Hi again, progeeks, profans, and protaku. As of this week, we added some more seats to our round table. However, the comment-when-you-have-something-to-say thing will continue as usual.
This week's question: What is the number one most important skill a leader can have?
Tamara: I would say it’s listening. If you can’t take in information, you can’t make good decisions. If you can’t pay attention to the people you are leading, then they’ll think you don’t care about them.
Lauren:I think the number one skill any leader can have is communication. After all, there's not just one kind of person/employee etc. A good leader has to be able to listen to and resonate with all types of people. Nobody wants to work for a boss who they don't think understands them or cares about their input.
Serdar: It's tempting to say "leadership skills", but the plural implies a bag of different things and not just one thing. After seeing a lot of failed leadership attempts, the one thing I took away from all of them was clarity -- clarity of communication, clarity of purpose, clarity of "message" (not a word I like to use, but there it is). If people don't know where you're coming from and where you want them to go, they're not going to follow you anywhere.
Steve: A sense of shared purpose. Without it leadership is false.
Bonnie: The most important skill a leader can have is vision. A leader's job is to guide and inspire his or her subordinates. If he or she has a strong, clear vision of a set of principles they want to uphold and objectives they want to achieve, and is able to convey it with genuine enthusiasm, then everyone under the leader will want to rise to the challenge and make the vision a reality. Lack of vision means lack of focus, and lack of success.
Jason: The ability to empower others to succeed, give them the guidance they need to do brilliant work, then leave them alone to reach their true potential. The best leader has a strong hand but uses that hand in a way that inspires rather than frustrates. That also implies that a leader is able to hire the right people who can thrive in such an environment.
Ewen: I would say clear two-way communication is the most important thing for a leader. There are probably plenty of other important qualities and skills for a leader, but none of them actually matter if you can't communicate. If you're giving people instructions they need to be clear, and you need to listen to and understand what they have to say about it. Otherwise they don't know what they're doing, you don't know what they're doing, and you don't actually know if what you wanted them to do was even possible.
Ellen: I'm stuck between adaptability and communication, but I suppose that if one were able to roll with the punches, they could roll with public speaking too, so I'll go with adaptability. It seems that the reason a leader is often most resented is when they are unwilling to change "the way things have always been," or when they are unwilling to be flexible with conflicting needs of their teammates. A leader is good to have when there are no challenges and everyone is happy and the leader can take all credit for the lack of conflict, but what good is all that if a shot-caller can't anticipate a shortage, or a malfunction, and breaks down the moment people actually need leadership? Before strength, or charisma, or even empathy, my vote is for adaptability because it is the skill that most freely lets you adapt the others as the need arises.