4 Skills Every Leader Should Have

Leaders are often charismatic and extroverted. Others are more introverted. Either way, they all share these skills.
Co-Founder, Editor-In-Chief, Wise Bread
August 17, 2011

The most well-known leaders are often charismatic and extroverted. They make great speeches and can rally a crowd. In millions of successful and thriving businesses and communities around the world, there are also great leaders driving their companies and causes forward. But they're not all extroverted and gregarious. They're not all outspoken and charming. But they do all share four key attributes of leadership.

1. Leaders make decisions

This sounds simple, but many business owners are paralyzed by the decision-making process. A poor leader who can't decide between two great opportunities or two very tough calls makes things worse by deciding to do nothing at all. Almost as bad is the leader who asks a committee to make the decision, instead.

A good leader understands that she has to be wise but decisive. And while asking for opinions, ideas, and advice from others is important, ultimately a leader has to be prepared to make the call, and willing to take responsibility if things don't go well.

2. Leaders meet and greet their people

Those who follow need to feel connected to the leader. There has to be a trust in the leader's guidance and vision. Without a strong personal connection, that relationship cannot be built.

This doesn't mean one-on-one time with every employee, every day. If you're running a multi-million dollar company, you cannot know the name of every single person working there. But you have to be accessible. You have to find ways to meet and greet those on the ground floor. That's the only way they'll be willing to support you.

3. Leaders establish a common purpose

Your employees don't just want to help you make more money. That's not a worthy goal. Your company needs a mission statement and a culture that supports that mission. Give your employees something to be proud of by working for you. Give them a “worth vision” to pursue. The daily grind has to add up to something more than a paycheck.

The common purpose has to be worthy of their support, and they have to trust that you will hold to that purpose. Provide updates and news on the progress toward the shared goal, and make sure everyone knows where you and they stand in relation to that goal.

4. Leaders teach

The most important thing a good leader does is teach. Beyond the company's mission and long-term vision, employees want to grow and perhaps one day create something of their own. Teach what you've learned. Share what you've been given. Be a mentor and example and ensure that you're providing an environment that will help your employees flourish. That might mean that you're giving them the tools to eventually leave your team. At the same time, stunting their ambition will be an invitation for them to leave as well.

It's easy to overlook these aspects of leadership when there are many more concrete and tangible things to address. They can be reports or meetings, keeping up to date on industry news and developments. But at the end of the day, it's people who keep your company running and it's these people who deserve your attention.

Co-Founder, Editor-In-Chief, Wise Bread