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The 3 Most Important Leadership Skills

Updated: Sep 11, 2023

The 3 Quickest Ways to Develop Them

Of all the leadership skills you can develop, the three below are the most important. Presented in the order of their importance, each skill that follows builds on the previous one.

Together, they help you raise your self and other awareness, build relationships, elevate your leadership influence, and move people, organizations, and industries toward fulfilling a common goal.

Skill No. 1: Empathy

Forbes reported that researchers cite Empathy as the most important leadership skill.

Oxford Dictionary defines Empathy as "the ability to understand and share the feelings of another."

More than ever before, workplaces now experience growing levels of stress and anxiety among their workforces. This means leaders cannot afford to focus solely on people's work. "It’s time for leaders to address the social issues affecting organizational well-being."

This aligns with our 360 Leadership philosophy that put simply says, you exist in a 360 personal and professional reality where every area of your life affects every other area of your life.

Scientific Research backs this up with findings that show "individuals and groups with raised well-being perform better in their jobs than do those with lower well-being."

The Quickest Way to Develop Empathy

There are many articles and tutorials on how to increase emotional intelligence and empathy. To be sure to actually transfer knowledge to practiced behavior, the quickest way to build empathy is to work with a coach that will help you:

1. Set Empathy as a leadership development priority.

  1. Target specific behavioral actions you can practice.

  2. Track your application progress.

  3. Feedback wins and learns for improvement.

  4. Celebrate milestones and set new ones.

Skill No. 2: Communication

"Communication is the real work of leadership."

- Nitin Nohria.

If you have read the 360 Leadership Newsletter for some time, you already know that we often quote John C. Maxwell's definition of leadership:

"Leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less."

Oxford Dictionary defines influence as "the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something."

Inherent in this definition is the understanding that we influence through communication which is only 7% words. 93% of communication is non-verbal, this includes body language, tone of voice, leadership presence, and other factors that influence people to connect with, trust, and take desired action.

Stephen Covey says, "In the final analysis, what we are communicates far more eloquently than what we say or do."

We can quickly see that if what we are as leaders does not positively communicate values, vision, intent, urgency, and positive expectation, we are unable to influence others to action that leads them to victory.

The Quickest Way to Develop Effective Communication

This Harvard Business School article emphasizes says to be an effective leader, you must excel at communication, it states that communication includes at least eight skills.

Interested in developing all eight of them?

The quickest way to improve your communication skills is to join a communication group such as Toastmasters, which teaches public speaking, communication, and leadership skills.

Leaders who are empathetic excel as communicators. This is because they prioritize human connection and use both verbal and non-verbal cues to inspire and ignite action.

Skill No. 3: Negotiation

Investopedia defines Negotiation as "a strategic discussion intended to resolve an issue in a way that both parties find acceptable."

We negotiate small and big, low and high stakes, personal and professional issues all day, every day.

To discern what is important to each person, what is possible given finite resources, and how to give and take with honor such that each is satisfied, is a complex, time-consuming, and humbling effort. It is, however, one that leaders would be wise and handsomely rewarded to invest in.

This is because Effective Negotiation Skills build relationships, resolve conflict, harness resources, and exponentially increase productivity, performance, and results.

Poor Negotiation Skills, on the other hand, deteriorate relationships, undermine leadership influence, and sabotage any efforts at building together towards fulfilling a common goal.

Since we negotiate all day, every day, it is crucial to build critical Negotiation Skills.

The Quickest Way to Develop Effective Negotiation Skills

Negotiation is a technical discipline that they can best benefit from through instructional learning.

The quickest way to develop Effective Negotiation Skills is to enroll in a Negotiation Course (or purchase textbooks) by qualified and experienced negotiation experts.

Leaders that are empathetic and effective communicators thrive as negotiators.

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