Leadership is a topic which has been misunderstood by many over the years. There are several schools of thought with varying definitions of leadership. Several concepts, theories and ideas of leadership have been propounded by experts and a lot of research and studies have also been carried out on this very interesting but controversial topic. Some describe Leadership as "the act of leading or guiding others or the state of being a leader." An individual is said to show leadership by being able to lead others towards the achievement of set goals or by leading a team or an organization. Skill, on the other hand is simply "the ability to do something well; to develop an ability."
One thing we all agree on is that no one is born a leader from the womb. Everyone has equal opportunity to aspire to be a leader in his or her own sphere of life. An understanding of the concept of Leadership skills will help people who desire to become leaders strive for excellence in order to make maximum impact in their chosen fields of endeavour.
What the experts say
A leading expert on the subject of leadership, Genevieve Capowski in his article, 'The Anatomy of a Leader: Where are the Leaders of Tomorrow' agrees "that leaders are not born but they are made. They are made by effort and hard work." John Adair, who has also been described as one of the foremost thinkers on the subject of leadership in his book, Great Leaders (1989) demonstrated that leadership
is a trainable and transferable skill and not an exclusively innate or inborn ability.
These go to buttress the point I have made above that no one comes into the world, a prepared leader, but everyone has equal opportunity and platform to grow into a leader in his chosen field and profession. You need to understand that we all have the seed of leadership inside of us but how we nurture and cultivate the seed will determine how far we can go.
What are the skills required in Leadership
Leadership skills refer to the abilities or enablement which makes a leader or anyone who is in a position of leadership effective and successful. These skills are learnable and can be developed with careful observation, study and practice. It is also important that leadership skills can't really be taught, yes we have leadership courses but these cannot teach character or vision to an individual. It must come from within the individual for it to drive him. At this point, we will take a look at some of these skills that help make an effective leader. Leaders who fail do not possess and are often uninterested in developing some of the skills I shall highlight here.
A leader may not have all the requisite skills that are required but self evaluation will help in determining what they need to learn or re-learn to develop skill in a particular area. Some skills take more time than others to learn while others are learnt on-the-job.
1. One of the Leadership skills that make a leader successful is the ability to identify and nurture future leaders. Yes, leadership cannot be taught but younger people who show potential can be identified and nurtured to climb into leadership positions.
2. Another skill is understanding the art of leading others. This is an important skill because being able to carry others along towards the pursuit of a goal is very important if the organisation or team is to succeed. Leaders must also lead by example. They do not only give instructions to their team but they practise what they expect others to do.
3. A leader who has good listening skills will ultimately succeed because he or she is able to relate with every team member no matter their position in the organisation and may be
able to get feedback which would help move the business forward.
4. The skill required in understanding and driving the vision of a team or organization is important. Inability to understand it and also make it plain to the other team members will ultimately lead to failure.
5. Being able to communicate effectively is one of the skills anyone in leadership should possess because without it, goals will remain unachievable. He should also be aware of his body language because people read meanings into body language, posture and expressions.
6. Problem solving skills must be exhibited by leaders in any capacity. The ability to proffer efficient solutions to issues will make him stand out.
7. Leaders are effective when they are able to conceptualize a plan and follow it to its successful completion.
8. A skilful leader is one who is able to motivate others to contribute their skills and knowledge in pursuit of the goals and vision of a team or organisation. He is skilful in providing encouragement and complimenting the efforts of all members of the team.
9. The leader must be skilful in adapting to changes in the business environment and should not be thrown off balance by them.
10. The leader should have good organizational skills that will enable him or her set targets and expectations for team members; delegate duties; set deadlines and timelines for tasks and evaluate alternative lines of action in certain situations.
11. Another important skill a leader must possess is the ability to take responsibility even in times of failure. A skilful leader knows how to behave when all is going well and when things are not so good. He must be wise when dealing with each team member.
12. A skilful leader should also be current with developments in technology and advancements in knowledge as it relates to the business. He should be up-to-date on happenings in his area of business and must be seen to be on top of his game by his followers.
These leadership skills if developed properly will help the leader work effectively with his team and produce enviable results. It will also engender unity and enable each members contribute their best towards the collective vision.