5 Basic Leadership Skills Every Leader Needs

Sometimes you just need to focus as a leader on a few basic skills

Sometimes you just need to focus as a leader on a few basic skills

More than a few books have been written on what qualities or traits a leader needs. For some it might seem overwhelming – all the traits and skills a leader must have, but it does not have to be overwhelming. Here are five basic leadership skills every leader needs. If you can work on even just one of these at a time, you will become a much better leader and be able to lead more effectively and efficiently.

1.     Effective communication – a leader needs to be able to speak clearly and efficiently. They should not waste time babbling on about unimportant things. They need to make use of every opportunity they have to talk with those under them and they need to not overwhelm them with what they say. They also need to be willing to carefully and patiently reiterate what they said if it is not understood the first time. At times, a leader must use non-verbal means of communication to get the point across. So be sure to always analyze what you say and do to be certain that you are communicating effectively.

A leader should have a vision and long term goals

A leader should have a vision and long term goals

2.     Clear vision and distinctive goals – a leader should always have a vision or goal for the future. Think about this, if a leader is leading a group of people through a blizzard and decides to set no goals or direction, where do you think they will end up? Well, probably they will not end up anywhere they would want to be. They might even die because they got stuck out in the cold. It’s the same way with everything else; if a leader has no vision or direction, then the entire group will get nowhere and might even die (NOT literally though). A vision is important because it provides a reason for the group or organization to exist. Leaders should always be considering their long term goals and then structuring their short term goals so that they help accomplish the long term ones.

3.     Continued learning and coaching – you probably had someone who helped you and mentored you when you first started leading a group of people. This might have been your boss, pastor or someone else. Once you got the hang of things, you probably thought you could lead on your own right? Well, a leader really needs to always continue to learn how to lead. When a leader stops and thinks they have it all together then they set themselves up for failure. It is imperative to have a mentor or close friend who can offer advice, council, and even rebuke. We all make bad choices at times, and when you have a mentor or coach and are willing to learn, you will minimize the mistakes you make.

4.     Good decision making abilities – one of the biggest jobs a leader has is decision making. They must make the decisions for themselves, and all those who are following them. Good decision making skills come from experience and learning from others. Whenever you have a decision to make, consider the decisions other people have made in a similar situation and use that to help you. Also, and this is very important, rely on God to help guide your decisions.

5.     Positive attitude and outlook on life – lastly, a leader must always keep a positive attitude and outlook on life. A leader sets the example for others, so the leader must always try to be enthusiastic, excited, and positive. It’s not always easy, but when you rely on God, he will help you out on those tough days.

Leading others can be difficult and challenging but if you implement these five basic leadership skills in your life you should be able to lead a lot more easily and effectively.

photos by Ocell ,dsevilla Respectivly.

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Right Priorities, Make Sure Yours are Aligned with God’s

A Change in your Leadership Priorities is sometimes needed

A Change in your Leadership Priorities is sometimes needed

Photo by hockadilly

Priorities are essential for a leader because he or she must be able to focus on a few key areas that are most important to accomplishing the vision or goal of the organization. When a leader has priorities, they are able to determine what tasks they should be doing, and what tasks they should pass on to others. Priorities also help those serving under the leader to see what the goals for the organization are and how they are getting accomplished.

If you have not set any priorities, you may become distracted and lose focus on your vision. Organizations that lose track of their vision become misguided and unproductive. To avoid this, take the time to set a few priorities.  Priorities will help guide you and help to ensure you are working on the things that important and not just the things that are urgent or bouncing from one idea to the next without ever really accomplishing anything of last value.

When you have your God given vision you can set a few priorities that will help you reach that vision.  Your vision will help guide the decision that you make.  Take your priorities and just focus on two or at the most three.  If you have more than three priorities you do not have priorities because everything will start to compete for focus.  For each of your top priorities list out the tasks that you can do that will help those priorities come to life.

Now that you have a few priorities in your life, it is time to see if they match up with God’s priorities. Yes, God wants your priorities to be aligned with His. If they are not, you will probably struggle and have a tough time succeeding because your desires will be tugging against your conscience and the voice of the Holy Spirit in your life.  .

The good news is that God wants your priorities to be the same as His. And he has outlined His priorities in the Bible. Now that you have your priorities, pray about them and see what God has to say about them. It might be that they are what he wants you to do, or it might be that they are not. Or possible, he might want you to wait for a little while.

If you feel like you are having a difficult time discerning what priorities God wants you to focus on, do not hesitate to seek the council of a pastor, friend, or mentor. Ask their advice, and ask them to pray with you.

