– Part 1

For a business to be successful all its individual members need to work together toward a common goal – that of the growth and success of the company. This requires good leadership and management. The organisation needs people, at different levels, to take the lead, motivate, direct, and even reward the hard work being done by everyone. If you are a company owner, or leader of an organisation, or manage a smaller team of co-workers, do you have all the vital skills needed to be a successful leader?

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I have recognised some 15 vital skills you need to be a successful leader. What are they? How can you develop them? Why are they so important?

In this article, we will discuss the first 5 of those all-important skills, namely…

In future posts, we will discuss the other 10, namely…

  • Time Management
  • Emotional Intelligence (EI)
  • Change Management
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Motivation and Inspiration
  • Ethical Leadership
  • Adaptability and Innovation
  • Performance Management
  • Mentoring and Coaching
  • Crisis Management

In this post I will employ a “bullet-point-format”, or should it be called “list-format”? Let me know in your comments what you think of this kind of format / style. Is it easier, or harder, to find the information you’re looking for? Is it easier, or harder, to digest the information offered? Looking forward to your comments…

Right. Let’s get started with considering the different…

Leadership Styles

To be an effective leader you need to understand the different leadership styles that exist, such as transformational, transactional, charismatic, and servant leadership. You also need to be able to identify which approach aligns best with your values and organisational goals. 

Let’s delve into the key characteristics, development approaches, and considerations for the aforementioned leadership style. 

Transformational Leadership

What Are the Characteristics

Inspiration – Transformational leaders inspire and motivate their followers by creating a compelling vision of the future. 

Intellectual Stimulation – Encouraging innovation and creativity among followers by challenging assumptions and fostering a culture of continuous learning. 

Individual Consideration – Recognizing and catering to the individual needs and strengths of followers. 

How to Develop

Visionary Thinking – Develop a clear and compelling vision for the future and communicate it effectively. 

Emotional Intelligence – Understand and connect with the emotions of others, fostering a positive and motivated team. 

Empowerment – Encourage autonomy and provide opportunities for personal and professional growth. 

When to Choose

Applicability -Effective in dynamic and innovative environments. 

Team Dynamics – Ideal for teams that require creativity and adaptability. 

Long-Term Goals – Suited for leaders focusing on long-term organizational development. 

Transactional Leadership

What Are the Characteristics

Contingent Rewards – Rewarding followers based on performance and achieving specific goals. 

Management by Exception – Intervening only when there are deviations from expected performance. 

Clear Structure – Providing clear guidelines and structure to followers. 

How to Develop

Goal Setting – Clearly define expectations and goals for followers. 

Performance Monitoring  – Develop systems to monitor and measure performance. 

Rewards System – Establish fair and transparent reward systems. 

When to Choose

Task-Oriented Environments – Suitable for environments where tasks are routine and require precision. 

Short-Term Goals – Effective for achieving short-term objectives and immediate results. 

Clear Expectations – Best when followers benefit from clear expectations and consequences. 

Charismatic Leadership

What Are the Characteristics

Inspiration and Enthusiasm – Charismatic leaders inspire enthusiasm and commitment through their personality and vision. 

Confidence – Demonstrating high levels of self-confidence and conviction. 

Persuasion – Using persuasive communication to influence and motivate others. 

How to Develop

Communication Skills – Enhance verbal and non-verbal communication to create a strong presence.

Visionary Thinking – Develop and communicate a compelling vision for the future. 

Emotional Intelligence – Understand and connect with the emotions of followers. 

When to Choose

Innovative Environments – Effective in situations that require bold ideas and a passionate approach. 

Crisis Situations – Charismatic leaders often excel in leading during crises. 

Engagement – Suitable when engagement and buy-in from followers are crucial. 

Servant Leadership

What Are the Characteristics

Empathy – Putting the needs of others first and empathizing with their concerns. 

Listening Skills – Actively listening to followers and considering their input. 

Community Building – Fostering a sense of community and collaboration. 

How to Develop

Empathy Training – Enhance the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. 

Communication Skills – Develop effective communication skills, with an emphasis on listening. 

Community Engagement – Foster a collaborative and supportive team environment. 

When to Choose

Team-Centric Roles – Suited for leaders in roles focused on team development and support. 

Ethical Environments – Effective in organizations with a strong emphasis on ethical practices. 

Long-Term Relationships – Ideal for leaders aiming to build long-term, mutually beneficial relationships. 

