1. Interpersonal communication
As a leader, communication skills are essential. Interpersonal communication is the part of this skill set that focuses not only on the words you use, but your tone, body language, facial expressions and hand gestures, too. Remember, employees infer meaning from a variety of verbal and non-verbal signals, and it’s critical to remain aware of both when you’re addressing your team. For example, if you’re kicking off a complicated project with your team and you want to help motivate them for the tasks ahead, it’s important you deliver the message using a positive, upbeat tone, a smile and words like “opportunity” rather than “challenge.”
2. Active listening
Another communication skill every leader should embrace is active listening. In other words, listening carefully to the message the other person is delivering and retaining the information they share. This can help you better understand each team member’s personal needs, challenges and concerns, and be proactive in addressing them. It also helps you build rapport and leave a positive impression. For example, if a team member shares that they’d like to take on more creative projects and you begin delegating more creative assignments to them, it shows you’re listening to their needs and care about their fulfillment at work.
One of the most difficult obstacles leaders face is unifying their team around a common purpose and driving cooperation. Setting clear, measurable goals helps teams work together and, when they achieve their objective, helps them bond over a shared success. For example, instead of telling your team you want to increase revenue this quarter, set an exact goal with a measurable number and lay out a clear roadmap for reaching it. This way, your team knows what’s expected and can unite to meet the objective.
As a leader, it’s critical you’re able to simultaneously support company goals as well as your team’s needs. Achieving this balance means maintaining good relations with both senior stakeholders as well as the people you’re managing through open communication with both parties. For example, in some cases, reaching a company goal may mean asking your team to increase their output by working extended hours. In this situation, you may choose to negotiate performance-based bonuses for each team member. This not only helps the company by ensuring your team is motivated to meet their goal, but it also shows your team you value their extra efforts.
5. Conflict resolution
Sometimes, conflicts arise between employees or departments, and it’s up to those in management positions to ease tensions and unify the workforce. This requires patience, consistent communication and immediate action. Quickly addressing any conflicts will ensure a positive work environment for everyone involved. For example, if two employees have a different opinion about the best way to handle a project and begin to divide the team, it’s crucial to step in and close the gap. Listening to both sides and mediating a compromise between the employees will help everyone move forward.
Stress and heavy workloads can affect team morale and threaten productivity. When you’re managing teams, it’s critical you remain aware of your direct reports’ wellbeing and consistently drive them to do their best. To effectively motivate your team, it’s important to set a good example and empower them to achieve personal objectives. Take time to find out each employee’s ambitions and then help them gain the skills they need to reach those goals. For example, if you know an employee is interested in pursuing a more senior role, give them the opportunity to lead meetings and projects so they can develop their leadership skills.
Leaders are responsible for making many decisions. These range from large decisions, like hiring a new team member, to small choices, like selecting a meeting time. The faster and more active you are in your decision-making, the better you’ll be able to earn your team’s trust and confidence. To improve this skill, it’s essential to quickly collect all the information you need, weigh potential outcomes and trust your experience and instincts as your guides. For example, if you’re deciding between two possible candidates for an open position on your team, you’ll want to consider their experience and skills as well as how their personality traits align with the company culture. Becoming a great leader comes with experience, but developing these seven skills will help in managing teams of all sizes to be more productive, effective and fulfilled in their work.