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Anna Schosser06.03.202411 min read

7 leadership skills every successful leader has

7 leadership skills every successful leader has


Did you know that 1 in 2 employees [1] have quit their job due to their manager at some point in their career?

In our dynamic and ever-changing business landscape, leadership skills are vital to keeping your organization ahead of the curve and always remaining at the forefront of innovation.

To boost innovation, you will need to build innovative leaders, which begins with developing the soft skills within your leaders and finding ways on how you can help them maintain it.

Whether your organization is looking to drive engagement, reduce turnover, and see your revenue skyrocket - now is the perfect time to refocus on what strong leadership looks like. A successful leader is exactly what will help propel your organization to stand at the forefront of innovation year after year.


What's in this post:

What are leadership skills?

Leadership skills refer to the competencies and qualities that enable individuals to guide, motivate, and influence others towards the achievement of shared goals and objectives.

When it comes to nurturing the leadership roles within your company, knowing which set of traits, behaviors, and abilities to develop is important to build leaders who will successfully navigate challenges, shape a positive organizational culture, and drive innovative ideas.

Training to gain leadership skills is also not limited to just C-level. These skills are valuable for managers and employees looking to improve their overall performance and leadership potential, which is highly beneficial when your company is looking to develop a succession plan.

You may also be interested in learning more about executive leadership training.

Why are leadership skills important?

Companies expect that 44% of their workforce's basic competencies[2] will change significantly during the next five years, up to 2027.

Good leadership skills are the backbone of any successful organization, empowering individuals to guide teams, navigate challenges, and drive innovation.

Leadership skills form the cornerstone of effective management and strategic direction. First and foremost, strong leadership skills enable individuals to inspire and motivate teams which helps build a sense of unity and shared purpose among employees.

Leaders who can communicate effectively, delegate tasks, and empower their team to excel will not only enhance organizational productivity but also cultivate a positive work environment where innovation thrives. Leadership skills equip your leaders to make sound decisions under pressure, successfully navigate challenges, and drive consistent results.

What's more - nurturing leadership skills, especially in this dynamic and competitive business landscape, will produce leaders who can capitalize on opportunities, and employee strengths, and steer their teams toward success.

Here are a couple more reasons why leadership skills are important:

  • Increases efficiency: Strong leadership fosters accountability, integrity, and a commitment to excellence throughout all levels of the organization. This, in turn, establishes a culture that attracts top talent and retains employees. Moreover, a productive leader improves efficiency by ensuring that everyone is working towards a common goal and leverages their employees' strengths to achieve it.

  • Reduces the chances for mistakes: A good leader is vital for every organization that is looking to reduce workplace errors and perform efficiently. This is especially crucial in high-pressure settings where errors can have significant effects. A leader must be able to foresee possible difficulties early on and handle them promptly.

  • Boosts productivity: Imagine the difference it makes to have a leader who is motivated. It makes all the difference, especially when it comes to increasing team productivity. A successful leader can get employees excited about the work they're doing and the value that they are bringing to the company which will naturally increase productivity.

  • Creates a better work environment: This goes back to the point of how employees tend to leave their managers, not their jobs. That said, leaders have a profound impact on their work environment. Leaders who have the right skills can utilize them to create an atmosphere of creativity and collaboration. Such work environments also improve employee morale which leads to stronger workplace relationship building.

  • Lead by positive example: Successful leaders become role models and mentors, and they lead by example. Therefore, having good leadership skills inspires others to reach their full potential and embrace a culture of continuous learning and improvement.

  • Keeps employees on track: This all boils down to communication. When a leader is well articulated, they can clearly explain the company's vision and objectives to their team and make sure that it is understood. This is essential in the process when progress is being made and changes occur so that the leaders can provide their teams with the necessary resources that they need to thrive in their roles.

Leaders with strong leadership skills are instrumental for long-term growth and sustainability. By investing in leadership training and development, you will be able to cultivate a pipeline of strong leaders who are ready to face the challenges of tomorrow and empower your teams to succeed. 

You might also be interested in reading about what leadership and management training is and its five benefits

Woman sitting at desk with laptop in front of herAre you already up to speed on the leadership training trends for 2024?
Check them out and unlock the recipe that will get your organization to stay at the forefront of successful leadership. 


The most important leadership skills for successful leaders

That said, the most valuable leadership skills that every leader should have in their portfolio are the following:


One of the key skills that all successful business leaders have is knowing how to negotiate. Negotiation stands as a crucial leadership skill because it enables leaders to navigate complexities efficiently, resolve conflicts, and achieve mutually beneficial outcomes in different contexts.

Having good negotiation skills empowers leaders to successfully secure deals, and forge strategic. partnerships, and reconcile different interests within teams or across organizations. In leadership roles, negotiation is what fosters collaboration, builds trust with stakeholders and clients, and sharpens a leader's ability to make smart decisions.

Employee motivation

Leadership positions have the biggest impact on increasing motivation in your workforce.

A study conducted on 10,000 employees in the US has found that 63% of employees expressed that their managers lacked showing appreciation. On the other hand, it was discovered that when managers did show appreciation for their employee's hard work, employee engagement was boosted by 60% [3].

Regardless of which leadership styles your leaders are embracing, it is important to train your leaders to know how to keep their employees engaged and motivated with their work. This starts with building leaders who are motivated themselves. Motivated leaders create motivated employees who are confident in what they do and can do.

Creativity and innovation

An effective leader knows the importance of innovation when it comes to building a successful business.

