Top 5 Skills Every Leader Should Possess

In his satirical work “Twelfth Night,” the playwright William Shakespeare wrote: “Be not afraid of greatness. Some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon ’em.” You’d like to believe being a great leader is an innate talent, but you know it takes hard work, dedication and the correct skill set in order to effectively manage a team. Keep these top five skills every competent leader should possess in mind when determining your definition of greatness in the business world.


Far and away, one skill every great leader should possess is a clear vision and an ability to set manageable and realistic goals. You must be able to provide those under you with direction and lay out the steps necessary to achieve a result in a set amount of time. For instance, let’s say you’re working with a team on developing a new logo for a soda manufacturer. As a team leader, it’s your responsibility to provide a clear timeline for your colleagues that includes manageable deadlines and clear steps for adhering to your vision throughout the entire project.


Ask any woman with kids and she will tell you the ability to keep a home organized is the key to her ultimate success. It’s no different in the business world, which is why organizational skills are another important trait you should possess. Luckily, this is also one trait easily changed if you’re not the neatest person around. Work on your organizational skills by attempting a simple project at home. For instance, tackle those stacks of old bills and receipts in your cramped hallway closet, or organize the clothing in your dresser. You’ll be amazed at how getting your home life organized will inspire you to make a few meaningful changes at work.


No matter what the circumstances, no leader has ever fostered a sense of unity and team spirit while sitting on his perch barking orders to his underlings. As a leader, it’s important to remember that you’re a member of the team. Sure, your paycheck might say otherwise, but this fact won’t inspire anyone to work alongside you to complete the job. One of the best ways to keep yourself grounded is by taking on the same tasks as your subordinates. Work alongside them to achieve the final goal instead of delegating every responsibility while you play the role of manager.


The perks of being a leader in the business world are plenty. Unfortunately, there are also several downsides. One of the biggest is dealing with interpersonal disputes among coworkers, but there is one way to prepare yourself for the inevitability of handling arguments: Achieving a masters in negotiation through an online university is not only an impressive addition to your resume, this degree also prepares you for real-world situations and provides you with a useful skill set that many of your fellow executives don’t possess.


The final skill every great leader should possess is arguably the most important: adaptability. In this tough economic climate, the ability to remain flexible and roll with the proverbial punches is one attribute many effective leaders are utilizing more often. Employers are impressed by an executive or manager who can get the job done in the face of budget cuts and an ever-shrinking workforce. Once again, this is one skill that many foster in their personal life and then translate into the business world. As a parent, student or friend, you’ve probably helped others formulate a Plan B, C or even D in order to get by. Use this skill in your business life and you’re guaranteed to get noticed.
While you foster the skills necessary to become a great leader, there is one more to consider: the ability to learn from your mistakes. Human beings are fallible by nature, and just because you’re in charge doesn’t mean you won’t suffer an off day or make mistakes. A great leader will pick himself up and use the mistake as a lesson on how to perform better in the future.
Image from Flickr’s Creative Commons
About the Author: Janet Meyers is a guest blogger and recent graduate. After years of dedication, Janet has finally completed her MBA from Creighton University online.