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Becoming a leader isn’t as simple as knowing a business inside out. The best leaders have a variety of skills, as well as their business acumen, in order to get ahead. Whilst some of these skills may come naturally, it is vital as a leader that you constantly understand and work towards becoming better at them to be the best leader you can be, especially if you are in a senior leadership role or want to be in one. If you want to get ahead and become the best senior leader you can be, here are the most important skills you need and how you can begin to improve them.

Communication

Communication is seen time and time again on these lists, but this is due to the fact it is so important. You cannot get into a senior leadership position if you cannot communicate effectively. This means getting along with those in higher level and lower level positions and knowing how to address an individual based on the current situation. Communication is vital to every little thing we do in business, and from the emails we send out to how we act in a business meeting, we need to be able to communicate well in person, over the phone, and via email.

This also boils down to your body language too and this is one thing that many senior leaders fail on. You can talk the talk and listen well, but if your body language does not say that you are actively engaged and listening to your peers then you will not receive the communication you want. As you move further up the career ladder, people are more likely to take in what you say so this means having great communication skills and grammatical skills too. You need to have the ability to draw people in, sell them things or coach them, so working on your communication skills daily is crucial when in a senior leadership role. This also means getting regular feedback from others on how you could improve.

Emotional Intelligence

In order to become a great leader and coach others, you need to be able to demonstrate self-awareness. Without this, you can never improve and refine your own leadership skills, so how can you expect anyone else to take you seriously and listen to what you have to say? Emotional intelligence is more than just understanding your strengths and weaknesses, it is about understanding them, working on them and using them in situations to get the best from yourself and others.

Emotional intelligence also gives you the chance to understand others’ emotions and relate to them. Whilst you can never truly understand exactly what someone else is going through, with the use of emotional intelligence you can begin to understand and react in a way that is best for the situation. This includes being great at conflict resolution. If you want to boost your own self-awareness skills so that you can improve your emotional intelligence, check out these four ways to get started.

Influence

A senior leader must be able to influence others to get the best from their team. If a leader cannot influence, they will not be taken seriously and will not get the best for the business. Influencing comes down to many factors, including how well you communicate, hence the need for good communication skills. Being influential involves communicating your own or the businesses goals and visions, aligning the efforts of colleagues and building commitment from those around you. A great leader should be able to influence others to get behind their cause and work well. All in all, influence gets things done and gets the most desirable outcomes for a business.

There are many ways in which you can influence others, and this is determined by many factors including who you need to influence and the purpose. Understanding how and when to bring in compelling and logical arguments to get others attention is a skill that every senior leader needs. There will be those who want to oppose what you need to do in the business, so understanding why this opposition exists and what you need to do to influence a change of mind is essential.

Learning Agility

As a senior leader, you need to want to continually develop yourself and learn. In your role, you should be taking time out to seek courses or programs that can help you to do this, as well as completing any training provided by your workplace. There is always something new to learn and nobody is perfect in their skill set, so never pass down the opportunity to learn. This is also the case with new technology, as programs and software are constantly being introduced into the business world to bring us into a new era. Learning agility usually involves allowing feedback, asking questions and learning from previous mistakes. As a senior leader, you should always respond well to a new situation so that your employees will do the same; this is another great way to inspire when changes are made in your company.

Taking an executive coaching course is just one way to do this, especially if you are new to the role and want to develop and refine your skills further. A senior leader should have the ability to not just teach, but to coach another. The BCF Group use a blend of practical skills-based development alongside coaching concepts to enhance skills that senior leaders already possess. This can bring with it great results and allows for a more confident leader.

Each of these four skills can be used together to get the best from every situation and help you become a better version of yourself. If you want to get ahead in business, you need effective skills that you continually develop, adapt and build upon whilst working. By attending courses and regularly planning you can identify skills to work on to master the most important skills you need in a senior leadership role. 

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