Your priorities have a large impact on the direction of your life, so if they are not aligned with God, then you will not be aligned with God either.

So when you are making priorities in your life, remember this important key: make God’s priorities, a priority in your life.

A Leader Must Have Vision

Leaders need to have vision to avoid being in a fog

Leaders need to have vision to avoid being in a fog

Photo by Philipp Klinger (No sun anymore on Cape Cod)

A leader’s primary objective is often simply to lead and direct people. But it is vital to recognize other aspects a leader must also focus on. One such important area is having a vision. Having a vision means planning ahead, it means having a goal or idea for the future. It means that there is an overriding objective that the leader is trying to attain.

Every leader, no matter what occupation they have or role they play should be working towards their objective. Having a vision gives reason for their leadership.

A vision can look like a variety of things. It can be a soccer coach’s goal of reaching the final with his team, or the CEO’s goal of making 100 million dollars.

What long term goals do you have that you should be focusing on? What is your vision for the people you lead?

Leaders need to be constantly setting, and evaluating their vision and goals for the future. They should be planning their long term vision, along with several mid-term type objectives, and a bunch of short-term goals.

Setting a range of goals will help you, and the people you lead, focus and stay on track with what you are trying to do. Be sure that any short-term goals match up with your vision.

Once you have a plan and vision, it is important to communicate it to those who are following you. Be enthusiastic and get them onboard with you. Don’t keep them in the dark about what your plans are and what you want to do, let others know and they will probably be even more willing to follow.

The Importance of Short Term Goals

Using short term goals you can reach even the most lofty goal

Using short term goals you can reach even the most lofty goal

Photo by Kevin Steele

You may be great at putting together a lofty vision that encompasses your long term goals, but what are you doing to reach them? Do you have steps and short term goals to help you reach your final objective?

Long term goals are great, but as long as you don’t have a step by step plan for getting there, you probably won’t get there. Setting several short term goals that lead you to accomplishing your final objective is the best way to stay focused and on track.

In a great book I was reading called Axiom by Bill Hybels the author said that he uses a six by six rule for planning and accomplishing short term goals. He puts together a list of short term tasks and goals that he needs to do and then narrows it down to just six key tasks to do that will also work towards his long term vision. He then gives himself just 6 weeks to do each of the six short term goals. Once the six weeks are up, it’s time to put together a new list of short term goals.

This method of organizing and then giving yourself a specific amount of time to accomplish your short term goals is a fantastic way to boost your effectiveness. You will also feel much better about your long term vision because you are taking manageable steps towards reaching that vision.

Is it time for you to stop being frustrated with long term goals, and focus on six specific short term goals for six weeks? Get something done now, and write down what your short term goals are. If need be, you don’t have to make it six goals in six weeks, you can tailor it to fit what you are doing. The important thing is to start doing something now to ensure you reach your long term vision in the future.

Focus on Your Weaknesses

Since I have lived in Japan for the last 8 years I thought this photo must have been taken there but I checked the owner and it looks like he is from England.  They often through sings up that seem weird to us in English.  If you haven’t wasted enough time on the internet today Engrish.com is a great site to see some of those thoughts.

Anyway, in much of business, leadership and self help writing today everyone is talking about focusing on your strengths.  I wholeheartedly agree.  I think that is especially what we are to do as Christians in our service to the body is to use our gifts and strengths to serve others.  I think others are most blessed when we are working in an area that God has gifted us rather than in an area that we are weak in.

The one glaring exception to this would be if the area of weakness is not in the realm of strengths, talents or abilities but rather character.  If you have a character weakness that is something that needs to be addressed right away.  Take it to the cross, take it to a friend so they can be praying for you and keeping you accountable and work on a personal growth plan to help you move that character issue so that it is no longer a weakness for you.

So if you have a character weakness you definitely want to spend some time focusing on it so that it doesn’t bring you down in the long run.  In the Emporer’s Club from 2002, William Hundert is a passionate teacher who teaches Greek and Roman history to his students while trying to impress the importance of character on them as well.  Hundert realizes that Sedgwick Bell is cheating instead of confronting him, he manipulates the questions so that Bell loses the “Julias Ceaser” competition at the end of the year.    25 years later Bell arranges a rematch.  Once again Hundert, realizes that he is cheating.  In the men’s room Hundert confronts Bell, who replies that what is important is the goal, not how one gets there.  After Bell reveals his lack of character his son reveals that he has been in the bathroom and heard the whole conversation.

I wonder how the story would have been different if Bell had been challenged to work on his character 25 years earlier instead of as a full grown man.