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12 Skills Used by Good Leaders When Building Successful Teams

Leadership plays a crucial role in shaping the success and effectiveness of teams. A skilled leader possesses a diverse set of abilities that empower them to inspire, motivate, and guide individuals towards a common goal. Building a successful team requires not only a clear vision and strategic thinking but also a deep understanding of how to bring out the best in each team member.


In this article, we will explore 12 key skills used by good leaders in the process of building and nurturing successful teams. From motivating and inspiring team members to fostering teamwork and effective communication, these skills form the foundation for creating a high-performing and harmonious work environment.


Throughout the article, we will delve into each leadership skill, offering insights, practical examples, and strategies for improvement. By examining real-world leaders who have exemplified these skills, we will gain valuable perspectives on how to apply them in our own leadership journeys.


Whether you are an aspiring leader, a current manager, or simply interested in understanding the dynamics of successful team-building, this article will provide you with actionable guidance and inspire you to cultivate these essential skills. Let's embark on a journey to explore the multifaceted abilities that contribute to the success of leaders and their teams.


Join us as we delve into the world of motivating, inspiring, negotiating, fostering teamwork, communicating effectively, actively listening, influencing, demonstrating empathy, embracing innovation, practicing honesty, promoting justice, and showing respect—12 essential skills that propel leaders towards building thriving teams and achieving extraordinary outcomes.


Why are leadership skills critical?


Leadership skills are essential in building successful teams because they provide direction, support, effective communication, decision-making, motivation, conflict resolution, and accountability. A skilled leader empowers their team to achieve collective success and creates an environment where individuals can thrive and contribute their best.


What are the top skills of a Good Leader when building successful teams?


These 12 leadership skills, when combined and applied effectively, contribute to building successful teams by fostering motivation, inspiration, effective communication, collaboration, trust, innovation, and positive work culture:


1. Motivating: A leader with motivating solid skills inspires and energizes team members to perform at their best. They understand individual motivations, set challenging goals, provide meaningful feedback, and create a positive work environment that fosters intrinsic motivation and a sense of purpose.


2. Inspiring: An inspiring leader can captivate and ignite passion within team members. They share a compelling vision, articulate the team's goals in an inspiring manner, and lead by example. They inspire others to reach their full potential through their enthusiasm, optimism, and determination.


3. Effective negotiator: A leader skilled in negotiation can navigate conflicts and reach mutually beneficial agreements. They can find common ground, consider diverse perspectives, and facilitate compromise. Effective negotiators maintain positive relationships and focus on win-win outcomes for the team and stakeholders.


4. Fosters teamwork: A leader who fosters teamwork recognizes the value of collaboration and synergy. They create an environment that promotes trust, respect, and open communication among team members. They encourage cooperation, leverage individual strengths, and facilitate collaboration to achieve shared objectives.


5. Clear communicator: A clear communicator ensures that messages are conveyed concisely, accurately, and in a way that resonates with team members. They articulate goals, expectations, and feedback clearly, adapting their communication style to suit the needs of different individuals. Clear communication minimizes misunderstandings and promotes alignment.


6. Active listener: Active listeners are attentive and fully engaged when others speak. They seek to understand perspectives, demonstrate empathy, and validate the concerns and ideas of team members. Active listening fosters trust, encourages open dialogue, and enables effective problem-solving and decision-making.


7. Influential: An influential leader can sway opinions, inspire action, and guide the team towards desired outcomes. They build credibility through expertise and demonstrate integrity in their activities. They motivate others to embrace new ideas, take risks, and pursue innovative approaches through effective communication and persuasion.


8. Empathetic: An empathetic leader understands and acknowledges the emotions and experiences of their team members. They demonstrate compassion, consider different viewpoints, and create a supportive environment. They build trust and enhance team morale and cohesion by showing genuine care and empathy.


9. Innovative: An innovative leader encourages creativity, embraces change, and fosters a culture of innovation. They encourage exploring new ideas, taking calculated risks, and supporting experimentation. By promoting a culture of innovation, leaders inspire their teams to find unique solutions and adapt to evolving challenges.


