/action in question, and constructive – explaining what was great, what needs to be improved the next time, and perhaps some ideas on how to do so. Feedback is not about humiliating someone, it treats every failure as a learning experience – so while positive feedback is given in public, negative feedback is given in private and should end in an encouragement.