When someone leads their team to victory, their adoring fans say they were born to lead.
We have a bone to pick with those fans. Because leadership isn’t a birthright, true leadership is a set of carefully cultivated skills that anyone can learn if they’re willing to put in the effort.
What does demonstrating good leadership in the workplace look like?
As it turns out, it’s about mastering these five essential soft skills: empathy, accountability, honesty, and flexibility.
If there’s one thing that almost everyone could use more of, it’s empathy. Employees agree. Studies performed by Development Dimensions International rank empathy as the biggest sole leadership skill in demand today.
Your ability to empathize with your team and listen and respond accordingly will outshine everything else you do as a leader. When you practice empathy, you know whether you were able to reach your staff, and it will directly impact your ability to strategize.
Practicing empathy can be difficult: too much can lead to burnout. But it’s worthwhile because in return for giving empathy, you’ll enjoy a more loyal and engaged staff and you’ll be happier in general.
When you step into a leadership role, you are the one who needs to answer for both your actions and your team’s. However, accountability is more than stepping up to take responsibility for individual decisions. When you lead, their success is your success, but their failure is also your failure.
Accountability is easier said than done. It can be challenging to admit that not only was there a failure but that you are at the center of it. At the same time, 91% of employees feel that accountability is one of the most essential parts of a workplace and that they don’t feel there are enough mechanisms to hold leadership to account.
Honesty is a core skill both on its own and as part of developing accountability. If you can’t be honest with yourself or with your team, then you will never be an effective leader. Not only will your team members struggle to trust you or be honest with you, but you can’t create a strategy based on something that isn’t true.
So be honest, even and especially when it’s tempting to skirt the truth.
Flexibility is an increasingly important part of leadership. In today’s world, it’s important to be open to new ideas, ready to change, and happy to accept the prospect of working with people whose experiences differ from yours.
When you’re flexible, you can keep productivity up, even when you’re hit with a period defined by constant change.
Maybe there are born leaders. But we know that the best leaders are those who work hard on developing the skills that allow them to empathize and strategize in equal parts.
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