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What are the skills needed for leadership?

By Atip Muangsuwan

skills needed for leadership

“What are the skills needed for leadership? There are overwhelming skills needed for leadership. However, for a condensed version, there are only 5 core skills; that is, coaching, facilitating, mentoring, strategizing and diplomatizing.” – Atip Muangsuwan, The Best Coach International

One of my new-generation leadership clients showed up with his leadership question: “What are the skills needed for leadership?”

Our discussion went on something like this…

Client: I’ve learned that there are so many even… too many skills needed for being a great leader. And I’ve felt overwhelmed and even drown in learning all those skills. So, could you summarize or bottom-line those leadership skills for me? Then, I can learn them with ease!

Coach Atip: You bet. I can condense them into 5 core skills so it’s easy to learn and remember. These are the 5 core skills that anyone who wishes to be a great leader should possess.

  1. Coaching

Have you ever heard that, “The great leaders are also the great coaches.” or “Leaders as coaches”?  And what are the essential skills for being a great coach? You know?

Client: From observing every session that you’ve coached me, I guess they are… 1. Active and deep listening 2. Asking powerful or evoking questions 3. Reflecting what you hear back to your client 4. Acknowledging and recognizing your client’s positive points or strengths 5. Sharing your insights without attachment.  

Coach Atip: Wow! Good observation indeed! In short, coaches use “reflective inquiry” communication skill. So, imagine if leaders use the coaching skill with their people, what would happen as consequences?

Client: Their people would be empowered and motivated to join or participate in the leaders’ visions and causes.

Coach Atip: That’s exactly right. When leaders can master the coaching skill, they will also master the effective communication skills. Then, the next essential skill is…

  1. Facilitating

Facilitate comes from the word, ‘Facile’ which comes from the Latin facilis, meaning “easy” or “easy to do”. Hence, a facilitator has a role to make it easy, easy to do or easy to learn for the learners.

Therefore, if the leaders possess the effective facilitating skill, they will cause good collaboration and synergy of their people to happen in order to achieve the leaders’ visions.

Client: So, the good leaders will facilitate the good teamwork and collaboration among their people.

Coach Atip: Right on. And the facilitating leaders will help simplify the difficult or complex work processes in order to make them easy for their people to be able to achieve the leaders’ visions.

In short, they facilitate people, processes and learning in order to catalyze their visions.

When leaders can master the facilitating skill, they will master the hyper-collaborating skill of their people. Next essential skill is…

  1. Mentoring

Mentoring is a reciprocal and collaborative at-will relationship that most often occurs between a senior and junior employee for the purpose of the mentee’s growth, learning, and career development.

Great mentors usually act as role models for their mentees. They provide guidance, advices and directions to their mentees. In short, they do what they preach.

So, great leaders must be great mentors to their people as well. They should lead by example.

When leaders can master the mentoring skill, they will also master the leading skill; i.e., the show-and-tell for their people.

Client: Wow! I just love the term: “show-and-tell”. It reminds me of the leadership term: “walk the talk” as well.

Coach Atip: Indeed! Leaders should be role models for their people in both behavior and thought aspects.

Client: What’s the next essential skill? I’m so excited to learn about it.

Coach Atip: The next one is…

  1. Strategizing

Great leaders should have strategic leadership skill. I wrote about this fully in my article: “What’s a strategic leadership?” in my website. You can read about it there.

In addition to that, great leaders should study, “The 36 Chinese Stratagems for Psychological Warfare”. They can be applied in business, politics, life, war, etc.

When leaders can master the strategic thinking skill, they will master almost anything in life and business. When you go to bookstores or public libraries, you’ll see all the books on the shelves labelled, “Self Help”. They are the “how to” books, and the “how to” books are all about strategies.

Client: Wow! I really want to master strategic thinking skill, so I will need to read your article soon! And what’s the last essential skill for leadership?

Coach Atip: Diplomatizing skill is the last, but not least essential skill for leaders.

  1. Diplomatizing

Diplomatic skill focuses on an understanding of other people and being sensitive to their opinions, beliefs, ideas and feelings.

Effective use of diplomatic skill comes from being able to sense accurately what another person is feeling or thinking at any given time and then responding in such a way as to avoid bad feelings or awkwardness, while at the same time asserting or reflecting your own ideas and feelings back in a delicate and well-meaning fashion.

To simplify, a diplomat does these roles; i.e., building a relationship, maintaining that relationship, seeking collaboration and generating win-win outcomes.

When leaders can master the diplomatic skill, they will master the human relationship skill which is vital in life and business.

Client: Wow! That’s awesome. Can you give me a role model who possesses and exhibits all these 5 core skills for leadership?

Coach Atip: Certainly! The best one is… Lord Buddha. He mastered all these 5 core skills, that’s why Buddhism was born over 2,500 years ago and it can still prevail until today! Lord Buddha used his coaching, facilitating, mentoring, strategizing and diplomatizing skills to spread Buddhism worldwide.

Client: As one of his followers, I totally agree with you!

Coach Atip: If you can master all these 5 core skills together, then you can become a transformational leader.

Client: What’s a transformational leader?

Coach Atip: You can read from my article: “What’s a definition of transformational leadership?” I wrote about it quite lengthy there.

Then, my client and I continued on with our coaching conversation and came up with the key strategies in order to help my client develop his leadership skills based on these 5 core skills that we discussed.

6 months later, this young leader client shared his outcome with me that… with a new kind of leadership skills, he could tremendously improve his team performance. There were better collaborations among team members and the team could exceed the sales target by 200-300%. He could also pass on his leadership to his team members and he could create new leaders from his team and feed to his organization in a larger scale.  

To me, “What are the skills needed for leadership? For a condensed version, there are only 5 core skills; that is, coaching, facilitating, mentoring, strategizing and diplomatizing.”

If you want to become a new kind of leader like this client of mine does become, you can get in touch with me via my homepage for a discovery session @ Home – The Best Coach International (thebest-coach-international.com)

To a new kind of leaders,
Advocate of ‘Coach-Fa-Mentor-Strategist-Diplomat’ skills