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Seven Skills for Effective Leadership Print

Based on the book Leadership for Everyone (McGraw-Hill 2005)
by Dr. Peter J. Dean, President, Leaders By Design

The L.E.A.D.E.R.S. Method contains the essential skills necessary for any effective leader to practice. While these skills are practiced to some degree individually, it is their integration and systematic use that will result in optimum leadership ability.

And, as more leaders practice the Method, leadership will be demonstrated at all levels of an organization. L.E.A.D.E.R.S. is an acronym for seven critical skills:

1)  Listen to Learn- Leaders who listen to learn understand that true listening employs consistent eye contact, facing the speaker, avoiding distractions and waiting until the speaker is finished before responding.

2) Empathize with Emotions- This entails aligning the leader's personal feelings with those they are in contact with without letting sympathy for the other person cause a loss of objectivity.

3) Attend to Aspirations- Personal goals should be acknowledged and encouraged in order for aspirations to thrive in a positive climate.

4) Diagnose and Detail- A leader must have the skills to diagnose and detail the facts in any conversation in order to avoid wrong assumptions and undesirable conclusions.

5) Engage for Good Ends- Leadership entails selecting the right course of action in planning, decision making, and business practice to help bring the best overall results for the company while adhering to ethical standards.

6) Respond with Respectfulness- Respectful leaders honor the worth and dignity of individuals, are sensitive to power differences, and resolve conflicts with honesty and patience.

7) Speak with Specificity- Speaking reveals leadership skills as well as the personal power and sphere of influence one has in an organization.

Using these essential skills, leadership is not restricted to positions of authority or stature and can, in fact, be practiced by individuals acting within their sphere of influence without being labeled as leaders.

The opportunity for practicing everyday leadership is fueled by the speed of change. Our global society is experiencing an ever-increasing rate of change in the areas of technology, economics, politics, social factors, knowledge, and systematic thinking. There is change not only within these categories, but because of the interaction and crossover among categories, and the expectation is that the rate of change will continue to increase.

The difficulty of any change is that it is likely to be extremely complex, and is certain to tax the attention, intelligence, powers, and will of anyone interested in initiating and managing transformation. Change requires an honest articulation of fresh visions of the future, and that vision can come from virtually any level of an organization.

When individuals practice these seven leadership skills and acknowledge change, the entire organization benefits. Management is easier when leadership resides throughout all organizational levels with each person utilizing his or her sphere of influence in a positive way. These skills allow individuals to develop expertise earlier in their careers and demonstrate greater productivity, resulting in a more enjoyable and positive work environment.

2006 (c) Dr. Peter J. Dean

About the Author

DR. PETER J. DEAN, President of Leaders By Design, the leadership development and coaching firm, has served as an international coach and consultant for many Fortune 500 and other companies worldwide.  He currently holds the O. Alfred Granum Chair in Management at The American College, where he is a Management and Leadership Professor.  He is a lecturer on Communication, Ethics and Leadership at The Wharton School, and on Leadership in the Public Domain at the Fels Center of Government, both at The University of Pennsylvania.  He received his Ph.D. in Learning Psychology and Human Resource Management from the University of Iowa, a Masters of Science in Organizational Dynamics from the University of Pennsylvania, and a Bachelor of Science in Business from Morningside College.  Dr. Dean's eighth book, Leadership for Everyone, was published by McGraw-Hill in September 2005. 

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