Over the years, the world has produced a large number of influential leaders unique in their own right. Leaders, as we all perceive, are the torchbearers of new ideas. Their work does not end with the creation of a new idea as they need to inspire their followers to continue on the path traced by them. I have always pondered over this question – What “special” qualities did an Abraham Lincoln or a Martin Luther King possess to make them exponents in their own field and remain immortal in the hearts of their billions of followers.
Well, interpersonal skills may have been quintessential to the making of these leaders. A leader, by dint of his interpersonal skills captivates the minds of his followers.
As a leader, you also need to possess these skills which will help you become effective at the workplace. Take a look at each of these basic interpersonal skills and how they contribute to the making of an effective leader.
Communication skills: Many leaders possess the gift of the gab which makes them eloquent speakers. It is all about articulating their ideas in a meaningful way, both written and verbal.
- Help communicate the vision statement to gain support and accomplish goals
- Increase the credibility of the leader and instructions become easier to follow
An example would be that, when you converse with your client, your subordinates, or even your fellow employees, you need to clearly convey your thoughts because what you say is a significant way of getting our message across and you might not want to convey something unintentional. Also, having good communication skills allows you to work more effectively in groups and teams.
Facilitating skills: Liaise with team-members and arrive at the best possible solution. There could be diverse ideas and perspectives for any single agenda, but an effective leader will work towards reaching a consensus.
- Ensure that discussions take place in a structured manner without losing sight of the outcome
- Act as an icebreaker by engaging followers and keeping up the momentum
Leadership skills: Inspire others to accomplish the planned goals with commitment and dedication. It also means leading followers with a clear-cut direction.
- Leaders are not born, they are made. Leadership skills include the entire gamut of individual skills taken as a whole.
- They help build trust in the minds of the followers.
- Leadership skills can create a self-motivated team, making them aware of the purpose and thus streamlining the process in order to accomplish goals.
For instance, a senior employee can guide and motivate his team to achieve the target given to them.
Mentoring skills: It involves providing constructive guidance wisely as and when required. This helps followers recover from any glitches or stumbling blocks.
- It gives the chance to know the other person well.
- It gives a fair idea of where to draw the line.
As a senior employee in the organization, you can mentor training programs and focus on guiding new hires by sharing skills, knowledge, and insights to help them develop their careers. This helps employees feel more confident and self-supporting.
Negotiation skills: Resolve any conflicts by agreeing to terms acceptable to both parties. Think of a win-win situation, create and maintain a cordial relationship with others. Having good negotiation skills helps in understanding the client better and convincing him for a win-win situation.
- Teach one to comprehend what others are saying
- Inculcate the perspective of mutual gain
- Prepare one to deal with a given situation logically
Many of us might have faced such situations at the workplace where a disagreement arises due to differing needs. Especially, when you are convincing your client and do not want him to get disheartened, you try to negotiate and create a win-win situation for both of you. This is where you try to negotiate and reach to conclusion without affecting future agreements.
Influence and Motivation skills: It is a conglomeration of both communication and leadership skills. While, through good communication one can influence and persuade others, through leadership skills one can demonstrate his/her motivational skills which boost the spirits of the followers. Motivate employees depending on individual personalities.
- Motivational skills instill confidence in the minds of the followers.
- They help inspire followers, instead of commanding them.
As an example when a newly hired employee joins the organization, he/she might initially feel a bit nervous and apprehensive of coping up with the work. In such a situation, you should guide and provide all the support to make him feel confident that he can perform well.
Decision-making skills: A leader has to make countless decisions. A wrong decision may prove costly while a right decision at the crucial time may bring favorable results.
- Tackle issues as and when required without conflict.
- Steer the dynamics of the team “to the next level”.
As a leader, you need to be a strong decision-maker, keeping in mind all the scheduled work, meetings, etc. Decision-making involves choosing between possible solutions to a problem. Some factors such as not having proper information, too many people involved, or lacking interest in the subject can affect the decision-making process.
Planning: Planning involves taking certain strategic decisions about the future. Planning includes the list of activities and the contingency plan that needs to be carried forward.
- Proper planning is like choosing the right track to get onto.
- With the correct direction in mind, you can move towards the fulfillment of the goal.
- It also helps a leader organize his/her agenda by arranging “first things first”.
As a leader, you need to plan effectively. For instance, plan the project budget for developing a project, determine the overall profits, etc.
Integrity: A leader builds trust and this fosters collaboration and facilitates sharing of information. This way, he creates a solid team that supports each other’s views.
- Integrity means honesty, fairness, and creating good relationships. It is about personal values that cannot be compromised.
- Integrity speaks volumes about emotional intelligence.
Team work: It involves co-operating with fellow members while nurturing their aspirations. Through team work, a leader develops a sense of collaboration while working with his peers and subordinates.
- It teaches the art of delegating work among fellow members.
- It derives the support of others by emphasizing their good qualities.
You always should aim to work as one team with collaboration and if there are any misunderstandings or issues in your team, you should be the guide and help them solve the problems so that the team feels motivated by your support.
Stress management: A leader manages stress effectively.
- It teaches a leader to develop the ability to bounce back from setbacks without dwelling on negative thoughts.
- It also develops the habit of being patient in any situation.
One of the best ways to avoid stress is by control and prevention. It can’t always be controlled or prevented and in such cases, you should be patient enough to hold on and let all things come under control, without letting the negative factors affect you.
Are leaders born or made? The debate is ongoing. As for me, I feel leaders learn through experience, through a lot of trial and error in their own lives. Hence, I think leadership is not something mystical but something to be acquired with experience.