leadership skills how to improve core skills

6 Core Skills to Improve Leadership

Imagine you are driving a car along a motorway. Although you appear to be driving in a straight line and the landscape looks the same you need to remain alert.  In 2016 most of us are not able to program our car, point it in the direction we’re headed then sit back and relax. We are constantly checking the steering. We make minor adjustments. We watch the traffic in front and behind, monitoring changes in conditions and our braking distances.


6 Core Leadership Skills

Ever day, leaders come up against potentially difficult or even turbulent challenges. You may well have seen the same scenario many times. Personalities, personal narratives, changes in economic climate can all transform a situation and outcome.


Have you evaluated your leadership style?

Therefore, leaders must be mindful. Not only do they need to manage themselves, a coaching leader will also be trying to develop talent. Nothing remains the same. So, to develop the talent surrounding a leader will assist in coping with whatever spray is kicked up by passing problems. It will even help when the business traffic comes to a sudden halt.

In fact, there is a system of core coaching skills that will help you remain aware, agile and creative.


6 core leadership skills to improve your coaching are:

1. Self-awareness

2. Curious questioning

3. Open listening

4. Appreciative discovery

5. Catalytic feedback

6. Heightened engagement


Leadership Skill 1:

Self-awareness is an underutilized state. In fact, mindfulness may well prevent any leader from walking into the same problem with the same mindset and therefore a tediously predictable result. Learning to read others’ body language can be invaluable at all times but especially when the conversation is significant. Consider how you might approach a meeting.

1. How much energy do you have?

2. What is your attitude?

3. How are you managing the approach to an important negotiation or conversation?

Leadership Skill 2:

Curious questioning can change how people react to you. If you’ve stopped listening to what colleague or team members have to say expect trouble. If you stop listening they’ll stop talking. It’s that simple. So putting other people’s ideas first makes them more inclined to share.

1. Invite contributions and expect to hear things you may not agree with but need to hear.

2. Remember your values, assumptions, and goals will probably differ from others and you are NOT always right.

3. Find other ways to solve and look again by inviting opinion. Someone may well be sitting on a solution you haven’t even considered.


Leadership Skill 3:

Open listening can transform your workspace and people’s attitude towards you. If you are known as being egocentric and ungenerous your leadership role immediately becomes harder. ‘Me, myself and I’ needs to be kept in check. Valuing the input of your team will change the dynamic and lead to more positive outcomes.

1. Respect when others speak. Point scoring and slapping down ideas from your colleagues is not desirable. Neither does it maximise the potential of your team.

2. Reject your personal narrative. You may be carrying assumptions and expectations that are out of step with reality.

3. Be reflexive in your approach. Measure how you feel, how others are behaving and act appropriately.

4. Listen for signs of aspiration and intent. What motivates your team? How can you make them feel more valued or take more responsibility?

5. Be aware of proxemics or body language. Monitor the emotion in an individual, group or within a room. How are they feeling? How will these feelings assist in gauging their true feelings about the proposal, idea, topic or proposal?


Leadership Skill 4:

Appreciative discovery will help you to give opportunity and maximise the strengths of your team. People like to feel appreciated and will automatically give more. It’s human nature. Don’t work against something that could reap untold rewards when handled sensitively.

1. Prospect for previously unused interests, talents, strengths, and capabilities.

2. Listen for clues. Explore new options. Be open minded regarding opportunities for development, service or skill utilization

3. Promote enthusiasm. Connect with aspiration. Consider motivation and harness enthusiasm. Your response can make a tangible difference to the health of your team


Leadership Skill 5:

Catalytic feedback will enable you to discuss where you are as a team. Be honest. Ask for suggestions and value perspectives from those operating at the cutting edge. Their perspective is bound to be different. When people feel a leader understands their difficulties then relationships become more honest, transparent and mutually profitable.

1. Talk about what’s working. Explore obstacles and reasons for failure, poor performance or friction.

2. Recalibrate achievable goals. Celebrate achievements, however small. Everyone performs more effectively when they see progress and feel the path is clear. This way you can maximise capacity.

3. Reinforce positive behaviours with support and genuine heartfelt praise.


Leadership Skill 6:

Heightened engagement:

1. As you build relationships have your goals and the expected results in mind. It’s not just about being ‘nice’. This engagement should lead to improvement, development, and tangible results.

2. Ensure everyone is aware of what success looks like. Agree on incremental steps, and how progress will be measured and reviewed.

3. Review progress quickly. Avoid lengthy discussion. Prepare simply digested and visual results. Identify  and discuss the appropriate lessons learned, and celebrate achievement


Surprising strategy:

Start by being self-aware. This is a key component to meaningful leadership. It will also enable you, as a leader to end a project with a sense of heightened engagement.  By considering these six core leadership skills as a structure it will assist you in making progress for both you and your team.


What’s the most useful tip you’ve come across and what results did you achieve when you used it?


Further Reading

Coaching for Engagement: Achieving Results Through Powerful Conversations Paperback – 13 Sep 2010 Bob Hancox (Author), Russell Hunter  (Author), Kristann Boudreau (Author)

Reflective Practice Paperback – 28 Feb 2010 by Gillie Bolton (Author)

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