Posted On September 15, 2015 By Peter Elliott

You’ve worked hard and learnt a lot, and you’re storming up the corporate career ladder at a good pace. Good for you! If you’re in a management role and doing well, you’ve probably got your eye on the future and are thinking “what next?”

The skills that have got you this far are a great foundation for success, but you’re going to need more if you want to go further and become a true leader. Why? Because there’s a difference between being a great manager and being a great leader.

Understanding what it means to be a leader and building the key capabilities you’ll need to be successful in the role is the first step.

You’ll have your own natural leadership style, that only needs to be uncovered and understood, but you’ll need to master 5 critical competencies to be able to lead confidently and effectively. It shouldn’t surprise you that most of them leverage strong communication skills.

The 5 critical leadership competencies

Competency 1: Goal-orientated

How good are you at identifying specific and measurable goals, creating a path to get there and clearly communicating that to others?

An effective leader understands the need to spend time regularly planning and reviewing their personal and professional goals so that the road ahead is clear. They communicate individual goals with each team member to make sure everyone understands the direction they’re heading, and how they can contribute to overall success.

Top tips for success

  • Create SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely) goals so you and your team can focus on achieving long and short term objectives.
  • Develop specific action plans and schedule tasks so that goals become concrete and attainable.

Competency 2: Relationship Builder

How well do you build fruitful working relationships with your team members and communicate your expectations to them?

Great leaders build open and honest relationships with their team members by showing genuine interest in them and listening to their ideas, problems and needs – whether they occur inside or outside the office. They are confident, approachable and supportive managers who regularly communicate expectations and offer constructive feedback when needed.

Top tips for success

  • Brush up on your listening and questioning skills so you can build a deeper understanding of those you lead.
  • Match and mirror communications and behaviours to build rapid rapport and create trusting relationships.

Competency 3: Big Picture Thinker

How much do you step back from the day-to-day operations to look at your business from a strategic perspective?

It’s essential that leaders consistently take time away from day-to-day tasks to review and evaluate the progress of the business from a management perspective. This provides the time and space for them to come up with solutions to long term issues and challenges and create new ideas and opportunities.

Top tips for success

  • Develop a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis for your business area so you can forge a strategic direction for your team.
  • Imagine viewing your workplace from a balcony, with your team on the dancefloor below so you develop a wider perspective.

Competency 4: Positive Promoter

How much does your appearance, behaviour, language and thinking authentically align with and support your organisation?

The best leaders are role models for their organisation and set a good example for their

team to follow. They speak positively, behave professionally, help their colleagues out and support their organisation right down to the small things like dress code. Their own values match their company culture and they radiate a positive attitude in the workplace.

Top tips for success

  • Use positive language so that you create an atmosphere of possibility and progress
  • Adopt a can-do attitude, particularly in the face of adversity, so that you role model proactive behaviour

Competency 5: Delegator

Can you identify and hand over tasks to another person to complete effectively?

Delegating appropriate tasks to others helps free up time for thinking, planning and leading the team. Effective leaders are good at giving clear and specific instructions to the person they’re delegating to and making sure they have the support they need to carry out the task at hand. This also helps grow that team member’s skills and abilities.

Top tips for success

  • When delegating tasks, be specific about the “what, when and how” so your team are crystal clear on your intentions.
  • See delegation as a development opportunity for your team members so you feel more at ease with handing over control.

Are you confident yet in these leadership essentials?

You may already display some leadership competencies but improving your proficiency in these 5 areas is important for your career growth. Inspiring leaders get noticed in their organisations and are in demand across all industries and disciplines.

If you’d like to make that first step to becoming a confident and sought-after leader, why not follow our short online Leadership Essentials course or come and join a classroom session. We’ll help you understand your own leadership style, give you the knowledge and tools to grow your skills and you’ll leave with an action plan to keep you right on track.