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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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.

3 Characteristics of a Real Leader

Leadership: The act of Leading

Leadership: The act of Leading

Photo by lumaxart

Leaders hold the most important roles in our society. They act as an example for others, they tell others what to do, and they define how we should live our lives. With such great responsibility it becomes imperative for a leader to be not just a leader, but a great leader. There are 3 characteristics every leader can have, and must have to be a great leader. They are faith, hope, and love.

A leader who has faith believes in themselves, in others, and most importantly, in God.

They believe in themselves by challenging themselves and taking on difficult, but possible tasks to complete. Leaders with this characteristic won’t shy away from jobs or responsibility. They will do what they need to do and take the blame if they make a mistake.

A leader with faith believes in the workers and people under them. They delegate and give responsibility to others and allow others to offer input. They don’t micromanage others and they don’t create countless rules to follow. They are flexible, yet require results from people under them.

Most importantly, a leader must have faith in God. Faith that God will support them, provide for them, be the source of authority, and supplier of justice. God is the one from whom all authority is given. Keeping this in mind a leader will also stay humble. You could say that God is the ultimate leader, thus, putting for faith in Him and following his commands seems only reasonable and even logical. Wouldn’t you want to put your faith in the ‘best’ leader?

Hope is the second characteristic. Hope for the future, forward thinking, vision, and goal focused are all aspects of hope. A leader should be thinking about what their plan is for tomorrow; what their long-term goals are for both themselves and those following them. Their hope should create passion for what they do and desire to do it well. The hope that a leader has should also be spread to their followers, giving them an idea of what is to come and what the leader’s plans are for the future.

Finally, love is the last and greatest characteristic. A leader must have a love for their work, their family, their followers, and for God.

Naturally a leader who loves to lead will certainly lead better than one who doesn’t. Their love for what they do will be infective in the way it will cause those around them to work a little harder and perform a bit better. A leader’s love for what they do is vital to preventing failure and burnout.

Love for their family will be like a beacon proclaiming their true character for all to see. If a leader neglects or places their family behind other things then people will take note and recognize the leader’s lack of care for those closest to them. Yet when a leader does love their family first then many other aspects of their life will seamlessly fall in place. Those under them will respect their leader and readily follow their commands.

A leader’s love for their followers is directly related to their love for their own family. Often, a leader’s family is their first followers and when a leader is placed in charge of others, their love for their family will also change into a loving and caring attitude towards all who follow them. A leader’s love for their followers will inspire them to achieve and complete things to the best of their ability. When a leader loves his followers he will look out for their interests and, when possible, place them before his own interests. This does not mean that a leader should compromise on goals and objectives, but merely that they should take an interest in the lives of those the lead.

Lastly, a leader must love God with all their heart, soul and mind. There is much that could be said about loving God, but all that will be said here is that God is the giver of all authority, so we must follow God, and follow His commands, and the greatest of his commands is “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Mat. 22:37b, NIV).

How can you improve as a leader? How can you start implementing these characteristics in your own life? The time is now, don’t wait until tomorrow, change today, and see the results forever.