4 pillars of business

Leadership Skills: Analysis, Examples and Application

Let’s now examine each skill, share an example of a leader who possessed the skill – and most importantly – teach you how you can adopt this skill into your daily life.

1. Vision

Leadership skills- vision

The concept of “vision” is all about having a vivid mental image of what you want to accomplish. The vision in your mind should be so clear and strong, that it will help make your goal become a reality.

Why exactly did you want to start a business? Your big “why” is the most important driver and the primary reason why you will or will not create a successful business.

As you come across challenges and barriers towards your goals, it is your big “why” that will keep you going. If you have no clear idea why you want to achieve your goal, your motivation and focus will quickly dissipate.

Many businesses or entrepreneurs will start their endeavor by carefully crafting a vision statement. These statements will communicate the overall goals of your business.

In fact, a good vision statement will include three elements:

  • Your Purpose
  • Your Goals
  • Your Values

A great leader needs to start with a powerful vision for his goal. It is so much easier to lead people when you have a concrete idea of where you want to go.

Research shows that when employee’s find a vision statement meaningful, they are 18% more likely to be engaged than average.

The best leaders have a vision that follows the three elements above, and they will not waiver from its path until they reach their goal.


Example: Nelson Mandela

“Vision without action is just a dream, action without vision just passes the time, and vision with action can change the world.”

Nelson Mandela had a vision of the end of apartheid. He fought endlessly for this vision and even spent many years in jail, because of it. But, he never wavered. His vision and conviction were so compelling that eventually, he succeeded. He lived not only to see the end of apartheid but to become the first president of South Africa.


Why It’s Important in Everyday Life:

You need to have a vision in your life because it is going to keep you on track.

Think of your vision as your goals or dreams. It’s what you want in life, and it gives you something concrete to build towards as you move forward.

Great achievers harness visualization as a powerful tool to propel them towards success. They constantly think about their goals, visualize achieving them and think about how they will feel when they reach them.

I am not talking about some esoteric theory that thinking about your goals will manifest in the universe. There is nothing wrong with that belief, but visualization itself is merely a tool. You don’t have to think about it on a mystical level.

Having an overall vision of what you want in life gives you something to work towards and helps you get there. You will face obstacles and adversity, your plans will change, but having an overall vision will help you meet any issues head-on. You will confront these obstacles head-on because you know exactly where you are heading.

2. Passion

Passion intrinsically links to vision. A good vision should certainly match with your passion.

The word “passion” gets tossed around quite a bit. It is almost a buzz word in the self-help realm. That doesn’t make it any less important though.

We just need to realize that passion isn’t just some flippant idea that is fun to chat about and discuss. It’s real, and it’s necessary. It also isn’t just about enjoying something. It is about needing something. If you have a passion, you wake up and fall asleep thinking about it. When you are doing something else, you will catch yourself thinking about it.

Leaders need to have passion because that’s what makes them tick. Imagine you are a leader and you’re working on two projects. One is a passion project that you are completely beholden too. The other is some simple busy-work that you have to do to make ends meet. Which one is going to motivate you?

More importantly, which one is going to help you motivate the people you lead? People aren’t stupid and know when our leaders are faking it. If you feel passionate about something, then it will emanate from every pore of your being.

Great leaders feel passionate about their vision. It’s this passion that allows them to make sure their vision becomes a reality.

Example: Mother Theresa

“We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But if that drop were not there, I think the ocean would be less by that missing drop.”

While she was a quiet and tiny woman, Mother Theresa made up for it with an unbelievable reservoir of passion. She wasn’t working for glory or fame. Rather, she was doing what she believed she was put on this earth to accomplish. She spent 50 years working among the poorest people in the world. The missionary order she founded is now active in 133 countries, still doing the work she was so passionate about to this day.


Why It’s Important in Everyday Life:

Having a true passion is the kind of thing that wakes you up early in the morning ready to hit the ground running.

You might have a lot of success in your life, working towards goals that don’t ignite you, but what if you were working towards something you truly loved and cared about?

