In my last article, 7 Key Abilities of 21st Century Leaders, I described some of the abilities that I believe leaders should develop in themselves and others, in order to be effective now and in the future.
In this article, I continue with 7 more abilities that require interaction with others. In considering these leadership abilities, it is important to realize that they also require a great deal of internal work and typically involve an iterative process to develop.
- Engender trust – Steven Covey taught us that trust is the “one thing that changes everything.” I believe that, without trust, it is impossible to lead for the long term. And trust can be very fragile. Understanding how trust happens, how to build it, maintain it and how to restore it when it has been lost, is a worthy field of study for anyone in a leadership position or with the aspiration to be the best leader possible.
- Inspire the best in people – Creating the type of environment where people can do their best work and make their best contribution, is central to the responsibility of leaders. The best leaders are able to bring out the best in others, to challenge them, to create aspirations for continual growth and development.
- Connect – The ability to connect sits at the very foundation of the ability to lead. The best leaders are connected to their own purpose and to their core values and this, in turn, allows them to connect with others in a way that is authentic and believable. And before you can influence others, before you can lead others, there has to be a connection with them. There has to be something that creates a willingness on their part to follow and support the vision and the goal.
- Build Relationships – Once an initial connection is made, building a solid relationship enables progress and supports the achievement of results. Without solid relationships, it becomes more difficult to overcome challenges. Relationships are based on trust and without trust, things take longer and carry a greater cost.
- Collaboration – In today’s business environment, the skills of collaboration are more important than ever. There are more informal and transactional partnerships that are required in order to achieve desired results both internally and externally to the organization. The skills around creating win / win solutions are essential to survival within the increasing pace of change and challenge.
- Influence – The ability to influence is central to the definition of leadership. John Maxwell says that leadership is influence – nothing more, nothing less. Learning to expand your level of influence with people – and to do that in a way that inspires trust – is ultimately what learning to lead is all about.
- Uncommon Communication — We all recognize the importance of communication in leadership. The best leaders, however, have an uncommon ability to effectively get their message across. They do this by truly understanding the needs and wants of their audiences or teams because they have extraordinary listening skills and because they understand the importance of their position as role models.
Together, these comprise what I believe to be the most important abilities for leaders to cultivate in themselves and others. This takes deliberate, intentional commitment to one’s development. These are life skills, not only from the perspective that they contribute to increasing the impact and influence one can have in life, but also because they can continue to develop throughout life.
Measuring your ability in each of these areas on a regular basis is one way to contribute to your progress as a leader over time and to build your effectiveness and your impact as a leader.
What are your thoughts on these abilities? What has been your experience and what may be missing for you? I welcome your feedback, questions and comments.