3 Leadership Skills You Didn’t Know You Needed (And How To Build Them)

Great leadership hinges on effective communication. Here's a look at three leadership skills every business owner can benefit from learning.

The value of streamlined team communication in business shouldn’t be overlooked. Teams with poor communication usually find it hard to deliver on core values and overall productivity.

Fortunately, the quality of workplace communication can be improved. It can certainly improve by bringing the right people together, but in my experience, communication is heavily dependent on the communication skills of business owners or senior leadership.

Here’s a look at three leadership skills every business owner can benefit from learning.


1. Leverage conflict

A workplace conflict study suggests “85 percent of employees deal with conflict on some level.” Even as teams work towards a common goal, individuals often have different ideas on how to achieve it. There are many reasons why disputes arise. Nearly half (49 percent) of office conflicts are a result of personality clashes and “warring egos.” Yet a smart leader sees conflict as a potential growth factor.

When everyone agrees, it doesn’t mean they are united in their views. Perhaps, they don’t care enough to hold their own opinions, or the company culture doesn’t encourage open discussion.

Whenever there is conflict, leaders should make an effort to understand the circumstances and reinforce the notion that everyone can safely express their opinions and work towards a resolution. Resolved conflict can bring a team together, and make it more cohesive, in the aftermath.

Workplace conflict can spur individual and team growth. They are not something to be avoided at all costs.


2. Build rapport

While certain leaders view time spent with employees discussing non-work topics as a waste of time, others perceive it as a valuable way to build rapport. Successful leaders master the art of establishing rapport and building trust.

Building rapport with employees is about making connections as human beings. “It’s the bond that forms when you discover that you share one another’s values and priorities in life.” And “When you have a rapport with someone, you’re better placed to influence, learn and teach, particularly as the trust that you’ve built up means other people are more likely to accept your ideas, to share information, and to create opportunities together.”

Here are three simple ways to build rapport with your team:

  • Develop a listening culture. When you speak to employees, give them your undivided attention. During open meetings, encourage feedback.
  • Ask questions. This simple act shows your interest in people as individuals. Find time to get to know your team members, and you’ll often find common ground. As Theodore Roosevelt once said, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
  • Offer recognition. Use genuine praise as a reward for actual achievements.

Build relationships with your employees to let them know you value them individually and that they’re not just cogs in a gigantic wheel.


3. Prioritize emotional intelligence

As humans, we are emotional beings. Regardless of intellect, effective leadership hinges on a person’s ability to regulate their emotional state.

Emotion is a mental state associated with thoughts, feelings, behavioral responses, and a degree of pleasure or displeasure. Your current emotional state influences how you process information, the decisions you make, and how you interact with others. “We are communicating our emotions constantly – in our tone of voice, through our actions, and with the particular words we choose.”

The ability to self-regulate emotions is essential for leaders in team environments. This doesn’t mean your emotions should be checked at the door each morning. That’s not realistic. Instead, we must become more aware of how they influence our work. This awareness will eventually lead to better actions and outcomes. As a result, your team will follow suit.

No one can fully remove their emotions from the workplace. However, leaders should learn to self-regulate their emotions and encourage employees to do the same. Building emotional intelligence is a key contributor to creating high-performance teams.


Business owners and leaders who lack these three skills can become disruptive elements in communication among their employees. Fortunately, these are skills and not inherent qualities. They can be learned. If you want to build a healthier and happier workplace, make these skills a priority.


Melissa Burns is an independent journalist and business expert at Fcsd Agency. She writes articles and analyses about entrepreneurship, startups, business innovations, and technology. Occasionally, she conducts workshops for promising startups. Connect with @melissaaburns on Twitter.


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