Anyone serious about their leadership is constantly doing things –anything — to get better as a leader. My goal for this post is to create a leadership skills list that will help individuals serious about taking their leadership to the next level.
It’s time to level up
There are a number of great leadership skills lists out there already.
Two of my favorite are right here:
“Top 10 Skills Every Great Leader Needs to Succeed” by Peter Economy
“Top 10 Qualities That Make a Great Leader” by Tanya Prive
These posts have the skills I would expect to find:
- honesty and integrity
- ability to inspire
- ability to delegate
You should read the posts I linked above. They highlight a bunch of skills that I think are important to have as a leader.
However, continue to read for my list of forgotten leadership skills. The list I’m about to share with you are 13 examples of leadership skills that will build your capacity as a leader. If you begin to implement the skills shared in this list, I guarantee you can improve your leadership.
The forgotten leadership skills list
The list and resources above I think are very valuable. They mention important skills, but they miss some key leadership skills that will help everyone serious about leadership growth.
Below is a list of forgotten leadership skills that will help you improve your leadership qualities. Don’t expect this list to offer an idea you’ve never heard before or had exposure to, that’s not the point of a “forgotten” leadership skills list.
My goal for this post is to remind you of important qualities that I think all leaders should have and aren’t found in your typical leadership list posts.
Be yourself – be authentic
This whole list of forgotten leadership traits is really worthless if you are not authentic to yourself.
When I was a first year teacher I remember looking up to all the veteran teachers with amazement. When I tried to be just like them I failed — miserably. The problem was that I was not being authentic to myself.
One key to success, especially for leaders, is to steal great ideas from others your respect and then adapt them to fit your style.
Always be authentic to who you are as an individual. People can always sniff out an impostor.
Build your network
I wouldn’t be half the leader I am if I worked solo.
Today it is easier then ever to connect to other school leaders. My favorite three ways to connect are:
On Twitter you can search for relevant topics, follow other thought leaders in your niche, and participate in Twitter chats. If you’ve never participated in a Twitter chat you are missing out. Check out this blog post written by my friend, Dr. Ryan Jackson, on Twitter chats. I also added a video to this post explaining how Twitter chats work so if you’re a novice you can hop right in like an expert and no one will be the wiser.
Is a social network for professionals. The keys to mastering LinkedIn is to connect with as many professionals in your industry as possible. Build relationships. Help solve problems. I also highly recommend joining groups so you can provide answers to questions, comment on articles, and share resources.
This should be a no brainer. Go to conferences to develop your thinking and also grow your network. As an introvert, I initially found conferences intimidating, that is until I learned this secret …
If you find it hard and/or awkward to talk to new people, then don’t talk. Ask great questions and get out of the way. Try to find points of similarity and ask some more great questions. You’ll make a bunch of new friends and will do it comfortably if you follow that advice.
Be a lifelong learner
Part of being a learner is to apply your new knowledge. Teaching is the best way to do it. Follow the ILT strategy. Invest in your learning, Learn new material, and Teach it to others.
I can tow the line between cocky and confident. Humble leaders are the best.
You have two ears and one mouth for a reason.
Channel your inner-Greek philosopher
Socrates had it right … He developed his students’ critical thinking abilities by asking questions that spurred new and innovative thinking. Don’t feed your people answers or solve their problems for them. Give your staff time, resources, and help them to the right path through asking questions. If they fail ask more questions so that it becomes a valuable learning experience.
Affirm, appreciate, and honor
This is one of my favorite parts of being a leader. I love to encourage people and help them see the meaningfulness of their work. When people show up and give the students their best I acknowledge it. When they live out our school’s values, I acknowledge it. When they create magic in the classroom. I acknowledge it and the best way to do that is through handwritten thank you cards.
You can listen about gratitude here.
According to Dale Carnegie, a person’s name is the sweetest sound he can hear. Try to use a new friend’s name a few times early in the conversation. That way you will be more likely to remember. This is a key skill because it will help develop a connection and show that you care about the other person.
Smile (and be friendly)
Smiles help tear down walls and melt hearts. Leadership is all about relationships. Relationships form easier and maintained well with a steady stream of smiles.
A smile is inviting and communicates compassion to others. A smile is approachable and also states, “You can trust me.”
Don’t criticize in public
I constantly evaluating ideas and have strong opinions about what is right and what is wrong. On my worst days I share my opinion to fast and out loud. Avoid criticizing in public at all costs. I’ve learned this the hard way.
I remember once while at a parent meeting another administrator and I were standing in the hallway discussing high school recruitment. He shared with me that he wanted to have two Open Houses and extend the hours of both events. I responded, “That’s a terrible idea.” Nobody overheard us, but a parent could have. The other admin felt disrespected and I don’t blame him. I didn’t work hard enough to understand his point of view. I would have better influence in the situation if I had gotten curious and tried to understand his point of view.
Appeal to people’s desires to do something substantial
Working at a school is a blessing when developing leadership skills. It’s relatively easy to appeal to others’ desires to make an impact, change lives, and deliver a high-quality education. This all comes down to legacy and school staff have an amazing opportunity to do this on a daily basis.
Use positive phrases
Please and thank you.
These phrases go a long way.
Have you ever stayed at a really fancy hotel? The staff make you feel like royalty and that’s because of their outstanding service and lavish use of positive phrases.
I traveled to South Africa during 3 summers to work with a school and offer professional development to the staff. This was easily one of the best experiences of my life. When you travel to a new country your ear hones in on some of the phrases specific to the culture. I was always tickled when after I said “Thank you” or “Nice meeting you,” a South African would typically respond, “Pleasure” as in “My pleasure.”
These words were like sunshine. “Pleasure” to me communicated “You’re welcome,” but with honor. It communicated, “Is there anything else I can do to help you / serve you?”
These types of positive phrases helped me feel cared for and leaders care for their people. Use positive phrases as much as possible.
Do you learn anything from your experiences or mistakes? Of course you do. That’s because effective leaders are always reflecting on their work and reflecting in order to grow.
This is so important you should schedule times to reflect at some point in your day that works for you. Align reflecting with a task that you already and reflection will also become a habit.
Call to Action
What are you doing to develop your leadership skills?
Do you like lists? If so, then you’d love one of my most popular blog posts with 1000s of page views — “200 tips for effective school leaders.”
Even better download the free gift below and get your hands on 15 tough questions you should ask to accelerate your leadership growth.
If you enjoyed the post, “The Forgotten Leadership Skills List …,” then I would be honored if you commented and shared on social media.
Feel free to add a comment below. What would you add to this leadership skills list?
I help school leaders Create a Winning Culture, Focus on the Essential, and Lead with Courage and Integrity.
P.S. I wrote a short eBook highlighting what I learned from this year’s WCA Global Leadership Summit.
“Penny’s Incredibly Silly Face Day” by Kristin Shoemaker licensed via CC 2.0