Leadership skills are among the most in-demand soft skills out there.
Being a good leader comes in handy for basically any type of job, from managers to junior professionals.
In managerial positions, leadership skills allow you to inspire your team members, motivate them, and bring the best out of them.
Even if you’re not a manager, you can still leverage leadership skills to build rapport with your coworkers, foster trust, and create a positive work environment.
In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about leadership, from what are the most effective leadership skills, to how to highlight them in your resume!
Read on to learn:
- Why Do Leadership Skills Matter in the Workplace?
- 10 Leadership Skills You Need in 2023
- 5 Ways to Identify Your Leadership Style
- How to Add Leadership Skills to Your Resume
And more! Let’s dive in.
What Are Leadership Skills?
Leadership skills are the individual abilities, processes, and methods that one can use to motivate, inspire and steer others toward achieving their goals.
Leadership skills can come in handy for all sorts of situations. They can:
- Get you promoted to a managerial role
- Help you motivate your team to do well on a university project
- Make it easier for you to achieve personal and professional goals
More than anywhere else, though, leadership skills come in handy in the workplace. According to this Bloomberg “Job Skills” report, leadership skills are among the rarest soft skills that companies want the most.
But what is it exactly that makes leadership skills so important in the workplace?
Why Do Leadership Skills Matter in the Workplace?
We are used to thinking that leadership skills are required only for high-level positions - CEOs, managers, team leaders, etc.
While that’s definitely true, anyone can benefit from having strong leadership skills, from junior professionals to students.
Even if you’re not personally in charge of a team, leadership skills help you establish rapport with your teammates, motivate them, and overall, create a very pleasant and positive work environment.
Here are some reasons why leadership skills matter in the workplace:
- Positive work environment. Good leaders foster communication, promote diversity, and are able to resolve conflicts, all of which contribute to a positive work environment.
- Better motivation. A competent leader is able to motivate and inspire those around them to reach their highest potential.
- Higher talent retention. 7 out of 10 C-suite executives say kind leadership is vital to recruiting and retaining talent. And 83% of workers agree, saying that “kind leadership is more important than ever when choosing a job.”
- Employee growth. People with leadership skills are typically able to recognize and encourage talent, helping their teammates develop personally and professionally.
- Improved teamwork. Competent leaders bring the best out of the teams they’re working with, allowing them to collaborate with each other more successfully.
10 Leadership Skills You Need in 2023
Leadership is not a single skill, but rather a combination of several different skills. Together, these skills can make a great leader.
Here are the most in-demand leadership skills in 2023:
Communication is arguably the most important leadership skill.
In a nutshell, communication skills involve being able to convey one’s point and understand others, often by listening to them attentively and reading their body language.
The better a leader’s communication skills, the more will the people around them be able to understand them, trust them, and perform their tasks.
If you’re a team leader with strong communication skills, then you’re someone who can explain each team member’s role clearly, delegate tasks in a detailed manner, encourage everyone to speak their minds, and define the team’s goals and purpose effectively.
Here are some communication skills that every great leader needs:
- Active listening
- Written communication
- Public speaking
- Body language
- Presentation skills
Empathy is the ability to put yourself in other people’s shoes, as well as understand and share their feelings.
For leaders, empathy is an important skill that allows them to connect with people emotionally and see their perspectives on different issues.
Let’s say, for example, that you’re a project manager and the majority of your employees consist of working moms. If you’re an empathetic leader, you’d be more sympathetic if they happen to miss a deadline due to family responsibilities (even if you yourself are not a working mom).
People value empathetic leaders for being able to walk a mile in other people’s shoes and regarding the people around them with compassion and openness.
Not every creative person is a leader, but leaders do tend to be creative.
Good leaders need to be able to think outside the box, inspire innovation, and allow the free flow of ideas. On top of that, they should be able to motivate others to think creatively too by encouraging them to brainstorm, speak their minds, and experiment.
A creative leader also has the following qualities:
- Critical thinking
#4. Conflict Resolution
It goes without saying that to be a successful leader, you should be able to prevent conflict or resolve it in case it happens, all the while remaining clear-headed and neutral.
Let’s say that you’re an office manager and two of your employees have gotten into an argument over their tasks and responsibilities. As a leader, you should mediate the conflict resolution process between them to ensure that they come to an agreement and the conflict doesn't spiral out of control.
Generally speaking, good leaders are able to foster a work environment where everyone feels heard, included, and valued. If conflict is unavoidable, they do their best to resolve it as swiftly and effectively as possible, taking into consideration the best interests of everyone involved.
