Leadership skills are some of the most in-demand soft skills but what does it really take to be a great leader in the workplace?

Whether a team leader, a project supervisor, or a business executive, undeniably all professionals that occupy leadership roles are required to possess strong leadership skills.

Leaders are the most accountable for driving employee engagement, satisfaction, and retention within a business. They are the ones who are responsible for driving positive employee experience.


Can Anyone Be a Great Leader?

Some people agree that people are born to be great leaders whilst others believe that leaders are made.

According to a study done by Gallup, 10% of the population are natural leaders, and another 20% possess leadership traits, and with the right training and guidance, they can become great leaders.

There’s no manual or guide that will give you all the tricks to become a great leader but what is without question is that leadership involves great soft skills.

So, what are the most in-demand leadership skills in todays work places? Why is developing leadership skills so critical in the workplace for success? What does it take to become a great leader? What do successful leaders do differently?

🔎Read on: Interpersonal Communication: Definition, Importance and Must-Have Skills

Learn how Haiilo helps managers become better leaders!

Leadership Skills: Definition

There is no unique way to describe great leadership skills. Also, there are many different leadership styles. Unsurprisingly, you can find different lists describing the leadership skills one should possess to become a great leader in the workplace.

In essence, leadership skills are the abilities people have to lead and deliver projects, encourage initiatives, build a sense of common purpose, and empower others.

Leadership skills also include the abilities people have to steer employees toward the achievement of business goals, inspire them, drive change, and deliver results.

Transformational leaders, servant leaders, and empathetic leaders are particularly appreciated in the workplace as they know how to motivate their people to do the best work. 

Keep in mind that not all great leaders possess the same leadership skills as these skills are strongly connected with people’s personality traits and communication abilities. Ultimately; different people equal different leadership skills!

🔎Read on: 5 Employee Communication Predictions for 2023 (And Beyond)

24 Most Important Leadership Skills

There are many different leadership skills required in the workplace, but the most in-demand ones include:

1. Active listening

Great leaders are those who listen to their people and care about their opinions, needs, and concerns. They appreciate bottom-up feedback and use it to improve their leadership skills. 

2. Empathy

Leaders who practice empathy in the workplace are more successful than those who don’t. They care about their employees’ wellbeing which is why they tend to have stronger relationships with their teams. 

3. Clear goals

No matter how complex the business, great leaders know how to set goals everyone can understand and confidently work towards achieving them. 

4. Strategic thinking skills

Great leaders can see the bigger picture. They know how to think strategically and in the best interest of the business. 

5. Creativity

Creative leaders think out of the box and encourage their teams to be innovative and forward-thinking. 

6. The ability to inspire and convince others

It is critical that leaders can motivate and inspire their teams. They make sure that they understand their employees’ biggest motivation drivers. 

7. Flexibility

Flexible leaders are those who accept compromises. Flexibility is particularly important today when many people appreciate and prefer flexible working arrangements. 

8. The ability to turn information into action

Successful leaders know how to turn information into valuable insights and actionable activities for improving business performance. 

9. Project planning

Project management is important for leaders as it allows them to manage expectations, and set goals, timelines, and dependencies. 

10. Teamwork

This is one of the most important leadership skills because it helps leaders to prioritize their team’s success over their own personal achievements. 

11. The ability to assess employees’ strengths and weaknesses

Managers need to understand their employees’ strengths and weaknesses so that they can get the most out of them. 

12. Business storytelling

Great leaders tell stories and use them to inspire people around them. 

13. Time management

Successful leaders know how to allocate their resources to manage projects successfully and in a timely manner. They are realistic and are great at change management

14. The ability to build trust

Trust in the workplace is not easy to build, and leaders play a critical role there. Leaders who micromanage their teams usually don’t struggle to gain the trust of their people. 

15. Strong communication skills

Great leaders are great communicators. Check out our blog to learn about top 5 communications skills

16. Positivity

Positivity is a leadership skill that enables leaders to be forward-thinking. These leaders don’t focus on the blockers but on solutions. 

17. Reliability

Every leader needs to make sure that their people know they can rely on them when they need their help and support. 

18. Analytical skills

Business-oriented leaders rely on data and mostly make data-driven business decisions. 

19. Alignment with the company values and goals

Great leaders know how to have their entire team working towards the common business goal. 

20. A strong leadership vision

Strong leaders always think ahead. They are not stuck in the present and always have a vision for the future. 

21. Recruiting skills

Many successful leaders are great recruiters. They know how to evaluate candidates and make sure they are a great fit for their organization. 

22. Persuasion skills

Persuasion skills are an important skill to implement ideas, build a network, and achieve your goals as a leader.

23. The ability to help employees find meaning at work

The best leaders make sure that their people understand how their work contributes to the overall business success. 

24. Strong charisma

Charisma is the quality of being able to attract, charm, and influence people around you. It is usually easy to identify when someone is charismatic

Top 19 Characteristics of Successful Leaders

There are hundreds of different ways to describe a great leader.”

Ask communicators, management experts, professors, or even business leaders how they would describe a great leader. They’ll all come up with different definitions!

However, most leadership experts agree that great leaders:

  1. Translate the company’s vision into reality
  2. Believe in their teams
  3. Have the ability to motivate and inspire others
  4. Know how to connect and engage with employees
  5. Have a clear vision and know-how to effectively communicate it in the workplace
  6. Know how to coach employees so they can develop their skills and improve their performance
  7. Recognize others’ achievements
  8. Have empathy
  9. Translate the company’s vision into reality
  10. Have a great understanding of the business’s strategy and know how to communicate it to their teams
  11. Enhance dialogues in the workplace
  12. Listen to employees
  13. Lead by example
  14. Know how to create unity in the workplace
  15. Encourage open and transparent communication
  16. Are change drivers — they encourage creativity and innovation in the workplace
  17. Include employees in decision-making; they effectively delegate
  18. Make employees’ well-being and safety one of their top priorities
  19. Last but not least: great leaders don’t fail. They learn.

