Top 10 Executive Leadership Skills

Executive leadership programs or leadership trainings are useful in many aspects. The skills you learned from a leadership training course can apply to your career, for your own personal development, as well as for your own personal family life.

Do not look down on these leadership skills and capabilities, many people find it helpful and very influential on their personality after they had the training.

Leadership Skills for Everybody

Below are the 10 leadership skills that top leadership coaching companies used in their executive leadership development courses.

The below skills are applicable to everyone, whether you are the CEO or not, as you can apply the same leadership skill even if you are just leading your own children through their growth.

1. Trust Building

Building trust, the most important leadership competence, yet at the same time, the most difficult to achieve. Many of the following leadership skills are also built based on trust and mutual understanding.

To continuously building trust within your team and other departments, you can apply the below tips:

a. Open Door policy - you have to trust your employees in the first place before getting their trust. Be open and honest in discussing company policies, conflicting situations and value their ideas by dong active follow-ups.

b. Actively listen and paraphrase points to demonstrate your understand. Only listen but not taken the points out from the conversation can be seen as not trusting the ideas of your employees.

c. Make sure you handle issues fairly. Integrity is crucial to have people trusting in you.

d. Constantly ask for feedbacks from your employees on your approach in daily communication and conflict handling. At the same time give constructive feedback to your employee and help them to grow personally.

2. Communicating

Communication is vital for everyone and is of top importance for any leaders. Communicating with appropriate manner as noted below can make a huge difference:

a. Use appropriate language, tone and channels (written/ spoken) in different situations. Do not stick to one general route to communicate with everyone as that might cause conflicts due to difference in mentality.

b. Communicate regularly with your subordinates in an open and honest manner. Encourage two-way communication in contrast with one-way delegation.

c. Make sure that information is delivered correctly, without unnecessary alternations, to all levels within your organization.

3. Cooperating

As a leader, cooperating with your own team, other departments and boost the collaboration between your team members and other staff within the company, and at the same time cooperate with people outside of your company, to achieve win-win situation and build interdependency between different skill sets, by applying the below tips:

a. Hold team-building events within and outside of your own team. Cross-department team events break the ice between teams and build personal relationship among teams

b. Take helicopter view of issues and involve your team and other team leaders in decision-making.

c. Initiate and/ or participant in cross-functional projects to tackle shared concerns, while at the same time learn from the best practices from other departments

d. Actively discuss both formally and informally with colleagues from other departments to understand their mentality and their expertise

4. Risk Managing

Risk management is something easier said than done. Make use of the below tips:

a. For all projects/ works you are taking up yourself or with the team, brainstorm on risk factors and record them down for reference and further actions.

b. Base on the trust you’ve built with your team members, encourage them to report any possible risk that they identify daily. Be honest and do not finger point to any late notice of a risk.

c. Seek information from a wide range of sources and evaluate risk from all perspectives.

5. Understand Issues

When you have received information, the next step is to understanding it thoroughly and then seek for a proper solution. You can apply below tips to understand issues better:

a. Gather ideas from team members in meetings and make use of tools like flip chart to map out the details of issue.

b. Take a step back and look at issues from different angles. If you are unfamiliar with other perspectives, discuss with other departments to find out their opinion on their perspective.

c. Be sensitive to the content of informal conversations and follow-up with staff on certain implications that you can derive from the conversation.

d. Be alert on the business trend of your industry by reading relevant magazines and websites.

6. Solution Seeking

A leader is at a perfect position in showing your subordinates that solving an issue with feasible solution is the ultimate aim.

a. Use the information you have gathered and understood, develop several solution scenarios together with your team members.

b.  Always prepare contingency plans to back up the solution. This is also part of your risk management.

c. Use high level and long-term views and visions to understand all the possible implications of your solution.

7. Influencing People

As a leader, you are the one who can direct your fellow employees and influence them in making decisions. Rule of thumb - always try achieving 'win-win' agreement whenever possible, by assertively persuading people around you.

Below are some tips in how to influence people:

a. Present and support your viewpoint in various formats to appeal to different audience, like graphs, tables and clear and precise wording.

b. Build relationship constantly with your own direct reports as well as other departments for political supports in times when you need to introduce ideas and changes. You can build this up by supporting, protecting and appreciating other's idea in meetings and add values by paraphrasing their original idea.

c. When addressing issues, be open and show your willingness in dealing with difficult situations. This can show your understanding and at the same time ask for understand and interest from your counterpart, and in turn influence their decision-making.

8. Inspiring People

One of the major roles of a leader is to inspire and guide your subordinates. Be open and share your value with others, let people understand that you welcome changes and improvements by applying the below tips:

a. Build a vision with your team and share common values - show your trust in your team that they are capable in achieving the vision. Be open to discuss different visions and listen for new ideas as that might add value to your original idea.

b. Share successful stories with your team and outside of the team. Do not hesitate to praise good work. This can inspire others to achieve the same.

c. Conduct regular individual meetings with each staff - reconfirm their individual ability and confidence. Provide each staff a personal coaching plan, helping them to achieve their best.

d. Give your staff opportunities in challenging your decision and let them express ideas freely. If needed, keep it confidential and allow completely free channel of speech.

9. Developing People

As the head leading a team, your team members have expectation on you to help them grow in their career and personally. Popular and respected leaders are those who do not mind to give personal tips in coaching others. Below tips can help you in developing your people:

a. Develop personal development plan with individual employees and coach them in career development as well as soft skills like communication skill. Set measurable goals in the plan and review the plan regularly together with the staff. 

b. Proactive offer help and guidance when you notice your staff needs coaching. Do not wait until your employee explode with a resignation letter.

c. Work with HR or training departments to give specific trainings that serve the needs of your staff.

d. Encourage mentoring and liaise with HR and other team leaders to act as mentors for fellow staff.

10. Continuous Improving

One important quality of a leader is to be able to improve the current situation continuously. You can follow the below tips in achieving continuous improvement:

a. Constantly review existing standards, rules and policies, established within and outside of your responsible area, as that might also affect the company's efficiency as a whole.

b. Share and discuss your strategy plan and vision with team members and set goals to achieve. Review the plans periodically to identify what can be improved.

c. Share example of high quality work and brainstorm to get ideas in raising general quality of work. Establish mass communications like newsletters within and outside of the team where your team members can share their experience and compliments received from customers and/or colleagues.

d. Critically looking at the organizational structure and give recommendations to re-design job and skill match, in order to maximize skill-set within the company and boost motivation.

Apply the Skills outside of Work as well

The above are the outline of 10 basic leadership skills that coaching organizations used in their leadership development programs. These are also skills that you can use in your daily life! Check out various books and websites if you are interested in understanding more.

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3 comments

TheToddMan profile image

TheToddMan 5 years ago from Wichita, KS

I'm delighted you put trust building as #1 on your list. I wholeheartedly agree its the single most important executive leadership skill.

Great hub!


Brutus Orkney profile image

Brutus Orkney 5 years ago from AZ

Critical relationships...also very important when one begins to near the top of a corporate chain. The old adage, "It's not what you know, it's who you know," may never be as important or true as when the business org chart includes yourself up near the top. Great article, insightful and certainly useful...thanks for that, M!!


tipstoretireearly profile image

tipstoretireearly 4 years ago from New York

Another executive leadership skill is to identify the top priorities for the organization, and then continuously focus everyone's actions towards accomplishing them. Some great leaders pick, say, the top 3 priorities for the year, and then drive those 3 priorities throughout the year.

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