A Personal Theory of Leadership – Skills of Effective Leaders

If you are just joining the discussion, you may want to check out:

  • Part 1 to establish some context for this article.
  • Part 2 to see how I define leadership.
  • Part 3 to discover the key components of leadership.
  • Part 4 to understand the leadership values I count as most important.
  • Part 5 to uncover the goals of effective leadership.
  • Part 6 to find out what effective leaders do.

                Skills that contribute to effective leadership fall into three categories: technical, conceptual, and interpersonal. (Yukl, pp. 152-154) Technical skills, which center on job knowledge, are more important at lower levels of management and leadership. Conceptual, or cognitive skills include analytical thinking, planning, seeing the big picture, problem solving, and playing chess instead of checkers. Interpersonal skills are those that deal with people and relationships. The need for these skills become increasingly important at higher levels of leadership as the need for specific job knowledge decreases.

There are a few skills that are vital for effective leadership.

  • Communication – An effective leader is an effective communicator.
  • Facilitating –  Used in combination with delegation to empower others and allow them to grow and develop while accomplishing the task.
  • Active Listening – Forces a leader to really listen and hear what a subordinate is saying and contributes to a deeper understanding through the use of relevant questions and reflective responses.
  • Problem Solving and Change Management – Because change brings challenges (problems).
  • Planning and Organization – Required to take an organization from where they are and what they have to where they want to go and what they want to have.
  • Vision Casting and Motivation – Because a leader without followers is just taking a walk. – John Maxwell
  • Self-Skills – The most important set of skills a leader can have are effective self-leadership, self-discipline, and self-management.


Yukl, G. (2013). Leadership in Organizations, 8th Edition. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education Incorporated.