Top 20 Statistics About the Importance of Leadership

Great leaders have a direct impact on their team’s success and ability to deliver results.

And here’s why: the way leaders communicate in the workplace impacts employees’ motivation, morale, productivity, and ultimately employee engagement.

Here are some most interesting facts about the importance of leadership in the workplace:

  1. 10% of CEOs are natural leaders and lead by example.
  2. Chief Executive Officers are well-educated. 97% of CEOs hold Bachelor’s degrees, 64% of them have Master’s degrees, and 10% have Doctorates.
  3. Leadership development is a $366 billion industry, with about $166 billion being spent in the United States alone. 
  4. Nearly 95% of learning organizations plan to increase and maintain investment in leadership development.
  5. Even though women hold about 40% of leadership positions in companies, they only account for 20% of CEO positions. 
  6. Only 19% of organizations say they are “very effective” at developing leaders. (Infopro Learning)
  7. 56% of organizations are not ready to meet leadership needs. (Deloitte)
  8. 77% of organizations overall are currently experiencing a leadership gap. (Elucidat)
  9. 58% of managers say they didn’t receive any management training. (Forbes)
  10. 82% of employees don’t trust their boss to tell the truth. (Forbes)
  11. In a Harvard 360 review from 2019, women scored higher than men in 17 of 19 categories that distinguish excellent leaders from average or poor ones, including communicating, collaborating, and developing relationships.
  12. 37% of employees consider recognition the most important thing a manager or a company could do to help them be more successful at what they do.
  13.  Only 42% of employees strongly agree that leadership effectively led their organization through the COVID-19 crisis. (Perceptyx)
  14. 85% of employees say they’re most motivated when management offers regular updates on company news. (Trade Press Services)
  15. 56% of employees believe that managers should update their skills to support a remote team. (CIPHR
  16. According to women leadership statistics, 54.7% of women in senior management roles showed more resilience than men.
  17. 79% of employees want to quit their jobs because of a lack of appreciation from leaders. (GoRemotely)
  18. 63% of millennials feel their leadership skills are not being developed. (HRPA)
  19. 38% of remote workers and 15% of remote managers received no training on how to work remotely.
  20. One in two employees have left their job to get away from their manager at some point in their career. (Gallup)

🔎Read on: 8 Employee Engagement Statistics You Need to Know in 2023 [INFOGRAPHIC]

Top 10 Business Leaders with Strong Leadership Skills

In this section, we have compiled inspirational quotes from business leaders who have built or contributed to some of the most successful companies in the world.

They have different ways to describe leadership and success, but they all have at least one thing in common — great leadership skills.

Are you ready to find out what great leadership means to them? Let’s take a look at some of their most famous quotes! 💬


Indra Nooyi, Former Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo

“Just because you are CEO, don’t think you have landed. You must continually increase your learning, the way you think, and the way you approach the organization. I’ve never forgotten that”. (Business & Leadership)

“I believe that if you show people the problems and you show them the solutions, they will be moved to act”. (Telegraph)


Bill Gates, Co-Founder of Microsoft

“If we win the hearts and minds of employees, we’re going to have better business success”. (Stanford Business)

“It’s important to surround yourself with people who will challenge you and tell you when, and why you are wrong”. (Strategies for Influence)


Mary Barra, Chairman and CEO of General Motors 

“People are fundamental in driving the success of a business. If you treat your staff like the smart and capable adults they are — and give them choice to make informed decisions — you will cultivate an environment in which everyone can flourish”. (Virgin)


Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin Group

“Your employees come first. And if you treat your employees right, guess what? Your customers come back, and that makes your shareholders happy. Start with employees and the rest follows from that”. (Employers Resource)



Herb Kelleher, Co-Founder of Southwest Airlines

“You must be very patient, very persistent. The world isn’t going to shower gold coins on you just because you have a good idea. You’re going to have to work like crazy to bring that idea to the attention of people”. (Employers Resource)


Tim Cook, CEO of Apple

“Ultimately, it’s on the company leaders to set the tone. Not only the CEO, but the leaders across the company. If you select them so carefully that they then hire the right people, it’s a nice self-fulfilling prophecy”. (Business Insider)


Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, Alphabet

“I view my role more as trying to set up an environment where personalities, creativity, and individuality of all the different employees come out and can shine.” (InnovationManagement)


Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos

“I think the currency of leadership is transparency. You’ve got to be truthful. I don’t think you should be vulnerable every day, but there are moments where you’ve got to share your soul and conscience with people and show them who you are, and not be afraid of it”. (Forbes)


Howard Schultz, Former Chairman and CEO of Starbucks

“People want guidance, not rhetoric. They need to know what the plan of action is, and how it will be implemented. They want to be given responsibility to help solve the problem and authority to act on it.” (Good Reads)


Mark Zuckerberg, Co-Founder, Chairman and CEO of Facebook

 “The question I ask myself like almost every day is, ‘Am I doing the most important thing I could be doing?'”

“So many businesses get worried about looking like they might make a mistake, they become afraid to take any risk. Companies are set up so that people judge each other on failure.” (Inc.com)

How Good Are Your Leadership Skills?

To conclude we wanted to help you evaluate your own leadership skills. Even thought there are many different ways to identify what type of a leader one is, this video will help you evaluate yourself in minutes.

Check out this video from Jamie Turner, or even download his free ebook about The Unspoken Rules of Leadership.

Curious to learn more? Read about 10 principles of modern employee communications

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