10. Honest: An honest leader demonstrates integrity and transparency in their words and actions. They uphold high ethical standards and communicate honestly and truthfully with their team. Establishing an environment of trust and credibility fosters open communication and encourages team members' honesty.


11. Just: A just leader treats team members fairly, impartially, and with respect. They make decisions based on merit and objective criteria and ensure everyone is accountable to the same standards. A just leader promotes a sense of equity and fosters a positive and inclusive work environment.


12. Respectful: A respectful leader values their team members' contributions, ideas, and diversity. They create an environment where individuals feel safe to express themselves and are treated with dignity. By modeling respect, leaders inspire mutual respect among team members and foster a culture of collaboration and cooperation.


How to improve your leadership skills


Improving leadership skills is an ongoing process. Seek feedback from your team, reflect on your actions, and continuously seek opportunities for self-improvement and professional development. 

Improving leadership skills requires self-awareness, intentional practice, and a commitment to continuous growth. Here are some ways to enhance each of the leadership skills you mentioned:


1. Motivating:

   - Understand individual motivations: Take the time to learn what motivates each team member and tailor your approach accordingly. Recognize and acknowledge their achievements and provide meaningful feedback to keep them engaged and motivated.

   - Set challenging goals: Set clear and ambitious goals that inspire your team members to stretch their abilities and strive for excellence. Break down larger goals into smaller, achievable milestones to maintain motivation and momentum.


2. Inspiring:

   - Share a compelling vision: Communicate a vision that resonates with your team members' values and aspirations. Clearly articulate their work's purpose, benefits, and potential impact to ignite their passion and commitment.

   - Lead by example: Be a role model by consistently demonstrating the values and behaviors you expect from your team. Show enthusiasm, resilience, and a positive attitude even in challenging situations.


3. Effective negotiator:

   - Develop active listening skills: Practice active listening to understand others' perspectives, needs, and concerns. This will help you find common ground and explore mutually beneficial negotiation solutions.

   - Seek win-win outcomes: Strive for solutions that meet the interests of all parties involved. Focus on building relationships and maintaining open lines of communication to foster a collaborative negotiation process.


4. Fosters teamwork:

   - Promote a collaborative culture: Encourage open communication, trust, and respect among team members. Create opportunities for collaboration through team-building activities, cross-functional projects, and shared goals.

   - Celebrate collective achievements: Recognize and celebrate successes as a team. Highlight each individual's contributions and emphasize teamwork's value in accomplishing goals.


5. Clear communicator:

   - Practice clarity and brevity: Hone your communication skills to deliver concise and easily understandable messages. Avoid jargon and complexity, ensuring your instructions, expectations, and feedback are clear and unambiguous.

   - Adapt your communication style: Tailor your communication approach to different individuals and situations. Consider your team members' preferences and communication styles and adjust accordingly to ensure adequate understanding and engagement.


6. Active listener:

   - Practice active listening techniques: Focus on the speaker, maintain eye contact, and avoid interruptions. Demonstrate empathy and seek clarification when needed. Summarize and reflect on what has been said to ensure accurate understanding.

   - Provide space for open dialogue: Create a safe and non-judgmental environment where team members feel comfortable expressing their thoughts, concerns, and ideas. Encourage open discussions and be receptive to feedback.


7. Influential:

   - Build credibility: Continuously develop your expertise and knowledge in your field. Be reliable, fulfill your commitments, and demonstrate competence to gain the trust and respect of others.

   - Develop persuasive communication skills: Enhance your ability to articulate your ideas effectively and convincingly. Utilize storytelling, data, and logical reasoning to influence and inspire others.


8. Empathetic:

   - Cultivate empathy: Practice putting yourself in others' shoes and genuinely seek to understand their emotions, perspectives, and needs. Show empathy through active listening, validation, and acknowledgment of their experiences.

   - Practice compassion: Demonstrate care and support for your team members. Be approachable and available when they need assistance, guidance, or a listening ear.


9. Innovative:

   - Encourage a culture of innovation: Foster an environment where creativity and new ideas are valued. Encourage risk-taking, experimentation, and learning from failures. Provide resources and opportunities for brainstorming and exploring innovative solutions.

