Fit for business: Eight skills you MUST master to be an effective leader

The brain is a survival machine that creates survival mechanisms to protect itself socially. And many of these protection mechanisms can inadvertently cause problems inside an organisation.

Leaders own their own emotions and behaviours in response to what is happening around them. They have mastered these eight skills to avoid being taken over by these mechanisms.

Not making assumptions – the skill of not being controlled by the brain’s need to complete an unfinished story with guesses in order to feel safe. The leader learns to hold off and ask questions.

Not taking anything personally – other people’s actions are never about us. They are always about them, but the brain sees itself as the centre of the universe. It takes things personally and becomes reactive as a result.

Not gossiping – it creates false reputations and spreads poison throughout a company fast. The skilled leader speaks only to the individual about their concerns.

Protecting and growing their time and energy – as a leader you can no longer just do the work in front of you. There will always be more work than you have time or energy for. You must master the skill of knowing what to do and what not to do. Protecting your time and energy is what will allow you to do this.

Learning from failure – not just big ones but cultivating the habit and the culture of using a lens of failure to cultivate excellence in work, culture and systems.

Maintaining overview – to keep your head when all around are losing theirs. Stakeholders will approach you with urgency attempting to make their urgency yours. Overview and calmness are the skills to master, not taking in other people’s urgency.

Extraction over instructions – this is the skill a leader must master in order to not become the bottleneck of the business. Your job is to create a company with a plan, NOT to be the person with the plan.

Never being misunderstood – misunderstandings cause many unnecessary errors within a company. Clear, skilful and precise communication starts with the leader.

We are all wired to do the opposite of these things: to assume, to take things personally, gossip, give others what they want, to deny failure, to mirror others’ emotions, to tell people what to do and to be vague and imprecise.

A leader’s job is to cultivate the skill of knowing and growing themselves, whilst not letting these things spread through the company.

Which of these most need your attention right now?