Imagine how much easier it would be! Imagine how more effective you would be!

Not many of us have the luxury of doing something we truly love. That’s a shame. Reaching goals that match your passion is not only preferable, but it’s also more rewarding than going after something that doesn’t inspire you.

You may not be in a position to follow or chase your passion, but just having one is a potent force. People who have something they are passionate about always feel better about themselves and are happier in general. Our whole lives we hear that if you work hard, you reach your goals and one day you will be happy.

Well, what if we flip the script. What if we find something at the start that makes us happy, and we work towards that? Why does happiness have to be a destination, and not the journey?

3. Confidence

Having confidence is one of the most successful leadership skills there is.

Confidence is simply the belief that you can rely on someone or something.

When put like that, it is obvious why it is such an important leadership trait. If you are a leader, then you need to believe in a LOT of different things:

  • Your vision
  • Yourself
  • Your team
  • Your ideas
  • Your plans
  • Your decisions
  • Etc.

Good leaders don’t just have confidence. They exude it. They don’t just act confidently, but they inspire others to as well. Having a vision is great and being passionate about it helps as well. However, if you aren’t confident in yourself or your team’s ability to pull it off – you have nothing.

Example: LeBron James

“I feel confident because I’m the best player in the world. It’s simple.”

LeBron James came into a man’s sport, while still a kid. He hit the league as an 18-year-old phenom, with the weight of expectation like no athlete ever before, and he instantly dominated.

He gave the above quote a few years ago when he was locked in a Finals battle with one of the greatest teams ever assembled in the NBA. His team (The Cavs) were down in the series and huge underdogs – but his confidence didn’t waver. In a legacy-defining moment, LeBron and the Cavs ended up defeating the odds and winning the championship that year.


Why It’s Important in Everyday Life:

Confidence is everything. If you don’t believe in yourself, why should the rest of us?

You need to be confident in your abilities, or else you won’t be able to reach your goals. Or worse – you will set goals that don’t motivate you or move the needle that much.

A lack of confidence will hold you back from taking chances. The kind of chances that might change your life. What if you miss out taking a shot at that promotion because you don’t think you deserve it? What if you don’t ask out that friend you secretly long for because you don’t feel good enough?

Confidence doesn’t just hold you back. It cripples you. People can spot a lack of confidence a mile away as well. If you want to build genuine connections in your life – be it personal or business – then you need to be confident.

Confidence is believing in your ability to reach your goals. What could be more important than that?

4. Positive Attitude

A positive attitude may seem a lot like confidence, but they are two different things.

A positive attitude means that you look at things in a positive light. You don’t dwell on negativity, you see the good in bad situations, and you feel happy. You make a conscious effort to find and see the good in every situation.

A leader needs to have a positive attitude because it will help them deal with their journey. The road is never smooth, so staying positive is key. It also helps to build the morale and motivation of your team. If you show up ready to tackle the world, your team will too.

A positive attitude is contagious!

Example: Oprah Winfrey

“The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.”

Oprah walks it as she talks it. She just doesn’t possess a positive attitude; her entire brand is based around helping other people achieve the same.

This self-made mogul has countless articles and quotes in which she shares the importance of positive thinking. She doesn’t just talk about positive thinking; she is a glowing example of just how powerful it can be.


Why It’s Important in Everyday Life:

A positive attitude is a key to leading a positive life. Your attitude creates the way you feel about situations. Your actions are a result of those feelings. Thus, it is safe to say that your attitude will help dictate your actions. We all go through ups and downs in our life, and a positive attitude is one way that we can ride those bumps out.

It also helps make you more approachable and likable. Do you want to spend time with positive people, or negative ones? Pretty easy choice right?

Life is not all gumdrops and lollipops, but we all have a choice to make. We can choose to dwell on the negative and get swallowed up by it, or we can choose to stay positive and battle through the dark times.

