So, what are the skills great leaders have? Great question!

Recently, I was asked to share why I’m drawn to the work of personal and professional development.  The easy answer is I have Learner in my Top 5 Strengths but, the real answer is I know how life-changing investment in yourself can be. 

One of my favorite quotes is by Aristotle; “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom”.  That could not be more true.  If you want to know the skills great leaders have, it starts with you. It’s being introspective enough to know your strengths and where you need help. It’s being brave enough to ask for help and humble enough to accept it.  

Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom…


Early Days of Professional Development

Within my first few months of working for a large corporation, I realized I was surrounded by people far smarter than I was and ashamed of only having a high school diploma I pursued my Associate’S degree to close the knowledge gap.  Feeling supported by my managers I went on to complete my Bachelor’s while traveling 70% and raising two kids.  But, development is more than a college education, it is the endless pursuit of the skills, talents, and abilities to be able to handle whatever life throws at you.    

I have often said I would follow my favorite leaders into a burning building. Average leaders are a dime a dozen but, GREAT leaders are harder to find. Good leaders keep employees but, great leaders inspire employees to be more than they ever thought they could be.    

Good leaders keep employees but, great leaders inspire employees to be more than they ever thought they could be.

When I was asked about why I focus on developing the next level of leaders and my dedication to helping the team reach high performance, I thought back to the skills of the best leaders I know.  I considered why I would have followed them into a burning building and why they inspired me to continue my endless journey of learning and development.  Here’s my list of the 8 skills every great leader should possess. 


8 Skills Great Leaders Have

  1. Be Innovative – You must be a creative and innovative problem solver, today’s problems are complex.  You will need to think differently to find new ways to solve today’s problems. One of my favorite managers of all time would say “don’t bring me a problem without having thought through a possible solution.”  I gladly passed those words down to my kids.  
  2. Be Introspective – Know thy self.  The ability to look within and recognize how you can improve is the first step. As a great leader, you have to walk the walk and talk the talk.  Start with yourself.
  3. Inspire Others – Will your team follow you into a burning building?  Do you inspire them to be their best?  As a great leader, your ability to inspire your team to reach peak performance for the company, is good but, your ability to inspire your team to reach peak performance for themselves is better.  
  4. Invest in others – Focus on coaching, mentoring and developing your team and others.  By developing others, you are also developing yourself.  Accept employees may move on to new roles because of your ability to coach up.  This may be the best reward of being a great leader.
  5. Be Your Team’s Biggest Fan – There’s nothing worse than throwing your team under the bus to save yourself.  I was lucky to work for leaders that had my back and in turn I had theirs. Defend your team when other people, managers or departments criticize them.
  6.  Be Strategic – Work to develop a strategic perspective.  Think in both small short term wins and large long term wins.  Your ability to remain strategic, making those key choices to advance the organization forward, will be critical to your leadership success.  Being strategic enables you to stay steps ahead of your competition and will help you anticipate change.
  7. Execute – You can have all the charisma in the world, the best employees on your team with the best strategy ever designed but, it’s all for nothing if you cannot execute.  Great leaders can execute, pure and simple. 
  8. Communicate – Communicate your ideas clearly, everyone on your team should know the vision and the road-map to getting it done.  You have the power to influence others with just your words.  Your ability to articulate your thoughts will ensure your team is marching to the beat of the same drum.

Quick Activity!

Grab a pen and write down the names of your favorite leaders. Now, make a second list of the skills great leaders have. Match those skills to the names of your favorite leaders.

Great leaders are not born they are developed into it.  Invest in yourself and invest in your team.  

Question:  What leadership skills do you think every leader should possess?

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