Last week, we took a look at the scientific approach to leadership skills, an objective approach with scientific metrics to lend rigour and “testability” to what some call “soft skills”. We reflected that such an approach can help an organisation to accurately pinpoint what the main leadership skills are for contributing to the organisation’s achievements and growth.

Far from being simply a pleasant manner and an ability to get on with team members, we found that there are clearly identifiable leadership skills that translate directly into assets and attributes that deliver measurable value.

We looked at the work of two practitioners of this rigorous analysis, the US business researchers Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman, of strengths-based leadership skills consultancy Zenger Folkman. And we looked at a report that was the result of painstaking interviews with 330,000 bosses, peers and employees. Based on this research, Zenger and Folkman proposed a list of the top ten leadership skills

See our previous post for the first five; here we take a look at the next five making up the list.

  • Build relationships: Successful organisations are built upon foundations of relationships and trust. Great leaders start with relationships – relationships with team members, relationships with clients or stakeholders, relationships with their boss, relationships with others in the industry, sector, network and community. Good leaders build powerful and positive relationships with all in their world.
  • Show expertise: Many leaders rise up through their organisations from a background in a specific department or skill, whether it is surveying, marketing, accounting or IT. They command the respect of the teams that they lead by virtue of their expertise. If you can leverage your professional skills, it will underscore your credentials for leading the wider organisation – “nothing succeeds like success”, and conquering smaller departments will help you earn the respect of the whole body.
  • Think strategically: Avoid micro-management and aim for the bigger picture, “the vision stuff”. Great leaders have a goal and need to inspire the organisation to reach it. Tactical, day-to-day decisions are best left to subordinates; that is what they are there for. A leader knows how to delegate and to trust his or her people.
  • Develop your people: Great leaders don’t just worry about improving their professional skills. They spot those in their team who are coming up through the ranks and set aside time and budget to ensure that they acquire the skillsets to become the leaders of the next generation. It’s the philosophy that underpins continuing professional development (CPD).
  • Always innovate: We live in an ever-changing world. Just as the cart was replaced by the canal boat, then the train, then combustion engine and finally flight, the world of work and business is constantly evolving. A recent study by McKinsey Global Institute found that almost half of all jobs have the capacity to be replaced by automation. But leadership skills are not something that can simply be programmed. Stay ahead of the curve by being open to, and embracing, innovation.

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