4 Fundamental Leadership Skills

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About the Author: Karina Olivares

Developing leadership skills is an important and necessary process in today’s workplace. For most of us, there will be a point in your career when you’re going to be asked to take the lead in an initiative or be offered a higher position earlier than expected.

As this new opportunity comes about, you may wonder, “What are some key leadership skills I need to form a strong foundation?” At the start of my career, I thought you had to be the industry expert to be eligible to lead. Though knowledge is useful, the reality is that you must have people skills.

Here are the four fundamental skills I’ve learned during my time with the Chamber.

Treat Others the Way You Want to Be Treated

Remember the Golden Rule: “Treat others the way you want to be treated.” This is important! The way you treat people in general is key to success. Think about your most popular friend or someone that you admire. What is it about that person that makes them popular or what qualities do they possess that you like? It’s likely you are attracted to that person because of the way they treat you and others. Learn to emulate their good qualities; observe how they talk and interact with others. You don’t need to try to be the exact same person, just develop your own leadership style by observing what works for others.

Share What You Know

As you’re gathering some best practices and getting your feet wet in your leadership role, be sure to share what you know with others. I remember when I discovered Pinterest! It was life changing! I learned new recipes, redecorated my home and did a ton of DIY projects. I love it! When we share with others what we know, it can stimulate vision in others. In the workplace it can also reinforce professional relationships. Everybody has their own unique set of skills, knowledge and experience, so why not share them with others? At work, try and make time to share and exchange ideas with your colleagues. You will be amazed at how much you can learn and how you can innovate your own ideas. Plus, think about the valuable contribution you will make to the organization. The best leaders share their knowledge with others while creating a positive impact on the organization.

Adopt a Flexible Style

Because we live in a world that is constantly changing, being flexible is a skill you need as a leader. Just like in fitness, flexibility is crucial in preventing injury and increasing performance. Flexibility in the workplace is no different. Give yourself and others a little wiggle room as you work toward becoming effective, high performing individuals. Not everybody will respond to directions in the same way, so being flexible with the needs of all individuals in your organization is essential. By being flexible you will build employee trust, commitment and admiration.

Accept & Give Feedback

Last, but certainly not least, it’s important to have an open mind when receiving feedback and be respectful when giving it. If receiving feedback is difficult for you, then don’t wait around to receive it, go ask for it! To make improvements in any role or task, you need feedback. You should always be thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better. When someone is generous enough to give feedback, make sure you listen carefully and take notes. On the same token, give good constructive feedback to help others around you. Have you heard of the “sandwich method” of feedback, where you squish criticism between compliments to smooth it over? Don’t use it, just be honest. Remember there is a difference in being honest and brutally honest. When giving your opinion remember the purpose of the feedback, it’s to help improve others not to make yourself feel superior.

Finding and developing a solid foundation of leadership skills takes time but, shouldn’t be difficult. The most effective leadership skills are those close to your core values. Once you know them… practice them. Keep building on your skills and never stop learning.

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