How to Choose the Most Applicable Leadership Style

Keep in mind that effective leaders often incorporate elements of multiple styles based on the circumstances. Here’s some more advice on how to choose the most suitable style of leadership or management in various situations.

1. Assess the Organizational Context Consider the nature of the organization, its culture, and the specific challenges it faces. 

2. Understand the Team Dynamics Analyse the needs and characteristics of the team. Consider the level of experience, skills, and the type of tasks involved. 

3. Evaluate Personal Strengths Reflect on your own strengths, preferences, and leadership philosophy. Choose a style that aligns with your values and strengths. 

4. Adapt to Situational Needs Recognize that different situations may require different leadership styles. A flexible leader adapts their approach based on the context. 

5. Seek Feedback Regularly seek feedback from team members to understand the effectiveness of your leadership style and make adjustments as needed. A team works better if they know that their thoughts and concerns are taken into consideration.

The key is to be adaptable and authentic in your leadership approach while considering the needs of both the organization and its members. The Centre of Excellence offers a Business Management course that will help to prepare you so that your new business has the best possible chance of success.

Another very important aspect of good leadership and management is having good…

Communication Skills

Effective communication is crucial for business leaders for several reasons, as you will see below. But how do you improve your communication skills? How do you become better at public speaking, active listening, and non-verbal communication? We will look at all these questions in just a moment. We will also briefly touch on written communication, as well as how to utilise feedback in order to be adaptable.

Let’s start by examining why effective communication is crucial for business leaders. 

1. Clarity of Vision and Goals Leaders must articulate a clear vision and communicate organizational goals to ensure that everyone understands the direction and purpose of the business. 

2. Team Collaboration Clear communication fosters a collaborative environment where team members can share ideas, provide feedback, and work together towards common objectives. 

3. Conflict Resolution Leaders need strong communication skills to address conflicts promptly and find constructive resolutions. Open communication helps in preventing misunderstandings and resolving issues before they escalate. 

4. Employee Engagement Engaging and motivating employees requires effective communication. Managers who can convey appreciation, recognition, and encouragement contribute to a positive work culture. 

5. Innovation and Creativity Leaders must encourage open communication to stimulate innovation. By fostering an environment where ideas are freely exchanged, leaders can drive creativity and problem-solving. 

6. Decision-Making Clear communication is essential during the decision-making process. Managers must convey the rationale behind decisions, ensuring that team members understand and support the chosen course of action. 

How to Improve Communication Skills in the Business Environment

In the business environment a leader or manager often have to engage in public speaking. This may take place in front of just perhaps 3 or 4 team members. In larger enterprises you may have to speak in front of audiences numbering in the hundreds. This off course may prove to be a daunting task.

I have previously published an extensive article on public speaking, which you can find here. I will therefore, this time, only highlight some of the key steps for improving your communications skills.

You don’t necessarily need to “set the house on fire” as a public speaker! Some basic skills are needed though… Image by Marcin Paśnicki from Pixabay

Public Speaking

Practice Regularly – Regular practice builds confidence and helps refine delivery. 

Seek Feedback – Request constructive feedback from peers or mentors to identify areas for improvement. 

Utilize Visuals – Incorporate visuals to enhance presentations and make complex ideas more easily understood. “A picture paints a thousand words”!

Record and Analyse – Record speeches or presentations to review and identify areas for improvement. 

Active Listening

Give Full Attention – Focus on the speaker, avoid distractions, and give your full attention. 

Ask Clarifying Questions – Seek clarification to ensure you understand the speaker’s message accurately. 

Paraphrase and Summarize – Repeat key points to confirm understanding and show that you are actively engaged. 

Eliminate Assumptions – Avoid making assumptions and approach each conversation with an open mind. 

Non-Verbal Communication

Body Language – Be aware of your body language, as it conveys a significant part of your message. 

Eye Contact – Maintain appropriate eye contact to establish trust and demonstrate attentiveness. 

Facial Expressions – Use facial expressions to convey emotions that complement your spoken words. 

Gestures – Employ purposeful gestures to emphasize key points and add dynamism to your communication. 

Written Communication

Clarity and Conciseness – Clearly convey your message with concise and well-organized written communication. 

Audience Consideration – Tailor your written communication to the needs and expectations of your audience. 

Proofreading – Review written documents for grammar, spelling, and clarity before sharing them. 

