Professional Development

The importance of leadership skills across all careers

Written by Guest Contributor

No matter what industry you work in and regardless of whether you’re just starting out or you’re already well established in your career, cultivating strong leadership skills can be essential to your professional development. After all, leadership skills are all about building relationships, solving problems, and thinking critically and creatively. And those are skills that drive success both in work and in life. But how, exactly, can leadership skills support you in your career?

Building relationships

Building relationships lies at the heart of true leadership. After all, you can’t lead if you’re not able to inspire your colleagues to follow. And fundamental to building strong relationships are both emotional intelligence and empathy.

Effective leadership requires more than just monitoring your employees through the day; you have to try to empathize with and understand them. A true leader will be able to understand and honor the needs and perspectives of those around them.

The caring and respect that characterize the true leader can then be harnessed to support and direct peers and subordinates through any situation that might arise, from managing conflicts and crises to mentoring new team members. Even in fields where staff work more autonomously, such as nursing, the team cohesion and empathetic support afforded through such leadership skills not only enhances the performance of the team members but also ensures optimal patient care.

Enhanced communication

No matter what your particular job description, poor communication can be profoundly detrimental to your effectiveness in the workplace. It’s perhaps not surprising, then, that along with people development and relationship management, strong leadership skills include superb communication.

And to communicate effectively, you must have a clear vision and a strong sense of purpose for the work that you and your colleagues do. Without such an understanding, not only will you be unable to define and implement your own best practices in your work, but you will also be unable to articulate the requirements, expectations, and goals driving your team.

Strong communication is particularly important in challenging situations, as when disputes between colleagues or with clients arise. Leadership skills involving communication help you to address challenging and sensitive issues with diplomacy, tact, compassion, and candor.

Similarly, in crises or during transitional periods in the workplace, being an effective communicator can help reduce ambiguity and workplace stress, helping team members feel more confident as they navigate change.

Developing the communication skills of a true leader also means being able to express oneself effectively and appropriately to a variety of audiences and in an array of media, from email and text to formal correspondence to public speeches and private conversations. Indeed, learning to tailor your communication strategy to the situation, the purpose, and the audience, whether a client, a colleague, or a superior, is one of the most desired aptitudes in the workplace, regardless of your field.

Creativity and innovation

In addition to the ability to cultivate strong relationships and communicate effectively for any audience or occasion, leadership skills also involve the affinity for innovation and creative thinking. After all, the workplace is a dynamic, constantly evolving environment. The market is ever-changing, as are clients’ needs and expectations.

And that means that you need to be creative, agile, and responsive in the work environment if you want to demonstrate true leadership skills. However, it won’t be sufficient to bring such innovativeness to your own work.

If you want to cultivate the creative capacity of a true leader, then you will need to be able to inspire creativity in your team. In the workplace, one of the best strategies for fostering innovation is through the use of brainstorming sessions.

And if you want to hone your skills in creative leadership, learning to lead effective brainstorming sessions is an ideal place to begin because it involves the ability both to define the problem or essential question effectively and to build an environment in which ideas flow freely and all contributions are received with due consideration and respect.

Refining your skills

As can be seen from the discussions above, you don’t need to have your eye on a leadership role to cultivate these fundamental skills. Instead, pursuing leadership training can support your professional success no matter what your career trajectory might be. Regardless of your field, knowing how to build relationships, communicate effectively, and think creatively will yield immense rewards for you, your colleagues, and your clients. The good news is that building your skills is not difficult. There are, in fact, a range of courses in leadership that can be audited at low or no cost online from some of the world’s most prestigious universities.

The takeaways

You don’t have to be working toward a leadership role to benefit from honing your leadership skills. No matter what your particular job or industry, every career can be enhanced when you develop your aptitude for nurturing relationships, communicating, and innovating.  With these fundamental skills in place, you will be uniquely qualified not only to excel in your job but to support excellence in others. And that’s going to make you indispensable to your company, your colleagues, and your clients!

About the Author:
Jori Hamilton is an experienced writer residing in the Northwestern U.S. She covers a wide range of topics but takes a particular interest in covering topics related to business productivity and marketing strategies.

About the author

Guest Contributor