When we first start our career, we focus on cultivating hard skills or technical skills necessary to do our jobs well. That’s a significant initial step, but as we progress in our career and grow into management roles, the importance of cultivating effective leadership skills will grow apparent. Below are the 3 essentials leadership skills that will help you build your career or get you ready to become a strong leader.
Be comfortable with uncomfortable conversations
Effective leaders will one time, or another need to address difficult or touchy subjects with their direct reports. The ability to sort out difficult or uncomfortable issues is an essential leadership skill. Greg Isenberg, the founder, and CEO of messaging app Islands says, “It starts with empathy. It’s about the ability to understand and speak to the feelings of others.”
When you need to have a difficult conversation, remember that the other party is also human so connect with them sincerely. Rip Gerber, Chief Marketing and Alliance Officer at cloud CRM company Vlocity suggests, “Tell them, ‘I have been struggling with how to have this conversation, so it would be great if we could help each other get through it.”
Learn to unplug
“Operating at a senior level is highly stressful,” says Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, founder and Chairman of talent marketplace the Boardlist and Board Director at Urban Outfitters, Trip Advisor, and Ericsson. “Learning to turn off your mind is essential to preventing burnout and having the resilience required to achieve long-term success,” she explains.
This is great advice at any level of the corporate leader and not solely just for leaders. Learning to tune off or unplug is key to long-term success in any role or any career. Aside from tuning out, you can cultivate having an inner calm by engaging in certain calming activities during your workday such as walking to work, lunching outdoors, having a short poetry break or praying.
Cultivate a sense
Cultivating a sense of perspective isn’t something many of us are taught early in our careers. Fundamentally, perspective requires recognizing your limitations as well as those of the people you work with–and treating both with empathy. Things might not work out as planned and people might end up disappointing you along the way. You grow, and you learn more about yourself as well as others that you work with.
As Isenberg, the founder and CEO of messaging app Islands puts it, “Remembering only so much is in your control, enables non-reaction when someone or a situation disappoints.” This is a powerful soft skill to practice before you’re put in charge of a team. Getting a personal support network is a great way to help you cultivate perspective.
When things get overwhelming, seek out friends or family that you can speak and confide with. Take the time to talk it out. “It’s really a matter of building up a network of people you can depend on to keep you ‘real’ and grounded, and not panicked,” Kirstine Stewart, President and CRO at digital innovation agency TribalScale reflects.
Monica Leong is a storyteller at heart. Graduated with a Journalism and Public Relations degree, she is currently working in corporate communications and also contributes as a freelance writer and editor. Before entering the corporate world, she worked in female lifestyle magazines such as Marie Claire, CLEO, and PEARL as an editor and a features writer. Monica is passionate about writing and working on a short story and flash fiction anthology.