When you have the privilege and responsibility of leading a company, having the right skillset is vital to success. Business owners and managers need to understand the difference between a leader and a boss and which skills distinguish the two. Below is a personally curated, tried-and-tested list of the 10 most important leadership skills needed to succeed in business and team-building.

  1. Ability to Lead
    This skill refers to how clearly a leader sees his or her vision, shares it with employees, and inspires them to support that vision. The ability to lead also entails how well a leader can motivate employees in order to get the desired business results. For example, each employee should understand how his or her job contributes to the company’s overarching goals. Instilling this information is part of a leader’s responsibility, and will help employees feel motivated and have a sense of purpose.
  2. Effective Communication
    All great leaders are good communicators. They must understand how to get a point across, describe the company vision to their employees, make sure daily tasks are getting done, facilitate office conversations, and know when it’s the right time or the wrong time for a meeting. Leaders must also be able to communicate what a job entails before someone is hired, and explain the reasons for firing someone. For example, if the team has an unusually busy time coming up, a leader might email a timetable listing the most important tasks to make sure team members understand what needs to be done.
  3. Relationship Building
    Creating and fostering relationships with both employees and clients is one of the marks of a leader who is truly dedicated to his or her position and company. It takes an investment of time, emotion, and effort to maintain business relationships, and this isn’t overlooked by your team members or customers. These relationships will help inspire your team to work harder, possibly even going beyond their job responsibilities. A team member who feels personally mentored by his or her manager is more likely to go the extra mile for that manager.
  4. Industry Expertise
    It is difficult and demotivating to follow a leader who doesn’t understand what he or she is doing or is less qualified than the employees. Great leaders must truly lead; both in the workplace and in their respective fields. They must be a voice of authority that clients, employees, and other industry professionals look to and respect. This expertise must also drive important decisions and help them understand what is and isn’t possible for each position. For example, a good website design leader won’t ask his or her team to build a website function that isn’t feasible. Instead, the leader should suggest an alternative, possibly better solution.
  5. Perceptive of Team Needs
    In addition to having important leadership skills, managers must make sure their teams also have the skills they need to succeed. Leaders should be able to determine the most vital skills for a position, and either find someone who already has those skills or hire someone who is a good company fit and then train them. Great leaders can identify all of the skills within the scope of a role, and then ensure that the new team member has the proper training and certifications, when applicable. You must also understand what your team needs in terms of equipment and logistics. For example, a leader shouldn’t ask employees to do intense Web-based research with a slow, outdated computer.
  6. Trustworthiness
    The most trusted leaders display integrity and honesty, gaining the trust and respect of their employees and clients. Being seen as trustworthy will increase your team members’ commitment to their goals, and inspire their best efforts. Many factors go into being seen as trustworthy, including competence and perceived intent. Being trusted by your team also helps the communication process, because team members will be more likely to take risks during brainstorming sessions and come to you with any problems that are hindering their work.
  7. Time Management
    Although time management is often seen as an important skill for employees, it’s even more important for leaders. Great leaders not only have to manage their own time, they have to manage an entire company’s time and efforts. Time management for leaders entails knowing how and where to spend their own time, understanding how employees spend their time, and what objectives each department should spend its time on. Leaders must decide where to invest the company’s time and resources; which clients have a good return-on-investment; which employees need a little more mentoring; which business ventures will benefit customers, and so on.
  8. Commitment
    Great leaders are committed to their business, their employees, and their customers. They understand that what makes a product or service great is an ongoing commitment to excellence. A leader who isn’t committed to his or her team may end up abusing them; one who isn’t committed to a company shouldn’t be leading it; and a lack of commitment to customers means that customer service will decline. For example, if leaders don’t listen to customer complaints and suggestions, innovation and satisfaction standards will go down.
  9. Confidence
    Confidence inspires trust and helps leaders present themselves and their company well. Leaders need confidence in order to make important decisions and stick to them. There is a lot of pressure in business for leaders to be decisive, and changing your mind often is usually detrimental. For example, deciding to offer a new product then cancelling it once the research and development has started will cost the business time and money, at the very least.
  10. Problem Solving
    Last but certainly not least comes problem-solving skills. All leaders must know how to solve problems for their team and company. The best companies solve a particular problem for their clients, and the best leaders solve problems at work. For example, if an employee comes to you with a problem, your number one goal as a leader is to solve that problem in the best interest of both the company and employee. Turning problems around for an employee can also inspire loyalty and retention.

All ten factors contribute to a well-rounded and highly effective leader. Consider each of these elements as you move forward into becoming the best leader you can be.

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Annie Grace Wilson

Annie Grace Wilson is a Public Relations Specialist for Diversity Best Practices. She regularly produces content for a variety of blogs that cover topics from leadership to team training.


  • Avatar Brian K. says:

    For me, the best example of productive relationship building is offered by the movie “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.” A young employee goes to extremes to take revenge on the person he blames for his mentor’s financial collapse. Such stories make me think that a business is not always about making money.

  • Avatar Carla Lewis says:

    Call me a cynic, but I still believe that no matter how much you learn and try to do everything that they say a true leader must do, you won’t become one if you weren’t born with leadership qualities. Most of all, I doubt that you can learn confidence and trustworthiness – these must come naturally.

  • Avatar Pam L. says:

    Which is more effective: the ability to subordinate others or the ability to coordinate their achievements? These skills are equal in effort but different in results. Someone who has the talent to combine the contributions of tens or hundreds of employees with fruitful results will naturally win the people’s respect. Those who take pains to get recognition have little strength left for making money.

  • Avatar girish says:

    All human being born equality. Identities got created due to various happenings, the upbringing of society, etc. etc.

    To get into a TRUE leadership role, one should UNLEARN all these PERSONALITES… There are ways to get there. Knowledge, educational qualifications or inherited business or position is not LEADERSHIP.

  • Avatar Coral J. says:

    I would like to chat with Ms. Annie Grace Wilson.

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