Whether you’re looking for your first job or brainstorming ways to take your career to the next level, your leadership skills are some of your greatest assets. Employers look for candidates who know how to set goals, motivate others, and work with a team to overcome challenges. Even if you’re applying for an entry-level position, being a good leader demonstrates your aptitude for growth and success in any role.
But what kinds of leadership are most useful in the workplace, and how do you know if you have those skills? To help you showcase your strongest leadership abilities, this guide explains what leadership skills really are and provides an overview of the top nine types of leadership that drive career success.
What are leadership skills?
Leadership skills are the tools you use to coordinate multiple tasks and people to accomplish a shared goal. Just like there are many different leadership styles, there are a wide range of skills involved in leadership. To be a truly exceptional leader, you need to have a combination of soft skills that allow you to intuitively respond to problems as they occur. The versatility of leadership skills make them a desirable qualification for industry beginners and experienced experts.
All of the skills on this list are key aspects of leadership that you can demonstrate in the workplace and in your application materials.
Leadership Skill - Problem-solving
One of the most important traits of a leader is the ability to give good advice to others and step in to help their team with challenges. Solving problems with critical thinking and creativity allows you to not only excel with your own workload but help others improve their processes. Excellent leaders anticipate issues and either find ways to solve those issues on their own or seek out people who have the proper expertise to develop a solution.
Leadership Skill - Communication
To effectively lead others, you need to be able to express yourself accurately, concisely and in a way that your colleagues, employees and supervisors understand. Written and oral communication skills allow you to give useful instructions on how to complete tasks, explain organizational goals and share your ideas and creative vision with others. Communication is also a form of leadership when you use it to resolve conflict and mediate between others, allowing you to build compromise and community on your team.
Leadership Skill - Motivation
Business owners need leaders to motivate staff in order to accomplish company goals. Strong leaders have the ability to find out what motivates their team and leverage that knowledge to inspire them. Being a motivational leader in the workplace involves investing in your team by getting to know them, their interests, their values, and their personal goals, then responding to that information with appropriate rewards and recognition. Leaders know when to give hands-on guidance and when to give employees the freedom to complete projects on their own to cultivate employee competence and build their confidence.
Leadership Skill - Organization
One of the key abilities of a leader is organization. Not only does leadership involve organizing projects and managing timelines, it involves coordinating the activities of different team members and facilitating their communication. Being well-organized and knowing who is responsible for what allows you to delegate tasks more effectively, manage time and allocate resources appropriately. Organized leaders prioritize and organize tasks based on their team's strengths and weaknesses, creating benchmarks to check in with each team member to monitor workflow and make adjustments as needed.
Leadership Skill - Positivity
Even if you don't have a leadership position, you can display leadership potential by maintaining a positive attitude in the workplace. Seeing possibilities in tough situations and maintaining a positive outlook subconsciously encourages others to feel better and more motivated as well. Being friendly, offering regular positive feedback and showing respect to others cultivates a safe, supportive work environment that empowers everyone to do their best work and feel good about doing it. Kindness and positivity can offset the negative affects of stress, especially in high-pressure positions with tight deadlines and challenging clients.
Leadership Skill - Trustworthiness
Businesses rely on trustworthy leaders to bridge the gap between managers and employees. Demonstrate trustworthiness in the workplace by holding yourself accountable and consistently acting according to your ethics. Treating all of your coworkers with the same respect regardless of their position, being consistent in your guidance, and taking responsibility for your behavior all contribute to increased trust and better rapport with your team. Part of being a trustworthy employee also involves showing empathy to others and acting in their best interest, building a professional relationship that helps them feel more invested in their work.
Leadership Skill - Dedication
Being dedicated to your work and the big-picture goals of your team shows that you have the initiative and commitment to be a leader. You can show dedication in the workplace by following through on your goals and promises, then looking for ways to improve processes or go the extra mile to develop a quality product. Strong team leaders set an example for others by putting in extra time when necessary, demonstrating to employees that they would not ask them to do anything they wouldn't do themselves.
Leadership Skill - Adaptability
Businesses seek out forward-thinking candidates for leadership roles, particularly because they are skilled in adaptability, adjusting workflow and strategies based on feedback from employees and evolving industry practices. Business evolves quickly, and flexibility can be the difference between a project succeeding and failing. Adaptability in the workplace has many functions, including implementing employee feedback, responding to client concerns and improvising during negotiations. Flexible leaders are able to handle unexpected staff shortages, negative customer feedback, inventory issues and other business growing pains without disrupting day-to-day operations.
Including leadership skills on a resume
Showcasing your leadership ability on a resume is a great way to get noticed as a competitive candidate. Identify the most relevant aspects of leadership for each job you apply for, and think about how you demonstrated those skills in your past positions. You can list this information in the skills section of your resume, or reference your abilities when describing your relevant experience.