There’s a lot that goes into being a successful leader! Between having solid experience in your field and a deep set of technical skills, you need to have the right tools to lead a team to success. But that’s not all—in order to grow as a leader, you need to ensure you’re honing and boosting your soft skills or essential traits as well.
Why? These less tangible skills are the tools you’ll lean on when guiding, leading, and interacting with your team, and can have a significant influence on your team’s overall success. The right combination of technical and essential skills can help your team stay motivated and see their impact, keep them organized and on track to meet goals, and ultimately, keep them satisfied with the work they’re doing.
If you want to grow as a leader, here are the five essential skills you should build on:
Challenges can come up quite often in the workplace, and leaders shoulder most of the responsibility in handling them. Being resilient can help you grow as a leader because it goes hand-in-hand with being a strong problem solver. To build your resiliency, take a step back when an issue arises. Instead of immediately reacting, take a break or a walk to process the situation in order to help clear your mind and weigh all your options in handling it. From there, you can come up with a strategy and plan for how the problem can be solved.
As a leader, your team will regularly look to you for guidance, which means you need to be able to clearly communicate expectations and tasks. To do this, schedule check-ins with your team on a regular basis. These check-ins certainly don’t always need to be formal, but ensuring you have set aside time for your reports to meet with you is key to keeping the lines of communication open. These check-ins will give both you and your report(s) the opportunity to discuss your needs, priorities, and goals.
In addition to communicating regularly with your direct reports, it’s important to encourage communication, collaboration, and transparency across the team. Whether that is by establishing monthly team meetings or utilizing communication and task management tools like Slack or Asana, it’s your responsibility to help facilitate this connection and set these communication expectations.
Conflict is bound to happen at some point and knowing how to recognize and best handle these situations is critical for you to grow as a leader. Ideally the parties involved can navigate conflict on their own, but there may be times when you need to intervene. When you find yourself in this situation, talk to each party separately for their perspective before sitting down with everyone involved. From there, be objective and give them a list of solutions to help everyone move forward. While this can be tense and uncomfortable, staying neutral in a situation like this is the best way to help everyone move on. Read also: 3 Ways To Deal With Conflict In The Workplace
A trap many leaders fall into is being unable to properly delegate tasks. This could leave you feeling burnt out and prevent you from identifying new growth opportunities for your team. To strengthen your delegation skills, you should consider the strengths and weaknesses of each member of your team, and assign tasks based on your assessment. This can create a heightened sense of responsibility, confidence, motivation, and camaraderie in your team.
Compassion & empathy
A recent Gallup poll discovered that workers are more stressed than ever before, and that this trend is likely to continue in the future. As a leader, it’s critical that you’re able to identify when someone on your team is stressed, and to handle the situation with compassion and empathy. Your goal here isn’t to pressure them into sharing information they aren’t comfortable disclosing—instead, you want to show them that you can be trusted if they need to come to you. To build this trust, start by making it clear that you’re there to provide support when they’re struggling with work. This could be offering additional guidance and support on a project or, if possible, allowing flexibility with a deadline. Being proactive with gestures like this will make your team feel more comfortable approaching you for help in the future should the need arise.