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Leadership and followership
Leadership and followership

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1 Leadership skills and abilities

Although the academic perspective on leadership is an important one, so too is that of the employer, particularly if you are interested in obtaining a leadership role.

A man stands next to a complex black and white line drawing that covers an entire wall.
Figure 1 Leadership skills and the employer.

Leadership skills are important to employers for a number of reasons:

  • Evidence suggests that employees with leadership skills and ambitions remain loyal to their organisation, have fewer work absences and have higher levels of morale.
  • Change is constant in the business world, and effective change requires leaders with the right skills.
  • Succession planning is crucial, so most employers are keen to train and develop their future leaders.
  • Effective leaders lead to successful businesses and ineffective leadership can lead to failure.

Before you look at employers’ requirements, focus for a few minutes on your own view of leadership and the skills you think are important. You may have already considered skills when you were defining leadership in Week 1. If you did – refer back to that activity now.

Activity 1 Leadership skills list

Timing: Allow about 5 minutes

In the box below, list all the leadership skills you can in five minutes.

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It is impossible to provide a definitive list, but the most commonly described leadership skills and abilities include the competence to communicate, motivate, make decisions, solve problems and delegate, combined with self-awareness, creativity, positivity and integrity.

A photograph of the Branson’s Centre of Entrepreneurship
Figure 2 Branson’s Centre of Entrepreneurship

Many business leaders are keen to share their experience, either online or in print, and their hints and tips are often worth reading. For example, famous entrepreneur and founder of the Virgin Group, Sir Richard Branson, values the following leadership qualities and attributes:

  • the ability to think differently
  • an eye for talent
  • a positive company culture
  • the ability to delegate
  • willingness to listen and learn
  • a hands-on approach
  • the ability to make decisions (and move on from mistakes)
  • attention to detail
  • passion for the job.
(Half, 2016)