used to being
in a supportive
role, are about to
leading a team
instead of participating in one.
The old adage goes that leaders are born, not made. Looking at the traits of leaders, it is easy to see why this is so widely accepted. Based on many surveys and articles about leadership, good leaders exhibit a number of traits in common. When people with these qualities receive leadership training and development, a “natural leader”
emerges. Everyone knows a “natural leader”. This is the person who others look to as a
mentor, the person everyone wants to work with, the person who inspires others. Training can help to focus those qualities.
First, leaders need to be knowledgeable in their field. This includes, but is not limited to
technical knowledge, experience and competence. They need to have a vision of where
they want to go and the ability to define what success will look like. In addition, there is an
ethical component of trust, honor and integrity1.A leader will never lie to you, no matter
what the outcome of the discussion.
Leaders inspire. In fact, leaders are only leaders when there are followers. Leadership
is dynamic and moves both the leader and the followers toward a goal.All the parties are
involved and participants actively engage in defining and redefining the goal for the group
and for themselves. According to Dwight D. Eisenhower,“Leadership is the art of getting
someone to do something you want done because he wants to do it”.
Why are leaders and leadership development important? There is an upcoming“brain
drain” as the Baby Boomers begin to retire. In fact, some sources put the talent drain at 30% 2.
Even though Boomers may be working past age 65, companies need to start succession planning now in order to maintain business continuity. Younger workers, used to being in a supportive role, are about to find themselves leading a team instead of participating in one.
Effective leaders require certain skills, and these skills can be learned, developed and improved with time and mentoring. Leadership development should focus on a few key areas.
According to Monica Moses,“Effective leaders make others feel good about themselves as
well as the work they are doing. The leader has a vision of what she wants to achieve and
can communicate that vision to others.A great leader is someone who treats staff members
respectfully, as individuals, and helps them grow. It’s someone who engages with employees, challenges their assumptions and provokes thought. It’s someone whose optimism is
contagious. Someone with unquestionable integrity. Somebody who can be trusted as a
guide and advocate” 3.
Interpersonal skills include conflict resolution, negotiation, trust building and valuing
diversity, and managing office politics4.
Leaders need to know and be able to communicate goals, whether they be personal, professional or corporate. One thing a good leader typically does is to communicate the big picture so that each employee can see how the particular role he plays makes a contribution
to the final result5. In so doing, the leader inspires the team to move forward.
Decision Making Skills