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Leadership Skills Are for Everyone

You might think an organization’s leadership team sits at the top of the corporate ladder. But you don’t have to be an executive in the company to become a leader at work.

Any employee can be a leader.

What is a leader?

A leader is anyone who influences and supports another person or group to achieve a shared goal.

People are not born leaders. They take on the role based on their passion and drive. They use that passion to inspire others to do—and be—their very best.

Great leaders stand out because of what they do, not because of their job title. We can all strive to lead from wherever we are.

Leading with a good idea: Shahid’s story

My name is Shahid. I work in maintenance for an affordable housing company. Despite a long waiting list for rental units, we used to have suites sitting empty for several weeks. Why? Because we were waiting for new flooring and other materials to arrive.

It bothered me. Every vacant unit is a double loss. It’s a lost opportunity to house someone in need. It’s also lost rental income for the company. We needed to find a way to turn over vacant suites faster.

I had an idea, and I pitched it to my manager. Instead of waiting for tenants to move out, we could inspect suites as soon as tenants gave their 1-month notice to vacate. That way we could order materials right away. Because the materials would already be on site when the tenant moved out, we could start working right away.

My employer liked the idea. All vacant units are now back in the rental pool in under 30 days. People in need are finding housing faster. And the company has increased its annual revenues.

The skills you need to lead at work

There are many different styles of leadership. However, most leaders have certain soft skills in common. These skills are important for success in any job but in a leadership role, they’re essential.

Key leadership traits

To be a leader you need:

  • Motivation. Leaders are motivated to drive change for the better. They have passion. They believe in themselves, their team, and the value of their mission.
  • Focus. Leaders must focus on solutions, not problems. Leaders are positive people. They are creative, confident, determined, and adaptable. They have a big-picture perspective. Where there’s a will, there’s a way—and they’re focused on providing it.
  • A sense of responsibility. Leaders take responsibility for their decisions and actions. They do this even when they make mistakes. Owning their mistakes allows leaders to learn from them and grow through them. Most important, it allows them to avoid repeating them.
  • Eagerness to learn. Leaders love learning. They love sharing knowledge and helping others succeed. They enjoy empowering their team. They are good communicators, and excellent listeners. Everyone who works with a good leader knows their goals and understands their strategies for success.
  • People skills. Leaders are part of a team. Each of the people on the team has their own strengths, wants, and needs. Leaders get to know their team members. They learn what motivates each person and what stresses them. They know how best to help each of them excel.

Employers look for leaders

Employers want effective leaders because they add value to the organization at every level.

Leaders bring energy

Effective leaders have a positive, can-do attitude. Their unwavering confidence is contagious—it energizes the workplace. Their encouragement and support motivates others to perform at a higher level. It inspires greatness from the entire team.

Leaders look for solutions

Every organization faces challenges that could threaten success. Leaders excel at pinpointing obstacles and finding creative ways to overcome them. With their big-picture understanding of the organization and its goals, leaders make sure proposed solutions work without creating new problems.

Leaders drive innovation

Rapid advances in technology are changing what is possible. For organizations to remain competitive, they must keep up. If they want to dominate, they have to initiate. Effective leaders keep their organization on the forefront of industry trends and global advancements. They’re eager to learn, grow, and try new tools and approaches.

Leaders inspire commitment

The best leaders demonstrate honesty, integrity, confidence, and commitment on the job. They earn respect within their team, and inspire team members to respect each other.

You may already have what it takes

Whether you're applying for an entry-level job or eyeing a promotion, leadership skills can be one of your best-selling features.

You might already have some good leadership traits. Employers will want to know about those. So when you apply for a job or promotion, be sure to:

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