You don’t have to be positive all the time. You will have moments of grief and sadness in your life. Take the time you need to wallow. But always keep in mind that there are good things and good people out there, and you deserve them.

5. Persistence

Persistence is the ability to continue towards your goals in spite of difficulty or obstacles. Almost all success has come after someone has persisted through some difficulty. We hear the term “overnight success” mentioned a lot, but most often there is an example of persistence buried beneath it.

Leaders need to persist because you never reach a goal without some obstacle or hardship.

A leader needs to be ready to face obstacles head-on, and if their team gets knocked down, then it is up to them get the team back up to take another run at it.

Example: Soichiro Honda

“Profound belief in something allows every individual to find an immense inner force, and to overcome his or her failings.”

The first name might not be familiar to you, but the last name certainly is. Soichiro Honda is a stunning example of the power of persistence.

During World War II, he owned a company that produced parts for Toyota – it was bombed and destroyed. Instead of giving up, he sold the salvageable parts of his company to Toyota and started a new company. It was a little company you may have heard of: Honda Motor Company.


Why It’s Important in Everyday Life:

Life is full of hardship, adversity, failures, drama, and obstacles. How we deal with those is often a determining factor in our success. If you want to succeed, then you need to persist. Just look at anything that you have tried in your life. Were you awesome at it instantly?

Probably not.

More likely you had to work hard at it, and not just for a while – but for a long time. That is what persistence is! That ability to stick to something without giving up.

If you want to start a business, a family or even a hobby – you will need to be persistent if you are to make it work. If you aren’t able to stick to something and show some patience, then good luck reaching any of your goals. You can’t fold every time something goes wrong and expect to be successful.

The ability to persist is often the single trait that turns failure into success.

6. Communication

The ability to communicate allows you to share your vision, or ideas with rest of the world. Most often this will be accomplished either verbally or written.

A lot goes into being a capable communicator, but if you can effectively convey your messages, then you have the basics covered.

That is vitally important for a leader, because who would follow someone who can’t properly explain:

  • What they believe in
  • Their goals, and
  • What they expect from you

A leader might not be a dynamic public speaker, but they need to be able to convey their ideas. They could have the best ideas in the room (or world!) but if they can’t explain them, who cares?

Example: Martin Luther King, Jr.

“People fail to get along because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they have not communicated with each other.”

Martin Luther King, Jr, was one of the leading voices in the civil rights movement. I use the term “voice” quite literally.

His ability as an orator is legendary. While his contributions to society are wide and vast, almost every single one of us knows about “I Have a Dream…”.

You can debate how important this one speech was in the overall scheme of things, but you can’t argue that we’ll always remember it.


Why It’s Important in Everyday Life:

That is the proverbial no-brainer, right? Obviously, the ability to communicate effectively is vastly important in our daily lives.

Have you ever been somewhere you don’t speak the language and try to get your point across any way you can? Isn’t it the most frustrating feeling ever?

For most of us, every day we are dealing with other people and trying to get across some point. We need to be able to express our feelings to other people. More importantly, we need to be able to do it in a way that doesn’t offend and allows us to get what we want more easily.

I don’t mean lying or manipulation! We simply need to be able to convey our (complex at times) thoughts in an easy to understand manner.

Whether you are sending a text or email, making a call, or running into your neighbor on the elevator, the ability to communicate is important. Every single day you will need to communicate with someone in some manner, so you better know how to do it effectively!

7. Creativity/Innovation

Creativity is using your imagination to come up with original and unique ideas.

Innovation isn’t the same thing, but they are very closely linked. Innovation is the action of creating new methods, ideas, or things.

So, while they aren’t the same thing, it would be pretty hard to have innovation without creativity.

A great leader needs to be creative because one of their key responsibilities will be problem-solving. Sometimes to solve a difficult problem, you are going to have to think creatively. You might need to come up with a solution that no one has ever come up with before – and THAT is innovation!

Example: Elon Musk

“The path to the CEO’s office should not be through the CFO’s office, and it should not be through the marketing department. It needs to be through engineering and design.”

