What skills are essential to great leadership?
Traditional thinking places leadership skills into three categories, technical, conceptual, and human. According to this model, as leaders progress in their careers, the technical abilities begin to take less importance over developing strong conceptual skills. However, the human element is always present and never diminishing in importance.
When I look at this model, I translate technical into tactical, conceptual into strategic and place the human skills as the binder between the two. Leadership must always maintain a sound tactical basis; they need to know what their teams are doing and act as the first-line authority should any problems or confusion arise. Just the same, the best leaders maintain an in-depth strategic knowledge, they understand what their task is, and how it affects or is affected by a multitude of different elements, both internal and external to their organization.
It is the human factor which enables this. Today’s tasks in business are becoming ever more complex, requiring a higher degree of specialization than ever before. Great leaders can take these functions, assign them to the right people, then align these people towards executing and accomplishing the broader mission of the organization. Interpersonal skills are critical here; leaders must be effective delegators, communicators, and influencers.
Leadership at all levels requires both tactical and strategic knowledge. Building the personal, or soft-skills, provides the bridge for leaders to bring these skills to their teams and expertly guide and facilitate them towards higher levels of success.
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