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2 Important New Words to Add to Your List of Leadership Skills

Like you, I've been searching for a definitive list of leadership skills. 

Graphic Showing Doing High 5But every time I meet another great leader, it seems my list is lacking. 
Maybe that's because every great leader exhibits different skills or displays them in different degrees. After all, leadership is an art more than a rote set of skills used in a methodical way.

But there is value in observing, naming and developing certain skills.  

Every List of Leadership Skills Includes These:

In leadership workshops, I open by asking people to give me one word they associate with leadership. 

Honest, visionary, inspiring... these always make the list right away. And then there are the qualities and skills that come from a little more reflection. Words like:  

  • Authenticity- knowing and being yourself in your words and actions
  • Boldness - not holding back, but being willing to try, fail and try again
  • Confidence - genuine confidence, not a false bravado
  • Credibility - the quality that makes it possible for others to believe in you

We're working through the alphabet here in the 2017 CONNECT2Lead Blog, so you'll have to keep coming back to read about:

  • GratitudeGraphic Showing Sharing Dreams to Others
  • Humility
  • Openness
  • Respect
  • Trust

and all the other qualities we observe in leaders who genuinely connect and take a "people first" approach. 

But what about skills? Less often, people articulate the things leaders are capable of doing. More often, they talk about what leaders are or the impact they have. That's why I'm such an evangelist for The Leadership Challenge®, a body of work by Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner. This is the evidence-based framework of leadership, based on 30+ years of global research, that tells us the 30 behaviors of exemplary leaders.  

No List of Leadership Skills or Qualities Is Complete Unless It Includes These:

These are implied but not explicitly called out in those 30 behaviors and the list of skills they embody. And in all the qualities called out by all the workshop participants I've asked, these two words have never yet been spoken. 

But, to me, these two words are absolutely essential for leaders to understand. Better yet is understanding and using them in unison. I've seen a few great leaders do this even though they'd never know these words existed.  

Entelechyfrom the Greek entelecheia means “that which turns potential into reality.”

This word gives me chills. It succinctly and powerfully describes what great leaders do. 

Turning potential into reality is the heart of innovation, the soul of creativity, and the aim of true leaders.

Ennoblement, meaning to make noble or worthy. 

More chills. Feeling worthy and noble unleashes hidden talents and causes people to dig deeper than they knew they could. Great leaders create ennobling environments where everyone feels important. 

All those other qualities and skills can help create this kind of environment. But a smart leader knows that those skills aren't for show. They have a two-fold purpose: ennoble people and turn their potential into reality. 

When ennobled people reach their full potential, company profits soar and long-term success is assured. This is the heart of putting people first to build organizational strength. 

Lest We Forget, Your Own List of Leadership Skills Should Be Personalized With Your Own Strengths

In addition to entelechy and ennoblement and the 30 behaviors of exemplary leaGraphic Showing Muscles Indicating Being Strongders, there's one more piece to the puzzle.

Leadership is an art. Every great leader is known and remembered for some quality of their own, some strength that was wisely used. 

When you compile a list of leadership skills, start with your strengths.

Think about how you will turn your potentiality into actuality by deploying these strengths you already have. Ennoble your own abilities and they will serve you well. 

When you use your own strengths as a springboard for developing additional strengths, you start with an advantage. Don't stop there, but use this launching pad to soar to new heights as you continue to develop as a leader. 

Deb Calvert is a certified Executive Coach, Certified Master with The Leadership Challenge® and architect of leadership development programs for nearly 100 organizations. She helps leaders at every level discover and achieve their leadership goals. Deb is the founder of People First Productivity Solutions, building organizational strength by putting people first since 2006.