Some conflict resolution skills include:
- Emotional intelligence
- Interpersonal skills
Leaders need organizational skills to be able to handle their workload and responsibilities effectively.
This includes both internal organizational skills (such as goal setting, decision making, and strategic thinking) and external organizational skills (e.g. documentation, prioritization, etc.).
Let’s say, for example, that you’re the head of a department and heavily rely on your assistant to organize every aspect of your work. While they may be able to help with basic physical organization, such as filing, documentation, and record-keeping, you’ll need to be organized yourself to ensure that things in your department run like clockwork.
If you’re not, you won’t be able to prioritize tasks based on their importance, plan out the department’s work ahead of time, set goals, or make good decisions.
Here are some other organizational skills any good leader should have:
- Decision making
- Strategic thinking
- Goal setting
A good leader isn’t someone who does everything on their own, but rather someone who knows how to delegate tasks and responsibilities effectively.
Being able to delegate involves understanding people’s strengths and skills and assigning them tasks accordingly, to get them to grow professionally and to get things done in the most effective way possible.
Delegation, though, doesn’t just help with getting things done well and fast. Good leaders delegate tasks to other team members to also build rapport and to make them feel valued and trusted.
Integrity means being honest and having strong moral principles that lead your personal and professional life.
Having integrity is what makes the difference between a leader who takes the high road and someone who is only after their own interests.
For example, a leader with integrity is someone who will speak out against injustice at the workplace (e.g. if an employee is being treated unfairly) or someone who will make an ethical decision instead of a profitable one (e.g. refusing to work with a toxic client).
Generally, leaders with integrity are respected and valued even outside of the workplace.
Being able to mentor others is an important leadership skill.
Mentorship involves teaching, guiding, and even challenging coworkers, in turn, helping them grow professionally.
Leaders who are capable mentors are typically people who prioritize the success of their team over their personal achievements. They also usually have the following qualities:
- Giving Feedback
#9. Relationship Building
Also referred to as team building, this skill involves creating and maintaining a cooperative team of people working together toward a common goal.
Relationship building involves the ongoing process of exchanging information, ideas, and resources, as well as establishing strong ties among coworkers or with clients.
If you’re skilled in relationship building, this means you’re approachable, friendly, and empathetic, as well as that you’re supportive of team members even if they make mistakes.
In a nutshell, relationship building is about balancing the need for results with the desire to foster strong relationships in the workplace.
A good leader is a reliable leader.
If your coworkers or subordinates cannot depend on you to instruct them, guide them, give them feedback, or inspire them, they will likely have a hard time regarding you as their leader.
As such, reliability is key if you want people to trust you and your leadership abilities. A reliable leader also depicts the following qualities:
9 Popular Leadership Styles
A leadership style refers to the methods a leader uses to direct, motivate, or manage others.
Your leadership style is what ultimately defines your leadership strategy, including how you implement plans, handle problems, and respond to changes.
Here are the nine most popular leadership styles out there:
- Transformational. This style focuses on change and transformation. Such leaders tap into people’s individual potential and encourage them to change to achieve long-term goals and objectives.
- Hands-off. Also known as the laissez-faire style, this type of leader prefers to delegate tasks to team members with little to no supervision.
- Democratic. A combination between the laissez-faire and the autocratic leader, a democratic leader asks for and considers team members’ input and feedback before making decisions.
- Visionary. Visionary leaders, also called authoritative leaders, establish themselves as “mentors” and inspire others to follow them by earning their trust, providing guidance, and motivating them.
- Pacesetter. Perfect for past-faced environments and companies who want to achieve fast results, the pacesetter leader is someone who is primarily concerned with performance, sets high standards, and holds team members accountable.
- Servant. Leaders who follow a servant leadership style believe that when their subordinates are personally and professionally satisfied, they’re more likely to be productive and hard-working.
- Autocratic. Autocratic leaders care about results and efficiency. Oftentimes, they don’t consult anyone but a small number of people or experts to make decisions.
- Coaching. These leaders are good at identifying people’s strengths, weaknesses, and driving forces to help them improve. Coaching leaders help team members set smart goals and provide regular feedback to help them achieve them.
- Transactional. Also known as managerial style, this type of leadership is based on a reward and punishment system. These leaders depend on such systems assuming that employees don’t have the required motivation to complete their tasks.
5 Ways to Identify Your Leadership Style
Wondering what YOUR leadership style is? There are some easy ways to find out.
First and foremost, you want to think of your values to make sure your leadership style feels authentic to you.