Use of Technology – Leverage technology tools for effective written communication, such as email, messaging apps, and collaborative platforms. 

Feedback and Adaptability

Seek Feedback – Actively seek feedback from colleagues, team members, or mentors to identify areas for improvement.

Adapt to Your Audience – Adjust your communication style based on the preferences and communication styles of your audience.

Continuous Learning – Engage in ongoing learning opportunities, such as workshops or courses, to refine and expand your communication skills. 

Improving communication skills is an ongoing process that requires self-awareness, practice, and a willingness to adapt. Business leaders who prioritize effective communication contribute to a positive organizational culture and set the stage for successful collaboration and achievement of business objectives. 

The 3rd of our 15 vital skills you need to be a successful leader is…

Team Building

In this section we will look at learning strategies for building and leading high-performing teams, fostering collaboration, and managing conflicts within a team. All very useful and important skills to possess.

Building and leading high-performing teams requires a combination of strategic planning, effective communication, and conflict management skills. Here are strategies for fostering collaboration and managing conflicts within a team: 

Strategies for Building High-Performing Teams 

1. Define Clear Goals and Objectives 

   – Establish specific, measurable, and achievable goals for the team. 

   – Communicate the purpose and vision of the team to inspire commitment. 

2. Establish Team Roles and Responsibilities 

   – Clearly define roles and responsibilities for each team member. 

   – Ensure that roles align with individual strengths and expertise. 

3. Promote Open Communication 

   – Encourage open dialogue and create a culture where team members feel comfortable expressing ideas and concerns. 

   – Utilize communication tools and platforms to facilitate collaboration. 

4. Cultivate a Positive Team Culture 

   – Foster a positive and inclusive team culture that values diversity and promotes mutual respect. 

   – Celebrate achievements and recognize individual and team contributions. 

5. Encourage Team Bonding 

   – Facilitate team-building activities to strengthen relationships and build trust. 

   – Foster a sense of camaraderie through social events and shared experiences. 

6. Provide Opportunities for Professional Development 

   – Support continuous learning and growth by offering training and development opportunities. 

   – Foster an environment where team members can expand their skills and expertise. 

Strategies for Fostering Collaboration 

1. Establish a Collaborative Environment 

   – Create a physical or virtual workspace that encourages collaboration and teamwork. 

   – Use collaborative tools and technologies to facilitate information sharing. 

2. Promote Cross-Functional Collaboration 

   – Encourage collaboration across different departments and functions within the organization. 

   – Break down silos by promoting interdepartmental projects and initiatives. 

3. Facilitate Team Meetings 

   – Conduct regular team meetings to discuss goals, progress, and challenges. 

   – Provide a platform for team members to share updates and insights. 

4. Encourage Knowledge Sharing 

   – Foster a culture of knowledge sharing by recognizing and rewarding individuals who contribute valuable insights. 

   – Establish platforms for sharing best practices, lessons learned, and success stories. 

5. Utilize Team-building Exercises 

   – Incorporate collaborative exercises and workshops to enhance teamwork and problem-solving skills. 

   – Encourage brainstorming sessions to generate creative ideas. 

Strategies for Managing Conflicts within a Team 

1. Address Issues Promptly 

   – Deal with conflicts as soon as they arise to prevent escalation. 

   – Foster an open-door policy where team members feel comfortable raising concerns. 

2. Promote Active Listening 

   – Ensure that team members actively listen to each other’s perspectives. 

   – Use reflective listening techniques to demonstrate understanding. 

3. Establish Clear Conflict Resolution Processes 

   – Develop and communicate clear conflict resolution procedures. 

   – Provide training on conflict resolution skills to team members and leaders. 

4. Mediation and Facilitation 

   – Use neutral mediators or facilitators to help resolve conflicts objectively. 

   – Facilitate open discussions to identify common ground and potential solutions. 

5. Encourage Empathy 

   – Foster a culture of empathy where team members understand and appreciate each other’s viewpoints. 

   – Promote empathy-building activities and training. 

6. Learn from Conflicts 

   – View conflicts as opportunities for growth and improvement. 

   – Conduct post-conflict reviews to identify root causes and implement preventive measures. 

7. Set a Positive Example 

   – Demonstrate positive conflict resolution behaviours as a leader. 

   – Model effective communication and compromise. 

