It's often said that great leaders are born, not made. Many of us have had the privilege to encounter or work alongside such individuals – those charismatic, natural leaders who captivate our attention.

These individuals possess a certain magnetism that compels us to heed their advice and support their endeavors. They have a remarkable ability to bring out the best in others.

However, there are also those unfortunate enough to experience working with individuals in leadership roles whose leadership qualities and soft skills are significantly lacking. These individuals demonstrate daily what effective leadership isn't…

Leadership, in fact, comprises a skill set – a collection of skills – that can be learned, cultivated, and honed through dedicated effort.

Remarkably, you already possess many of the qualities essential for becoming the successful leader you aspire to be, whether you realize it or not. These qualities are uniquely yours!

The following components can be viewed as the fundamental building blocks of exceptional leadership. This is by no means a one-size-fits-all recipe.

Similar to crafting a good dish, consider this information as the foundation upon which you can construct the leader you envision becoming.

Two people having a conversation while sitting down in a lounge environment.
Two people having a conversation while sitting down in a lounge environment.

1. cultivate a positive atmosphere

As a leader, you teach your team how to respond to crises, challenges and chaos by how you respond.

Clear, level-headed decision-making in the face of business challenges tells employees you’re in charge. You're steering the ship capably through rough waters.

Help your team stay focused on the big picture. Humour at the right time goes a long way to ease tensions and reduce stress. It unites people and lightens the load.

Being a leader doesn't mean you have to rule with an iron fist. Some of our most respected leaders are people we're able to laugh with.

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2. build the best team possible

You don’t have to have all the answers, unless you like working in a vacuum. Recruit people with a broad range of personal and professional experiences.

Challenge them to find real, creative solutions. Hold frequent conversations with your workforce. And listen to what they have to say. Great leaders learn from those they manage.

3. encourage life-long learning 

Any good leader will tell you there’s always something new to learn. Whether you’re a fresh-faced 18-year-old starting your first job or an experienced 58-year-old looking forward to retirement, there’s always time for learning.

Look for ways to improve your skills and develop yourself personally. Beyond that, encourage everyone you manage to do the same. Everyone wins.

4. know your business

Your boots-on-the-ground experience makes you more credible. While you don’t need to understand every facet of each job required to make your organization function, make sure your division managers do. And make sure you understand how each piece fits into the big picture.

5. enhance your ability to speak publicly

Your conversational communication should be direct, sincere, credible and respectful. Not naturally comfortable speaking to groups? Find an organization or trainer who can help you enhance your ability to speak publicly.

Consider improvisational theatre classes to hone quick thinking, active listening, and spontaneous responsiveness – invaluable for unscripted Q&A sessions.

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6. delegate

Delegating is a crucial ability for good leadership. Entrusting tasks demonstrates your confidence in your team's capabilities and fosters their growth. This process is integral for their development and the nurturing of future leaders.

7. lead by example

Don’t ask your team to do anything you wouldn’t do yourself. Let them see you rolling your sleeves up, staying late when necessary and coming in early when a deadline looms.

You’re not telling them what you expect as much as leading by example. Inspiring them to bring their best to the organization because you do, makes everyone feel invested in the company’s success. The same goes for being well-rounded.

Balance your work and life, and communicate it to your team so they feel encouraged to do the same. You want a happy, high-functioning workforce; encouraging work-life balance is how you achieve that.

8. give credit where it’s due

Recognize and show your appreciation for a job well done. Be sincere and honest with your praise – team members can sense when you’re not.

They’ll also know when you’re confident in their abilities and respond accordingly. Recognize that everyone works differently and is motivated by different things.

Think about the cultural, gender, religious and social diversity in your organization. Be sensitive to differences when dealing with workers and customize your approach accordingly.

In conclusion, when evaluating your strengths and weaknesses in the workplace, it's crucial to consider factors like emotional intelligence, work environment, and leadership skills.

Your ability to understand and manage emotions, adapt to different situations, and foster employee engagement are key skills required for long-term success.

Communication skills, along with important leadership skills, play a pivotal role in creating a positive work environment and driving growth.

Recognizing and developing these important skills not only enhances your professional journey but also contributes to your overall effectiveness as a valued team member or leader.

Realize that the same factors that differentiate us from each other are a great source of strength and increased capabilities that need to be recognized and nurtured. This is the field from which leaders of tomorrow will rise.

Good leaders think strategically and analytically. They’re flexible and agile. While they may not be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, they can alter their course in order to go around obstacles that seem insurmountable.

They’re innovative and creative, and usually have strong planning and organizational skills (or have hired an assistant who does!)

Strong leaders are problem solvers but not before they empower their teams to come up with workable solutions. Most importantly, great leaders are honest and ethical; they exude strength of character and value transparency.

A strong leader establishes core values and a company vision that others embrace. They share these in ways that inspire and motivate, encouraging everyone to excel in their tasks. You can be the person people want to follow.

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