   - Stay curious and embrace learning: Continuously seek new knowledge and stay updated on industry trends and emerging technologies. Encourage your team members to engage in continuous learning and provide them with avenues for professional development.


10. Honest:

    - Be transparent: Foster a culture of open and honest communication. Share relevant information, updates, and decisions promptly and transparently, even when the news may be challenging.

    - Lead by example: Demonstrate integrity in your words and actions. Be honest, admit mistakes, and take responsibility for your actions. Encourage a culture of honesty and accountability among your team members.


11. Just:

    - Ensure fairness: Treat all team members equitably and consistently. Base decisions on objective criteria and merit rather than personal bias or favoritism.

    - Communicate the rationale: Clearly communicate the reasoning behind decisions and actions, ensuring that team members understand the fairness and logic behind them.


12. Respectful:

    - Practice active respect: Treat everyone with dignity, regardless of their position, background, or differences. Show appreciation for diverse perspectives and create an inclusive environment where all team members feel valued.

    - Foster a culture of respect: Set expectations for respectful behavior and promptly address any instances of disrespect. Encourage collaboration, teamwork, and mutual support among team members.


Demonstrating your leadership skills


Demonstrating these leadership skills consistently and authentically will positively impact your team, fostering collaboration, trust, and high performance. To effectively demonstrate these leadership skills, here are practical ways to showcase each skill:


1. Motivating:

   - Set clear goals and communicate the vision to your team.

   - Recognize and celebrate achievements and milestones.

   - Provide constructive feedback and support individual growth.

   - Lead by example and display enthusiasm and passion for the work.


2. Inspiring:

   - Communicate a compelling vision that resonates with team members.

   - Share success stories and examples of how their work contributes to the bigger picture.

   - Provide mentorship and guidance to help individuals achieve their full potential.

   - Express belief in their abilities and encourage them to overcome challenges.


3. Effective negotiator:

   - Listen actively to understand the needs and perspectives of all parties involved.

   - Seek win-win solutions by identifying common interests and areas of agreement.

   - Communicate clearly and persuasively to convey the benefits of proposed solutions.

   - Maintain a respectful and collaborative approach throughout negotiations.


4. Fosters teamwork:

   - Encourage open communication and active participation within the team.

   - Foster a supportive and inclusive environment where everyone feels valued.

   - Facilitate team-building activities and encourage collaboration on projects.

   - Recognize and leverage individual strengths to achieve shared goals.


5. Clear communicator:

   - Articulate goals, expectations, and instructions clearly and concisely.

   - Use appropriate communication channels and adjust your style to suit the audience.

   - Provide regular updates and ensure everyone is informed about relevant information.

   - Encourage two-way communication and address questions and concerns promptly.


6. Active listener:

   - Practice active listening by giving your full attention and maintaining eye contact.

   - Ask clarifying questions to ensure understanding and show genuine interest.

   - Paraphrase and summarize what others have said to demonstrate comprehension.

   - Avoid interrupting and provide a safe space for open and honest dialogue.


7. Influential:

   - Build credibility through expertise and professionalism in your field.

   - Share compelling stories, data, and evidence to support your ideas.

   - Engage and inspire others through compelling storytelling and passionate communication.

   - Cultivate solid relationships and networks to amplify your influence.


8. Empathetic:

   - Show genuine care and concern for the well-being of your team members.

   - Listen actively and validate their emotions and experiences.

   - Provide support and assistance when needed, and be responsive to their needs.

   - Display empathy through understanding and accommodating personal circumstances.


9. Innovative:

   - Encourage and welcome new ideas from team members.

   - Foster a culture of experimentation and learning from failures.

   - Support and provide resources for creative thinking and problem-solving.

   - Embrace and implement innovative solutions that drive growth and improvement.


10. Honest:

    - Communicate truthfully and transparently, even when delivering complex messages.

    - Admit mistakes and take responsibility for your actions.

    - Establish trust by being consistent and reliable in your words and behavior.

    - Encourage open and honest communication within the team.


11. Just:

    - Make decisions based on fairness, objectivity, and merit.

