Why Leadership Skills Are Important Even If You Aren't a Leader


Everyone knows what it takes to be a good leader; the skills and talents that are necessary to manage, motivate, and inspire the people around you. What most people aren’t aware of, however, is the fact that everyone can benefit from improving their leadership capabilities, even if they aren’t themselves in a leadership position. Let’s talk about why.

Integrity and accountability. Confidence and humility. Empathy and positivity. Creativity and organization. Effective communication.

These are the qualities of an effective leader. They are the traits of someone capable not just of managing the people around them, but inspiring them; someone who can push people to be better than they thought they could be.

Yet these are also traits that I believe everyone should possess.

You don’t need to be a leader in order to make a positive impact on the people around you. You don’t need to be in a position of authority to be inspiring or motivational. And you don’t need to be responsible for managing people in order to help them work more effectively.

We live in what is arguably the most connected, collaborative era in human history. The modern workplace is one in which the ability to communicate and cooperate is critical not just to your own professional success, but to the success of your entire organization. In such an environment, many of the traits that we frequently assign to effective leaders are important at all levels of the organization.

For instance, in a survey carried out in 2018 by the workplace messaging platform Troop Messenger, three-quarters of employers indicated that collaboration is essential to their company’s output. In a similar vein, a joint study carried out by the Institute for Corporate Productivity and Babson College’s Professor Rob Cross found a direct link between effective collaboration and workplace performance. Finally, keynote speaker and author Brent Gleeson identified low levels of accountability and poor communication as some of the biggest productivity-killers in the modern enterprise.

Look at it this way. If you lack empathy and communication skills, you cannot effectively work as part of a team. If you aren’t accountable, positive, and creative, people will not want to work with you. If you cannot connect with and relate to your colleagues, your efforts at collaboration will ultimately suffer.

So how exactly can you develop your leadership skills so that you might better apply them in the workplace? 

  • Be more aware. A large part of what makes one better at communicating and connecting to people is simple awareness. When speaking to someone, take the time to stop and consider what their words actually mean. Learn to read between the lines, paying attention to body language, tone, and context.
  • Look on the brighter side of life. A pessimistic attitude not only brings down the mood of everyone around you, but there’s also evidence to suggest it’s actively harmful to your health. Work on training yourself to be more optimistic, advises active living site Realbuzz. Focus on successes, quash negative thoughts when they surface, stop dwelling on the past, and act more positively. 
  • Be respectful and accountable. Show everyone the same level of respect that you expect of them. If you make a mistake, own up to it, and don’t hold the mistakes of others against them. 
  • Never stop learning. Last but certainly not least, never assume you know everything there is to know about a subject, even if it’s your area of expertise. Always keep your mind open to new concepts and ideas. 

Leaders are not unknowable beings who stand head-and-shoulders above their peers. They’re people just like you or me. Many of the skills that make them effective leaders are every bit as valuable to people who aren’t leaders themselves, perhaps even more so.