What makes a good leader? The answer varies widely depending on who you ask, with researchers disagreeing on the critical components that go into the most effective corporate chief. But there are traits they do agree on, including personality components and acquired skills. Some believe even the situation for leadership itself has a bearing on the effectiveness of the leader.
Important Leadership Skills
Commitment, resolve and perseverance - driving every aspect of the organization toward a singular unified purpose.
Risk-taking - breaking conventions and developing new products and services to establish marketplace dominance (and possibly even create a unique market).
Planning - though a leader typically doesn't get too involved in the details, he or she must orchestrate a high-level plan that drives everyone toward the unified goal.
Motivating - an effective leader must be able to encourage contributions from the entire organization, navigating the specific motivators of each individual or group to push the right buttons and inspire employees at every level to achieve not only their personal best but the best for the organization as a whole.
Communication skills that rely on active listening - far more than just being able to speak and write persuasively, leadership communication skills incite others to work toward the stated goal in line with the path the leader has chosen.
Possessing or obtaining the skills required to successfully achieve business goals - bringing a unique knowledge set to the table or acquiring it personally or through employees and other subordinates.
What Makes These Individual Skills So Important?
First, a distinction needs to be made: the difference between a leader and a manager. A leader is someone who does the right thing, whereas a manager does things right. Or to put it another way, management is an occupation, leadership is a calling.
As addressed in the list above, this calling demands a unique vision for success and the tools necessary to communicate and implement that vision. The leader must possess a set of clearly-defined convictions and the daring and skill to translate their vision into a reality. This is why many people believe, as seen in What Motivates True Leaders, that the most successful development of leadership skills takes place when the leader is geared toward the development of individuals or social constructs. This foundation creates a drive and a passion that many believe cannot be replicated or faked in situations where the leader is concerned solely with financial returns.
With effective leadership, all participants within the organization are confident someone they know is working towards the greater good, both on their behalf personally and that of the company, as well as the larger impact created by the specific product or service. And within this system, one of the most critical elements to success is a leader in whom they can place their trust. That's because true leadership is about taking people to places they would not or could not go on their own. And achieving that level of loyalty and dedication is next to impossible without the genuine allegiance inspired by true leadership skills.