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Leadership Skills: A Top Ten

This weekend I was lucky enough to witness a fine example of how ‘team work makes the dream work’ when Barnsley Football Club were promoted to the Championship from League One after a 3-1 defeat over Millwall at Wembley. Considering the team were bottom of the league in December 2015, it’s unbelievable what they have achieved in such a short time and in such a spectacular way. What a leader the care-taker manager Paul Heckingbottom has turned out to be. Pulling together, working hard, dedication and of course…skills. A fantastic achievement and a day to be proud of. Everyone wants that fairytale ending…and sometimes it can happen!

Taking inspiration from the leaders and mentors in my life, some not so great and some truly fantastic…  my top ten looks at the question, ‘What makes a good leader?’

To become a great leader, it’s essential to look at those who have tried and failed and those who have succeeded. It’s also helpful to develop an individual style that works for you and the objectives of the business.

My inspiration has been taken from business owners, managers, family, friends and colleagues as well as industry spearheads and sports personalities. But I never waver from the belief that to become a great leader the following should apply in one form or another…

Here are my top 10 leadership skills:

Focus on the team

Build solid and trusting relationships with the team and people around you, it’ll definitely pay off in the long-term. Be humble and let the team shine – allowing them to take the glory for a job well done.

Strive to ensure you have the right people to do the job, a team that shares passion, drive and ambition. Identifying the key strengths of the team is the key to successful delegation and with this in mind, a business will grow.


Personal brand

Be the kind of leader that YOU would follow. What would you want people to associate with you when they think of your name? Does it also reflect the brand values of the business you are leading? Create a personal brand that is identifiable, strong, ambitious but is also genuine and honest.


Provide a platform to support those around you – ‘no man is an island’. Support and relationships will give you the ability to solve problems and analyse issues and requires a great sense of awareness.



It may sound pretty obvious, but listening to what’s going on around you, whether within the industry, the confines’ of the office, the general public or market sectors of clients, listening is a key skill to have.


Encourage / motivate

Once upon a time I almost gave up a career in Marketing when I became so de-motivated I would have stacked shelves for a living, after having my confidence so harshly knocked. (Not that there is anything wrong with shelf stacking, but not sure Mr. Willis would have been too happy after funding 4 years at University).

Fate or luck intervened, but this was a lesson I won’t forget and a key skill to develop in order to ensure the team and people around you are encouraged and motivated to share passion, drive and long term goals.

Believe in yourself, without over-confidence and reflect this to others.



Give the team you lead autonomy. Help the team discover their own potential without dictating it.

John Maxwell quoted:

“Leaders become great. Not because of their power, but because of their ability to empower others.”


Everyone in your team is a person and can be affected by office mood and morale as well as personal issues.  It also helps to keep the energy levels up with a culture they buy in to (staff get-togethers, achievement recognition, after-work drinks or even advice on personal matters). As a leader, the team take inspiration from you, your approach, attitude and demeanour…. But ensure a fine balance between productivity and liveliness.

Planning, organising & setting objectives

It’s never about the role, it’s about the goal.

Planning how to reach that goal and sharing that plan gives a team a feeling of belonging and unity to strive for the same things and enjoy that success together.


Great leaders inspire greatness in others and it’s certainly a true testament that the success of a leader is the legacy they leave behind.

Practice what you preach

Do what you say you are going to do and become a role model, if you can lead by example from the front you will gain huge amounts of respect from the team.

I will leave you with some more useful tips from David Brent #TheOffice

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