Elon Musk likes to zig when everyone else zags. That is just who he is as a person. One thing that is so impressive about his ability to innovate is his full commitment to it. He wasn’t afraid to take on big auto and create his electric car. Then he wasn’t happy just sticking to that either. He went on to create household battery systems, started work on something called a “hyperloop,” oh and he is also dabbling in driverless cars and casual space exploration for the masses. Like the man or not, you can’t say he doesn’t commit to big, audacious, innovative ideas.


Why It’s Important in Everyday Life:

Creativity might seem like something that is more important to an art major, than someone who runs a business or takes care of a family. That is far from the truth though.

Every one of us can benefit by being more creative or innovative in our daily lives.

Think about it like this. When is creativity/innovation most important? It’s when people need to solve a problem.

Sometimes the solution is quite apparent and straightforward, but sometimes we need to think outside of the box. Other times, the “apparent solution” isn’t the best one.

Sometimes a little creativity will allow us to come up with a solution that is even better than the straightforward one.

When you think about it like that, it becomes clear how important creativity is in our daily lives. We are all constantly asked to solve problems. Whether it is a project at work, a dispute between our children or thinking about how to organize the garage – we all solve problems regularly.

Harnessing our innate creativity is one of the most powerful tools we can use to help solve the constant barrage of problems in our lives.

8. Independence

Independence has a few different meanings, but what we are talking about here, is the ability to do what you want without worrying about what other people think.

To be frank, others who do not own their own business will have little understanding of what you go through, and their comments, though well meaning, should often be ignored.

An independent leader will take chances that people don’t always find agreeable. They will make unpopular choices. They won’t be afraid to march to the beat of their drum. If they genuinely believe in something, they will do everything they can to make it happen.

That is an important leadership trait, because sometimes taking that unpopular risk, is what is going to take your team to the next level.

A lot of people are comfortable just flying under the radar and doing only the things asked of them. Great leaders aren’t afraid to step on toes to make something happen.

Example: Coco Chanel

“In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different.”

Coco Chanel was never scared to do or say what she wanted. In a time when women were supposed to act and look a certain way, she wasn’t having any of it.

She helped liberate women from the classic corset by popularizing a much more casual standard of style. She became a fashion icon because she did and said what she wanted, even if it wasn’t in vogue at the time.


Why It’s Important in Everyday Life:

Being able to do what you truly want while not caring about what others think is a very powerful trait to have.

Keep in mind – I don’t mean you walk around just being a jerk to everyone or picking up egg rolls off someone’s plate at a restaurant. I mean that you aren’t afraid to make an unpopular decision or take a stance that you truly believe is right.

So many of us tiptoe around other people and societal norms that sometimes it holds us back. We feel like we need the backing of people we know, or society at large before we make a decision.

I had a close friend who decided to leave his well-paying job, to strike out on his own. Many people in his family were shocked that he would take such a chance. Even in general, it kind of goes against what people expect of us. We are expected to go to school, use that knowledge to find a great job, and then plug away climbing the ranks until we retire.

He decided he was going to do what he wanted. What he felt was best for his self and his family. He ended up being right and now gets to reap the rewards.

That is what I mean when I talk about independence. You need to be able to figure out what it is you want, and then make independent decisions on how to get there. Don’t let doubters or societal norms (aka what we’re expected to do) hold you back.

9. Integrity

A lot of times people will use the terms integrity and honestly interchangeably.

While it is true that honesty is a big part of integrity, it isn’t the entirety of it. Integrity also means that you have strong principles, values, and expectations.

More importantly, your actions are consistent with those terms.

For a leader, integrity is vitally important. Being honest is one of the best ways to build trust, and you need people to trust you. Who wants an untrustworthy leader?

The second half of the definition is just as important. When you have values and principles that you consistently live up to, your team will begin to recognize it. People will value knowing where they stand with you, as well as where you stand on issues of principle.

Having integrity means you are consistent and being consistent makes people comfortable.

