Skills of a successful leader

As a leader, you are likely to need some key skills. You may not have all of these skills right now, but if you are aware of your own strengths and weaknesses you can take steps to develop the skills you don't have.


A successful leader sets a good example. Act as a role model for your team, and don't be afraid to pitch in and help out when needed. Your team will respond well to your leadership if you are willing to contribute.

If you show respect to your employees, thanking them for their work and complimenting them on their successes, they will be far more likely to respect you in return.


Active listening

You can establish excellent working relationships just by listening to staff and clients. An active listener focuses on what the speaker is saying, regularly paraphrasing to check that they've received the speaker's intended message.

Body language awareness

Be sure that your words match your body language. People read a lot into gestures and eye contact, and they will be far more responsive if what you say matches your posture, expressions and other movements.


The ability to learn new skills is crucial for any leader. If you go into business believing you have nothing more to learn, you will restrict your ability to grow and adapt to change. Always be on the lookout for ways to improve your skills, through knowledge and observation. Seek more formal training where necessary.

Analytical skills

Decision makers need to understand and analyse information presented to them before making any key decisions. If a problem arises, you need to be able to analyse business processes to find out what is going wrong, then try to figure out how to fix it. Your recommendations to management could have an effect on the future prospects of the business.

Remember that changing a process or fixing a problem could affect another area of the business now or further down the line.


You must be ready to adapt to changing circumstances. A successful leader needs to continually anticipate, evaluate and remain open-minded and flexible. Encourage innovative ideas, and take advantage of changing technology, such as social media.

Organisational skills

Be consistent and systematic in how you go about organising projects by:

  • setting expectations
  • delegating tasks
  • supporting your team
  • fixing deadlines
  • evaluating alternatives.

What are your current skills?

To help you to discover your current skills and weaknesses, you can complete the business readiness health check.

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