    - Communicate decision-making processes and criteria to ensure transparency.

    - Treat team members equitably and avoid favoritism or bias.

    - Address conflicts or grievances promptly and impartially.


12. Respectful:

    - Treat everyone with respect and dignity, regardless of their role or background.

    - Actively listen to and value diverse perspectives and opinions.

    - Foster an inclusive environment that appreciates and embraces differences.

    - Set a positive example by displaying respectful behavior towards others.


Real-world examples of leaders who built successful teams


These leaders have significantly impacted by leveraging their leadership skills to build successful teams and organizations, leaving a lasting legacy in their respective fields.


1. Motivating:

   - Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, is known for his ability to motivate and inspire his teams. He sets audacious goals and communicates a compelling vision of the future, which instills a sense of purpose and determination in his employees.


2. Inspiring:

   - Indra Nooyi, former CEO of PepsiCo, is widely recognized for her inspirational leadership. She transformed PepsiCo's culture by emphasizing the importance of diversity, inclusivity, and sustainability, inspiring her team members to embrace these values and work towards shared goals.


3. Effective negotiator:

   - Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors, has demonstrated strong negotiation skills in steering the company through complex challenges. She successfully negotiated labor agreements, resolve disputes with suppliers, and led the company through significant transformations while ensuring mutually beneficial outcomes.


4. Fosters teamwork:

   - Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, has fostered a culture of collaboration and teamwork within the company. He emphasizes the importance of cross-functional collaboration and has encouraged the integration of diverse perspectives to drive innovation and success.


5. Clear communicator:

   - Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, is known for her exceptional communication skills. She effectively communicates the company's vision, goals, and strategies and is known for simplifying complex concepts and providing clear direction to her team members.


6. Active listener:

   - Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and Alphabet, is recognized for his active listening skills. He creates an open and inclusive environment where employees feel comfortable sharing their ideas and concerns. Pichai actively seeks feedback and engages in meaningful dialogue with his teams.


7. Influential:

   - Angela Merkel, the former Chancellor of Germany, has been a highly influential leader on the global stage. Her diplomatic skills, strategic vision, and ability to build alliances have allowed her to navigate complex political landscapes and drive significant change.


8. Empathetic:

   - Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, is known for his empathetic leadership style. He demonstrates care and concern for his employees, valuing their well-being and fostering a sense of belonging. Cook has introduced initiatives to promote employee wellness, diversity, and inclusivity.


9. Innovative:

   - Jeff Bezos, founder and former CEO of Amazon, is renowned for his innovative leadership. Under his guidance, Amazon has disrupted multiple industries and introduced groundbreaking innovations such as Amazon Web Services and Kindle.


10. Honest:

    - Alan Mulally, former CEO of Ford Motor Company, is admired for his honesty and transparency. He implemented a culture of open communication and held regular "business plan review" meetings where executives openly discussed challenges, fostering an environment of trust and accountability.


11. Just:

    - Ruth Bader Ginsburg, former Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, exemplified a commitment to justice. She made decisions based on principles of equality, fairness, and the rule of law and advocated for social justice throughout her career.


12. Respectful:

    - Mary Barra mentioned earlier as an effective negotiator, also demonstrates high respect toward her employees. She actively listens to their concerns, values their contributions, and promotes a culture of mutual respect within General Motors.


As Ben Yoskovitz, co-author of Lean Analytics, wrote:
“Finding a correlation between two metrics is a good thing. Correlations can help you predict what will happen. But finding the cause of something means you can change it. Usually, causations aren’t simple one-to-one relationships–there are lots of factors at play, but even a degree of causality is valuable.
You prove causality by finding a correlation, then running experiments where you control the other variables and measure the difference. It’s hard to do, but causality is really an analytics superpower–it gives you the power to hack the future.”

Below you can read an abridged version of the results of our VUCA poll “What qualities and abilities do good leaders use when building successful teams?“. The full results of our VUCA poll “What qualities and abilities do good leaders use when building successful teams?“ are available for free in the FAQ section after login or registration.

What qualities and abilities do good leaders use when building successful teams?

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