So, while considering the above-mentioned styles, ask yourself these questions:
- Do I value goals or relationships more?
- Is structure more effective than freedom of choice in the workplace?
- Do I focus on short-term or long-term goals?
- Do I make decisions collectively or individually?
- Do I want to empower or direct those around me?
Afterward, follow these 4 steps:
- Experiment. Try different approaches in various situations and see how they play out. Be flexible about changing your methods.
- Ask for feedback. Asking for honest feedback from people you care about will help you become a better leader and own your leadership style.
- Seek a mentor. Leaders with more experience than you can give you great insight into how they developed their leadership styles over the years.
- Be authentic. No matter what you do, make sure the leadership style you choose aligns with who you are as a person. For example, believing in structure and order but trying to adopt a hands-off approach will likely not work for you or your team in the long run.
How to Add Your Leadership Skills to Your Resume
You may have strong leadership skills, but unless you’re able to highlight them in your resume, there’s no way for the hiring manager to know this.
Below, we’ll show you exactly how to add your leadership skills to your resume to improve your odds of landing your dream job!
Before we do that, though, pick one of our free, tried-and-tested resume templates and fill it in as you go:
#1. Mention Your Leadership Skills in Your Resume Summary
The resume summary is a two or three-sentence long paragraph that sits at the top of your resume and mentions:
- Your professional title and years of experience
- Your top skills (hard skills or soft skills)
- One or two noteworthy accomplishments
Done right, your resume summary can show the hiring manager that you’re a qualified candidate from the get-go and get them to read the rest of your resume in detail.
As such, it’s the first place to highlight your leadership skills.
You can do that either by mentioning them among your top skills or by mentioning an accomplishment that proves that you have them.
Here is an example of how you can incorporate your leadership skills into your resume summary:
- Dedicated high school principal with over ten years of experience teaching and managing daily operations. Strong leadership skills with a focus on relationship building, creativity, and mentorship. Worked closely with teachers in my last school to build student success and performance, which led to 95% of students getting accepted into college.
#2. Add Leadership Skills Under Your Soft Skills
Second, add your leadership skills under your resume’s skills section.
This part’s quite straightforward - create a section divided into soft skills and hard skills and add your leadership skills underneath.
That said, you don’t want to overkill the skills section by including each and every leadership skill we covered here. Not only will the hiring manager have trouble believing you possess all of them, but you probably don’t even need all those skills, to begin with.
To make sure your skills section is as relevant as possible, here’s what you need to do:
- Check the job description to spot the exact skills required for the job. For an office management position, for example, the job ad may specifically require mentorship, relationship building, and management skills.
- Identify the leadership skills that you possess and that you can back up with actual experience from your previous jobs.
- Add the skills you’ve identified under your soft skills.
#3. Prove Your Leadership Skills in Your Work Experience Section
Last but not least, use the work experience section to prove that you actually possess leadership skills.
After all, just about anyone can claim they’re a great leader. Not everyone can back that up with experience.
Here’s how you can convey that you have leadership skills and make your work experience section as impactful as possible:
- Tailor your work experience to the job. Only include past positions that are relevant to the job you’re applying for now. If you’re applying for a position as, say, a management consultant, the hiring manager will be interested in your previous experience as a general manager, but not in the time you spent waiting tables in college.
- Focus on your achievements. Impress the hiring manager by showing how you made an impact with your achievements, instead of solely focusing on your responsibilities.
- Make your achievements quantifiable. Whenever you can, make your achievements as quantifiable as possible. You can use the following formula to do so: “accomplished X as measured by Y doing Z.”
And here are some examples of an achievement-oriented work experience section that highlights the candidate’s leadership skills:
- Managed a department of 20 staff members, using a reward system and engagement tactics that decreased employee turnover by 14%.
- Gave continuous recognition, feedback, and guidance to team members, increasing morale and improving team performance significantly.
- Resolved internal conflicts by mediating the conflict resolution processes, in turn decreasing company lost time by 7%.
And that’s a wrap on leadership skills!
Before you go, here are the main points we covered in this article:
- Leadership skills are the abilities and methods that one can use to motivate, inspire and steer others toward achieving their goals.
- Some leadership skills include communication, conflict resolution, reliability, and integrity.
- The most common leadership styles out there include the autocratic style, the democratic style, the transformational style, and the visionary style.
- To find your leadership style, you should experiment, ask more seasoned professionals about their experiences, and seek honest feedback.
- To highlight your leadership skills, mention them in your resume summary, list them under your soft skills, and prove them in your work experience section.