Want to Lead? You must have those essential, practical Skills


We’re all familiar with the traits of exceptional leaders. They generally



Accomplish major Results

And, typically have a Vision accompanied by a truly Positive Outlook.

Such traits emerge as the leader grows in confidence and capability. They evolve as a result of careful and specific learning.

Exceptional learning is established through

Dedicated and Deliberate Practice

And importantly

Excellent coaching and guidance

Enthusiastic (family and/or professional) support

Leaders acquire these traits (or attributes) built upon their mastery of specific, quantifiable Skills. These skills will include:

Specific, job-related knowledge


Decision analysis

Interpersonal/management-styles awareness










This is a significant body of study and work in which to invest. It cannot be mastered overnight. Inevitably, as anyone sets out to be a skilled Leader (or Manager) of others they must decide where to begin.

As with any process the action plan should consider priorities. These are unique to you and your goals. What must I know first? What is most urgent? What will have the maximum benefit for me over time?

There are several resources available when planning your priorities. You can

Ask your boss

Work with a mentor

Check those (next job) specifications with HR (if they have them)


Clearly the best approach will usually be taking guidance from a trusted colleague/expert; commonly the quickest and most secure route. The important thing is to get a plan/timeline, then commit and begin the process.

Learning is a lifelong investment and your development as a leader is no different. It’s said that if you read (i.e. learn) for an hour a day, by the end of seven years you should be a world-class expert on your chosen subject. Careers are inherently very lengthy, so this offers great opportunity for those who will make the commitment.

Begin by picking a path of learning that delivers you short-term benefits and validation, yet maximizes your progress and ultimately will develop your abilities to a well-rounded result.

I can also offer you an alternative and specific, hands-on guide to this process.

Developing these essential skills need not be an entirely formalized process. True, some things are best learned by such means, but many others can be digested and embraced through casual reading and even informal meetings.

Whatever method you’re employing just ensure you Digest, Consider and Practice the skill. It’s well-accepted that all new skills are best assimilated by their use and application.

Good luck with your investment in becoming a more skilled, accomplished and exceptional Leader!

Ian R. Mackintosh is the author of Empower Your Inner Manager Twitter @ianrmackintosh

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