Therefore, every business must prioritize leadership innovation. Successful innovation begins with ideation, which is the process of developing creative and remarkable ideas that will become the foundation of innovation success.

Take other industry leaders as an example; What did it take for AT&T, Verizon Communications, or Deutsche Telekom to become leaders in the telecommunications industry? Their leaders took on innovation with their customers and clients in mind.

The growing demand for creativity and innovation will continue to be a motivating factor for C-level executives who must use their leadership talents in these areas to be effective and stay ahead of the competition.

Ability to build reliability and trust 

Think about the trifecta of good leadership. It consists of:

  • Leading, and supporting change.

  • Strong communication skills.

  • Inspire confidence in the future.

Gallup reveals that when employees strongly believe that their leaders efficiently take on the three acts, 95% come to fully trust their leaders [3].

Building reliability and trust is a crucial leadership skill as it forms the foundation of strong relationships within teams and with stakeholders. When leaders demonstrate a strong ability to consistently deliver on promises and commitments, they automatically foster an environment of trust through open communication and transparency.

This sense of trust creates a sense of security and stability among team members which in turn, allows for healthy and effective collaboration to grow among individuals, encourages creativity, and promotes a supportive work culture where individuals feel empowered to take on risks and innovate.

Ability to identify employees’ strengths and areas for improvement 

One of the most effective leadership skills to develop is knowing how to identify top talent.

This starts with leaders leveraging the full potential of their team members to build a culture of continuous growth and development within the organization. By recognizing and capitalizing on their team member's unique strengths, leaders are better able to strategically delegate tasks and responsibilities where every employee gets the opportunity to deliver their best performance.

Doing so helps employees feel valued and heard, which will also result in higher employee engagement and retention rates.

When it comes to identifying areas for improvement, this skill enables leaders to provide targeted support, training, and mentorship opportunities that will allow their employees to enhance their skills and competencies over time.

A leader's focus on strengths and areas for development not only maximizes productivity and efficiency but also promotes employee engagement, satisfaction, loyalty, and long-term success within the organization.

Strategic thinking skills

Another important skill that all effective leaders have is strategic thinking. This is because it helps leaders to predict and adapt to the changes in their external and internal environments. This includes client demands, ever-changing market trends, competitor moves, and technical advancements.

This skill also helps leaders to innovate and provide tangible value to stakeholders, inspire and persuade others to share their vision, establish and maintain a competitive edge, and achieve and sustain high performance.

Strategic thinking enables leaders to set SMART goals that will propel the organization more efficiently toward success.

Adaptability and agility

A survey conducted in 2008 by Development Dimensions stated that one of the most significant leadership skills is the ability to facilitate change. Fast forward to 2024, adaptability and agility remain some of the top leadership qualities of every successful leader.

Modern leaders must know how to manage hyper-competitive economic environments, geopolitics, climate changes, and other factors that require leaders to adapt and exhibit agility such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Barclays Lifeskills research, 60% of employers feel that adaptability is more crucial this decade [4] than it was in previous years.

Successful leaders care about their team's success, which is why they must be able to adapt to both internal and external changes, even if it means stepping outside of their comfort zone every once in a while.

When looking to develop leadership skills in your leaders, it is important to help them cultivate a mindset of life-long learning to avoid falling behind on industry trends and continuously provide your company with a competitive advantage.

Male employee sitting on desk with laptop and looking into camera
Soft skills are the currency for successful leadership - get ahead now! 

How to develop strong leadership skills

Leadership development is vital when looking to improve business performance. So when it comes to the development part, there are several ways to approach it.

Firstly, professional development begins with self-awareness. This means that every successful leader knows that being self-aware is the key to self-improvement. It is being committed to continuous learning, embracing a growth mindset, and not being afraid of facing their mistakes to not repeat them.

Building successful leaders also means providing them with the right resources to fine-tune key workplace skills because there is always room for improvement. This can be done through coaching and mentoring programs. 

Retorio's AI Coaching platform is designed to tailor to your organization's unique needs to develop transformative leaders who will keep your organization ahead of the curve. Through the power of AI simulations, you will enable your senior leaders to ignite self-reflection and help them cultivate the essential skills that will drive unstoppable personal and professional growth.

Dashboard of Retorio's AI Coaching platform for leadership training

Retorio's AI-powered leadership training platform will help your organization develop transformative leaders
who will successfully rise to the challenges of tomorrow.

Retorio's AI Coaching platform provides immersive video role-play training that places your leaders into realistic day-to-day challenges they may face and guides them efficiently on how to best handle and manage different situations successfully. Retorio's leadership training provides you with data-driven, personalized feedback on an individual's tone of voice, language, gestures, and behavior all while allowing your leaders to train within a psychologically safe space.

This is the year for you to unleash your leader's true potential through self-reflection and let AI unlock all the hidden insights for your visionary leaders to thrive in complexity.

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Whether a student, teacher, project manager, or CEO, everyone in a profession that requires influence over others and decision-making may benefit from good leadership qualities. These abilities can be especially valuable for early-career professionals, newly promoted leaders, and start-up leaders.

Effective leaders possess a combination of traits, including strong communication skills, empathy, integrity, decisiveness, adaptability, strategic thinking, and the ability to inspire and motivate others. They lead by example, empower their team members, foster collaboration, and demonstrate a commitment to continuous learning and improvement. 



Anna Schosser

I create engaging and informative content about the importance of artificial intelligence and video-based AI technology for recruitment. I discuss cutting-edge AI developments and new technology with storytelling skills.