Due to differing views and personalities, conflicts are bound to happen. Do you have the skills to manage a conflict? Photo by Yan Krukau

By implementing these strategies, you can, as a leader, create an environment that promotes collaboration, addresses conflicts constructively, and nurtures the development of high-performing teams. Consistent communication, trust-building, and a focus on continuous improvement are key elements in building and sustaining successful teams. 

The 4th of our 15 vital skills you need to be a successful leader is the ability of…


Here we will gain insight into the processes of decision-making, including how to make informed and timely decisions, as well as strategies for handling uncertainty and risk

Effective decision-making is a critical skill for people in managerial positions. It involves a structured process, the ability to analyse information, and the capacity to navigate uncertainty and manage risks. Here we look into the process of decision-making and strategies for handling uncertainty and risk in a successful way. 

Decision-Making Processes 

1. Define the Decision 

   – Clearly articulate the decision that needs to be made, ensuring a precise understanding of the problem or opportunity. 

2. Gather Relevant Information 

   – Collect relevant data and information related to the decision. Use both quantitative and qualitative sources. 

3. Identify Alternatives 

   – Generate a range of potential alternatives or solutions. Consider the pros and cons of each option. 

4. Evaluate Alternatives 

   – Assess the feasibility, risks, and potential outcomes associated with each alternative. 

   – Use criteria such as cost, impact, and alignment with organizational goals to evaluate options. 

5. Make the Decision 

   – Select the most appropriate alternative based on the evaluation. 

   – Consider involving key stakeholders or seeking input from relevant experts. 

6. Implement the Decision 

   – Develop an action plan for implementing the decision. 

   – Allocate resources, assign responsibilities, and establish a timeline. 

7. Monitor and Evaluate 

   – Continuously monitor the implementation of the decision. 

   – Evaluate the outcomes and adjust the approach if necessary. 

Strategies for Handling Uncertainty 

1. Risk Assessment 

   – Conduct a thorough risk assessment to identify potential uncertainties associated with each alternative. 

   – Prioritize risks based on their likelihood and potential impact. 

2. Scenario Planning 

   – Develop multiple scenarios to anticipate different outcomes and responses to uncertainties. 

   – Prepare contingency plans for each scenario. 

3. Flexibility in Decision-Making 

   – Build flexibility into the decision-making process to adapt to changing circumstances. 

   – Be open to revisiting and adjusting decisions as new information becomes available. 

4. Expert Consultation 

   – Seek input from experts or individuals with specialized knowledge in areas of uncertainty. 

   – Leverage the expertise of team members and stakeholders. 

5. Pilot Programs or Prototypes 

   – Implement small-scale pilot programs or prototypes to test the feasibility and effectiveness of a decision before full-scale implementation. 

   – Use feedback from pilot programs to make informed adjustments. 

Strategies for Managing Risk 

1. Risk Mitigation Strategies 

   – Develop strategies to mitigate identified risks, such as implementing safeguards, creating contingency plans, or diversifying resources. 

   – Prioritize risk mitigation efforts based on their potential impact. 

2. Risk Tolerance and Appetite 

   – Define the organization’s risk tolerance and appetite. 

   – Consider the acceptable level of risk when making decisions and setting goals. 

3. Quantitative Analysis 

   – Use quantitative analysis tools, such as cost-benefit analysis or risk assessment models, to quantify and compare potential risks and rewards. 

4. Decision Trees 

   – Utilize decision trees to visually map out potential outcomes and associated risks, helping in the evaluation of decision alternatives. (image)

A decision tree in the form of a flowchart can help you have strategies in place for minimizing risks. Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay

5. Regular Risk Reviews 

   – Conduct regular reviews of potential risks and reassess risk factors as the business environment evolves. 

   – Create a culture that encourages open communication about risks. 

6. Continuous Learning 

   – Learn from past experiences, both successes, and failures. 

   – Foster a culture of continuous learning and improvement to enhance future decision-making. 

Additional Considerations 

1. Ethical Considerations 

   – Ensure that decisions align with ethical principles and legal requirements. 

   – Evaluate the potential ethical implications of each alternative. 

2. Communication 

   – Communicate decisions transparently to relevant stakeholders, explaining the rationale behind them. 

   – Foster a culture of open communication to address concerns and gather feedback. 

3. Feedback Mechanisms 

   – Establish feedback mechanisms to gather insights from team members and stakeholders, facilitating continuous improvement in decision-making processes. 

