Becoming a Next Level leader is not for the faint hearted – it’s a journey that requires commitment, personal growth, and a true passion for your people. The stakes are high for you, your team, and your business to thrive and there are a number of skills and qualities you’ll need to master.

In this article, we will explore the 21 key things that are essential to lead with confidence. The pay-off is huge; by honing your expertise you will inspire your team, navigate challenges with ease, and ultimately take your business to levels of success you never thought possible.

Developing your Leadership capabilities to bring out the best in your people and their performance is the single most important thing you can do to drive your business forward.

So, let’s dive in!

1.     Become a Visionary thinker

A brilliant business needs a compelling vision to inspire your team towards a shared vision and goals. Your people must feel like they’re contributing towards ‘something bigger’, so defining a purpose and vision that shows where you’re heading is critical

2.     Strategic Planning

Having a great vision is one thing, but knowing exactly how you’ll achieve it is another. Creating a strategic plan that is well thought out, realistic, and aligns to where you want to go is critical to provide a roadmap that will take you where you want to get to

3.     Effective Communication

Mastering the art of clear, transparent, and empathetic communication is a must, but you’ve also got to become expert at having difficult conversations and providing constructive feedback

4.     Emotional Intelligence

Self-awareness is essential; knowing how to understand and manage your emotions, as well as the different personalities of your team members, will create positive relationships and enable healthy debate

5.     Attract Top Talent

Your business will only succeed if you have the right people around you. Attract, recruit and retain top talent who align with your company culture and have the skills needed to grow your business. Your Employer Brand is an essential component of making you stand out above your competition

6.     Invest in Training & Development

If you don’t invest in the growth and development of your team members, you’re missing a trick. Place emphasis on understanding the skills gaps within your team and put plans in place to upskill them. Understand where they want to be in a year’s time, and show you’re invested in their future

7.     Decision-Making

You need good data to make well-informed decisions. You should be able to understand the health and performance of your business in a one-page report. Use the talent around you to consider different perspectives as you’re making decisions, and strengthen your ‘gut instinct’

8.     Innovation & Change

Embrace change, encourage creativity, and foster a culture of innovation. Regularly ask for input, ideas and feedback from your team and strategically invest in those which will help you stay a step ahead

9.     Delegation

Delegate tasks clearly and purposefully. Empower your people to take ownership, give them stretch goals, and don’t micro-manage as that’s a sure-fire way to de-motivate

10.  Coaching & Mentoring

Your team should be ‘doing the do’ for you, which means you have the time to step back and provide guidance, support, and mentorship to help them achieve their goals. You should be doing more ‘reviewing’ than ‘doing’

11.  Continuous Learning & Improvement

Create and maintain a culture of growth and learning, where curiosity and a growth-mindset is encouraged at all levels of the business, not just at the leadership table. Your business should always be improving, so understand where the 1% marginal gains are and get your whole team involved in moving things forward

12.  Create Accountability

Holding people to account is a key part of driving their performance. Everyone in your business must be clear on what they are accountable for, and have clear, measurable goals that feed into the wider Company Plan. You must encourage your people to take ownership, and call them out when they don’t

13.  Financial Know-how

Understanding how your business is performing from a financial perspective is essential. Know your numbers, including budgets, forecasts, outgoings and actuals

14.  Building Relationships

Build strong relationships with clients, partners, and stakeholders to drive collaboration and business growth. People buy from people, so mastering your human skills is a non-negotiable

15.  Integrity

Lead by example. Do what you say you will do, demonstrate the company values and build trust across the business. Hold your hands up if you make a mistake, as this will encourage a ‘safe to fail’ environment

16.  Problem-Solving

Develop an approach that works for you to solve complex problems. Use analytical thinking, creativity, and your judgement. Lean on trusted advisors to support you

17.  Manage Your Time

Set clear priorities for your day and week. Delegate clearly and concisely and hold others to account to deliver. Focus on high-value activities and clear your diary of what we call ‘£10 tasks’ that are starving the company from your capabilities

18.  Develop your Profile

Build a strong professional network around you including industry key people of influence and those who have already succeeded in what you want to achieve. Leverage your influence to drive new opportunities and consider new partnerships along the way

19.  Crisis Management

Stay cool, calm and composed when the sh*t hits the fan. This is a true sign of strong leadership, where your team know you have their back through difficult times

20.  Invest in your Culture

Embrace diversity and create an inclusive work environment that values and celebrates differences. Have inclusivity at the forefront of all decisions that you make

21.  Self-Reflection

Even the most accomplished Leaders continue to learn and grow every day, so it’s important to engage in regular self-reflection. Ask for feedback from those you work with and identify ways to improve and hone your leadership skills – it’s a case of practice, not perfection

Taking ownership

Becoming a Next Level Leader is multi-faceted – from mastering your mindset, to diversifying your skills, and developing essential qualities that will inspire your people.

The sign of a great leader is that they’ve never ‘made it’, because the work is never done. You’ll always be presented with new business challenges and complications in managing your people and driving performance, but if you focus on developing these 21 things and embrace the journey, you’ll go far.

#PeopleFirstAlways #NextLevelLeader #EmpowerLeadership