Leadership at work: what makes a strong leader and how to develop your skills

Leadership is essential in the workplace. Whether you are a leader, aspire to be one, or want to demonstrate leadership at work, knowing the essential leadership skills and how to become a better leader is critical.

Hays and Seek and Indeed outline the top leadership skills and how you can develop your leadership capabilities.

Important leadership skills

There are several essential skills for leaders to have. These include

Decision making

Decision-making involves making the right decision for the circumstances, often in a challenging situation.

There are three types of decisions. These are rational, decisions based on logic, intuitive, decisions based on gut and collaborative, decisions based on team members’ input.


Strong leadership relies on  good written and verbal communication. Effective leaders use communication skills to share information and inspire others. They speak directly and succinctly. Active listening is also an essential component of leadership. Active listening involves carefully considering what others have to say and responding appropriately.


Good leaders are motivated by strong principles and values. They do what they feel is right.

Practicing integrity illustrates that you are trustworthy and can keep promises.


Leaders should be flexible in their approach and recognise that there might be multiple ways to achieve a goal. Being adaptable also means that you can change your approach based on new information.

Problem solving

Leadership relies on the ability to solve problems. Problem-solving means identifying problems and coming up with solutions before things escalate. From time-to-time leaders have to resolve conflict between others. Leaders may also have to make processes more efficient.

Emotional Intelligence

Leadership relies on the ability to manage your own emotions and those of others

Leaders should be aware of the impact of their words and actions

Leaders should think about what drives and motivates others. How can they motivate others?

Good emotional intelligence is essential for leadership as it helps with decision making and relationship building 


A good leader will use their skills and experience to support others to achieve their goals.

Mentors give clear advice and feedback to others and are generous with their time

Strategic thinking

Leaders should look beyond daily tasks and consider the bigger picture. Strategic thinking involves identifying opportunities and threats, developing skills, and creating and implementing strategies to achieve goals.


Good leaders don’t try to do everything themselves.

Delegation requires you to assess the strengths and weaknesses of others. Doing so, ensures you pass tasks on to those capable of completing them. Delegation is also about building trust; you can’t pass tasks on to others without trust


How to boost your leadership skills

Identify your strengths and weaknesses

The first step towards developing leadership is recognising your strengths and areas for improvement. That way you will know what you need to work on to become a better leader.

Set goals for leadership development

Setting clear, achievable goals is essential for any leader

Leaders set goals for others as well as individual leadership goals. Once goals are set, they should be broken down into smaller actionable tasks.

Be open to new ideas

Leaders should be open-minded, flexible and adaptive to change. Ask for feedback from others.

Strive for continuous learning and improvement

As a leader, you should always look for ways to improve your skills. 

Build relationships

Leaders should develop positive relationships with their colleagues and strive to make their workplace as inclusive as possible. 

Show empathy

Have an interest in your colleagues lives, including their goals and challenges.

leadership at work

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