7 Key Leadership Skills and How to Develop Them

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Equip your leaders with these seven key leadership skills to push forward sustainable growth and drive productivity across your organisation.

Key Leadership Skills

The leadership development process should aim to produce talented leaders to take over senior positions within an organisation as they become vacant. This succession planning identifies high-potential candidates for advancement. It not only encourages better staff engagement, but helps to unlock aptitude and talent which in turn pushes forward a company’s growth.

Leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders

Tom Peters

Develop your leaders to enable the organisation to avoid the pitfalls that occur as a result of poor leadership. Through assessment, coaching, training and 360 feedback you can identify those current and potential leaders who will actively encourage good morale, improve productivity, creativity and innovation within their workplace.

7 Key Leadership Skills and How to Develop Them


Potential leaders need to be self-sufficient, organise/delegate their workload as appropriate and make sound decisions. They know how to get things done and are accountable for tasks assigned to them. Strong leaders should feel empowered and in control, even in the face of uncertainty.


Teams need to know that they can trust and respect their managers, based on a history of successful experience and knowledge. Organisations must avoid creating a culture where ‘failing upwards’ becomes acceptable. Teams must believe that their leader has earnt their position and reward. Make sure that you give your potential leaders the opportunities to learn and succeed so they can begin to build a good reputation for the future.

Hiring managers, decision-makers, even voters can be easily “seduced” by characteristics incompatible with good leadership, such as overconfidence.

Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, Professor of Business Psychology, Columbia University


Leaders need two types of awareness: Social and self/emotional. They need to be observant and attentive to the slightest cues, especially in a remote workplace. They must keep a close eye on workplace relationships to ensure team dynamics don’t sour and result in a toxic rather than an effective workplace culture. They also must be aware of their own reactions and responses to ensure they behave in proportion to the matter at hand. Developing awareness is a crucial step towards greater emotional intelligence in the workplace.

Inspirational optimism

Leaders are strong team players who can motivate and inspire those they work alongside. Think Steve Jobs, rather than Adam Neuman. They have a positive influence on their team, providing encouragement and understanding about what others need and want to perform effectively. Maintaining positivity helps to shape the confidence of a team as a whole. Be aware however, of allowing unrelenting optimism that can lead to ‘toxic positivity’ where justifiable negative emotions are regarded as a failure or weakness.


Attend meetings on time, run them to schedule, be focused on the work, and meet deadlines. This all sets a good example and proves that a leader deserves their position. If your leaders struggle in some of these areas, but excel elsewhere, give them the appropriate support to make sure they can perform at their best, and not at the expense of their team. It’s here that awareness is crucial. The individual must recognise this part of their personality and develop a strategy to manage it – whether that’s through delegation or self-improvement.


It’s so important for a leader to be energised by purpose and seek to make a difference through their position. This energy sets the tone for their team. A sluggish or disengaged leader will create a team with an equally ambivalent attitude towards their goals. But again, be aware of going too far in the other direction and creating a culture of toxic positivity, it’s all about being proportionate.


An important trait of a good leader to be able listen to others. This may be to get feedback, or to get a sense of how team members are performing. Is burnout creeping in among the team? Are relationships starting to fray? Leaders have the responsibility to ensure that their team members are stretched and energised by challenge, not constantly stressed by overload or badly-behaving co-workers. This comes from constant communication. Not Zoom drinks or even 1:1s, although these have their place. Good communication is not just about what is said but picking up on the clues that may be between the lines and asking questions.

The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not a bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humor, but without folly.

Jim Rohn

What Should an Effective Leadership Development Programme Include?

  • Recognise the leadership needs of your own organisation – its short and long-term strategic goals and be aligned with planned growth and demands of your sector.
  • Develop and encourage employees to learn and grow within their roles and the wider organisation.
  • They should identify and understand their strengths and weaknesses in the workplace through greater self and social awareness.
  • Provide challenging projects and the opportunity to develop new skills to increase confidence, morale, and enable a better understanding of the organisation’s values.
  • Identify your top-performing and talented individuals who are best placed for leadership development. High-potential employees are fully engaged in the workplace, and they possess the aspiration and ability to motivate others to their full potential.
  • Define a clear set of goals in order to successfully implement and monitor progress.
    Support participants with feedback, coaching and mentoring. Formal training is also essential to create the foundation from which they can succeed.

Leadership programmes need a combination of training, development assignments, projects and support. The Holst Leader Series is a portfolio of training workshops and virtual flowprofiler® dimension labs designed to expand and integrate leadership skills to bring growth to the individual and to their organisation.

Register your interest for upcoming flowprofiler® dimension labs here:

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