The Top 6 Leadership Skills Managers Look For

The Top 6 Leadership Skills Managers Look For

If you want to advance in your career, you need to show leadership skills. And while you might have an idea of what leadership skills should look like, do you know what leadership skills your manager wants to see? Find out which leadership skills matter most to management and how you can improve on them.

1. Leading Teams

The best way for a manager to know that an employee is a leader is to actually see them lead. By leading teams, you're showcasing your leadership skills. It's also one of the areas in which most employees are lacking. According to one study, 34% of employers cited leading teams as a top challenge.

Of course, there are other responsibilities a leader has. But team leading is one of the most vital skills and one of the more difficult skills to learn. While it's easy enough to read about being a leader, knowing how to effectively lead a team takes practice. To gain experience, offer to head up team projects. Volunteer for positions that require you to manage a group of people. Over time, you'll get better at being a leader.

2. Leading at Scale

Another major challenge cited by employers is leading at scale. As companies grow, leadership needs to adapt. When leadership doesn't adapt, the business struggles. A company's leaders need to be able and willing to change as the company scales.

This skill comes down to being flexible. To practice this skill, keep an open mind. Pay attention to how your company handles growth.

3. Strategic Management

If you want to advance to a management position, you need to know how to analyze current practices and functions. In your analysis, you should be able to predict issues and come up with plans for addressing them.

Fortunately, this is a skill you can practice before you advance. Start by observing the work of others, and try to understand how management could improve that work. You don't need to be in a management role to suggest new ideas or improve processes.

If there's a current process that's not working, make a five-step management plan. Start off by identifying the issue, analyzing it, forming a plan, executing it, and evaluating the outcome. If you're successful, you'll gain attention from management. Even if you don't actually make anything official, you can use the five-step plan as an example of your leadership skills.

4. Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence, or EQ, is the ability to see how emotions play a part in human behavior. As a leader, you need emotional intelligence to understand yourself and your team. If you have a high level of emotional intelligence, you can perform better and foster a strong relationship with your team. You also can act in a way that motivates your team to succeed.

Still confused? Here's an example of how emotional intelligence can help you at work. You might be aware that you have time anxiety. If you're working on a group project with a tight deadline, you need to be able to control that anxiety, or else your stress will bring down the team. You can be careful about your word choice and body language to avoid affecting your coworkers.

Not everyone has a naturally high emotional intelligence. If you're lacking in the skillset, take some time to assess yourself. How do you react when you're experiencing stress? Whenever someone is talking to you, pay attention to cues other than their words. How does their body language or tone make you feel?

5. Relationship Management

As a manager, you need to be able to handle conflicts between team members. You also should be able to foster strong bonds between your employees. Whether you're stepping in to resolve an argument or are pairing a mentor with a mentee, you need to be able to handle relationships.

Another aspect of relationship management is giving routine reviews and acknowledging accomplishments. Therefore, managers often look for employees who can give constructive feedback and show positivity when deserved.

As you might expect, this is an easy skill to practice. Even if you're an entry-level employee, work on your interpersonal relationships. Be the first to acknowledge a coworker when they're successful, and offer resolutions when two coworkers are arguing. Just be sure you don't overstep or worsen conflicts. Eventually, your manager will notice how good you are with coworkers.

6. Communication

Ultimately, a good leader needs to communicate clearly. There are four types of communication. First, there's verbal communication. Whether you're on the phone or in the office, you need to be able to convey your ideas with clarity. The second type is nonverbal communication. Your body language falls under this category. As a leader, it's important to make sure your body language is in line with what you're trying to communicate.

Then, there's visual and written communication. In addition to being able to communicate in all four ways, you need to know when each style is appropriate. You should be able to assess the situation and determine which style to use. Furthermore, you need to use the communication style to clearly and concisely make your point.

Whatever your current role may be, communication is an essential part of every workday. When you receive an email from your boss, analyze the writing. Is it clear? What words helped your manager make their point? Every time you have a meeting, focus on verbal and nonverbal communication. Learn what makes for effective communication and what makes for effective communication,

Showcasing Your Leadership Skills

You don't need to wait for a promotion to showcase your leadership skills. Instead, make an effort to be a leader every day. If you have a successful and effective manager, mimic some of their techniques. You can also learn from the ineffective managers in your office by avoiding the techniques they use.

If you make an effort to practice your leadership skills, your manager will notice. When a promotion or opportunity arises, your manager could be the one to recommend you for the job!

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