Example: Abraham Lincoln

“No man has a good enough memory to be a successful liar.”

It might not be the most exciting handle, but Lincoln was known as Honest Abe for a reason. He was committed to honesty and his morals. He had strong beliefs about certain things and even went through a painful war to live up to them.

Not only did he act as an example of integrity, but he also wrote about its importance as well. You can find countless quotes from the man about the subject. Honest Abe, indeed.


Why It’s Important in Everyday Life:

Integrity doesn’t always come easy to people, but it is vitally important in our daily lives.

We all know people who seem to succeed with a lack of integrity, but how viable it is long term.

For example, let’s say you own a business and you are ripping people off. You might make more money in the short term, but what if someone blows the whistle on you? How long will your success last then?

Integrity is important in our relationships as well. Are your children going to listen to you, if they know you are regularly lying, or you say something and do the opposite?

Have you ever told a lie, and then found yourself having to tell another lie to keep the first lie a secret? Have you ever had to keep track of who you lied to or what those lies were? It’s exhausting and impossible in the long term.

Having integrity also means that you have morals that guide your life. That means different things to different people, but there is power in having values that guide you. It helps you make tough decisions, makes you more trustworthy and ensures you stay true to yourself.

10. Ability to Delegate

Delegation is the ability to assign, entrust and transfer certain responsibilities to other people. It’s important not only to be able to assign people certain tasks but to trust in their ability to accomplish them.

That is important for leaders because it allows them three main benefits:

  • They take things off their plate so that they can focus their efforts towards more pressing tasks.
  • If a leader lacks a certain skill set, they can offset that by letting someone more adept take over.
  • You empower other people by rewarding them with responsibility.

Delegation is a win-win-win!

A leader can reduce their workload while increasing efficiency and team morale.

Example: Warren Buffet

“Delegate almost to the point of abdication.”

Warren Buffet is probably the most successful investor of our time. He is one of the wealthiest people in the world with a net worth of around 90 billion dollars. To say he is successful might be an understatement.

Can you believe then, that investors in his business worried about the man delegating too much? Buffet’s management style can be summed up by his quote above. His theory is that by delegating, he is empowering the executives below him. Question the man all you want, but you can’t argue with his results!


Why It’s Important in Everyday Life:

Delegation is one skill that I have had a problem dealing with in my life, so I know it’s importance. It can be very tough for some of us to be able to let go of control and allow someone else to do something.

That said, it will be very rewarding for you to learn how to delegate properly!

Why should we waste time on tasks and duties that do nothing but take up our energy and time? I am sure there are tasks you do daily, that could be taken on by someone else.

When you learn to release control, you will be rewarded with more time to focus on things that are important.

I like things in my life done a certain way, to a certain standard. Consequently, I was nervous to let people take on tasks because how could they possibly match my eye for detail?

I was wrong. Offloading some burdensome tasks was one of the best things I have ever done.

Not only did I have more time to do more important or enjoyable things, but I was also pleasantly surprised that someone else was accomplishing these off-loaded tasks better than me. They brought a fresh perspective that I had never even thought of before.

The delegation of tasks will free up your time. It will free up your energy. And most importantly, it allows you to address your weaknesses by bringing in more experienced or talented contributors.


There you have it!

Whether you want to be the world’s next great leader, or you just want to reach your own goals, you now have the roadmap for gaining the skills you need. This is particularly important for providing leadership in a self employed business environment.

Without hyperbole, I can say that adopting these ten skills into your daily life will truly be life changing. To recap, the ten leadership skills you need to adopt are:

  1. Vision
  2. Passion
  3. Confidence
  4. Positive Attitude
  5. Persistence
  6. Communication
  7. Creativity/Innovation
  8. Independence
  9. Integrity
  10. Ability to Delegate

You not only learned what these ten skills were, but you also got concrete examples of leaders who possessed them, and actionable steps you can take to make sure you do as well.

All that is left now is to take action – just like any great leader would. To your success!


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