Effective decision-making involves a balance between thorough analysis and the ability to act decisively. By implementing structured decision-making processes and employing strategies to handle uncertainty and manage risks, you can enhance your ability to make informed and timely decisions that contribute to organizational success. 

The 5th, and last one, of our 15 vital skills you need to be a successful leader considered in this post is the ability of being able to do…

Strategic Planning

In this last section I will attempt to help you understand the principles of strategic planning, goal-setting, and creating a vision for an organization, department, or project. (For a more in-depth discussion on strategic planning, see my earlier post on the subject: “A Beginner’s Guide to Business Strategy Planning – How To Do It”.)

Strategic planning is a very important process that involves defining an organization’s direction and making decisions on allocating its resources to pursue this direction. Here are the key principles of strategic planning, goal-setting, and vision-creation. 

Strategic Planning 

a. Environmental Analysis 

   – Conduct a thorough analysis of the external environment, including industry trends, market conditions, and potential opportunities and threats. 

   – Assess internal strengths and weaknesses to identify areas for improvement. 

b. Mission and Values 

   – Clearly define the organization’s mission, which is its fundamental purpose and reason for existence. 

   – Establish core values that guide decision-making and behaviour within the organization. 

c. SWOT Analysis 

   – Perform a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) to identify strategic factors that impact the organization. 

   – Use SWOT insights to inform the development of strategic goals. 

d. Goal Alignment 

   – Align strategic goals with the organization’s mission and values. 

   – Ensure that goals support the overall vision for the future. 

e. Resource Allocation 

   – Allocate resources effectively based on the prioritized strategic goals. 

   – Consider financial, human, and technological resources required for implementation. 

f. Continuous Review and Adaptation 

   – Regularly review and adapt the strategic plan in response to changes in the external environment or internal factors. 

   – Foster a culture of flexibility and adaptability within the organization. 


a. Specific and Measurable Goals 

   – Set specific and measurable goals that provide clarity and allow for progress tracking. 

   – Define key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure success. 

b. Achievable and Realistic Targets 

   – Ensure that goals are achievable and realistic within the given time frame. 

   – Consider the organization’s capabilities and available resources. 

c. Time-Bound Objectives 

   – Establish time-bound objectives with clear deadlines to create a sense of urgency and accountability. 

   – Break down long-term goals into smaller, manageable milestones. 

d. Cascading Goals 

   – Cascade goals throughout the organization, aligning departmental and individual objectives with the overarching strategic goals. 

   – Foster a sense of shared responsibility for goal achievement. 

e. Communication 

   – Communicate goals effectively to all stakeholders, ensuring a shared understanding of expectations. 

   – Encourage open dialogue and feedback regarding goals and progress. 

Creating a Vision 

a. Forward-Looking Perspective 

   – Develop a forward-looking perspective that envisions the organization’s desired future state. 

   – Consider industry trends, market dynamics, and emerging opportunities. 

b. Inspirational and Motivational 

   – Craft a vision statement that is inspirational and motivates employees to work toward a common purpose. 

   – Connect the vision to the organization’s mission and values. 

c. Inclusivity and Collaboration 

   – Involve key stakeholders in the visioning process to ensure a sense of ownership and commitment. 

   – Encourage collaboration and diverse perspectives in shaping the vision. 

d. Long-Term Orientation 

   – Adopt a long-term orientation when creating a vision, looking beyond immediate challenges to anticipate future opportunities. 

   – Align the vision with the organization’s strategic goals. 

e. Regular Review and Reinforcement 

   – Regularly review and reinforce the vision, ensuring that it remains relevant in a dynamic business environment. 

   – Integrate the vision into organizational culture and decision-making processes. 

f. Align with Stakeholder Expectations 

   – Ensure that the vision aligns with the expectations of key stakeholders, including customers, employees, investors, and the community. 

   – Seek feedback and make adjustments as needed. 

By adhering to these principles, organizations can develop robust strategic plans, set meaningful goals, and create inspiring visions that guide them toward long-term success. Strategic planning, goal-setting, and vision creation form a cohesive framework for organizations to navigate the complexities of their environments and achieve sustainable growth. 

In Part 2 of our discussion of the 15 Vital Skills You Need to Be a Successful in Leader, we will elaborate on the following aspects and skills: Time Management, Emotional Intelligence (EI), Change Management, Conflict Resolution, Motivation and Inspiration. See you there!

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