What are the qualities of a good leader?
We all know what it feels like to follow someone inspirational, but when it comes to describing your own leadership qualities on a CV to a total stranger, it is difficult to venture beyond tired cliches.
When you are sharing your leadership skills on your CV, you need to share your skills in context, not use words to describe them. Your future boss will understand what was involved in a certain achievement, so trust them to use their judgement when it comes to assessing your skill set. Choose to highlight aspects of your experience that encompass all the skills that you wish to portray.
Selecting which leadership skills to share is no simple matter. Analyse the demands of each job description and make sure that your CV is in tune. In this blog, we will investigate how to go about describing your approach to leading others.
- What is leadership?
- How to tell a leadership-centric career story
- 12 leadership skills examples to consider including on your CV
- Should you call yourself a leader?
Assessing your managerial qualities is an important focus of any interview. Write a CV that will guide an interviewer towards the questions that you wish to be asked.
Aren’t leadership skills assumed if I am a manager?
Just because you have been given the title of “manager” doesn’t mean that you are good at leading people. Most managers have a lot of improving to do. As you will see from our leadership skills examples, there are plenty of ways you can expand and develop.
What is leadership?
Leadership comes into its own when those around you need to go on a journey and need your help to get there.
The nature of your leadership will take many forms depending on what they need from you, and it may not mean that they are required to follow your example. Great leaders walk alongside their people, offer support when they stumble and a compass when they lose their way. Sometimes, leadership is about knowing when not to get involved.
Employers want to take on new employees who both have a track record of leadership but also show the potential to grow further in their people management skills. Your ability to lead is a work in progress as the nuances of your experiences inform your future decisions. Your CV should ideally show a progression of your leadership skills.
Above all, demonstrate that you are curious about people. Leadership comes easy when you understand what makes others behave in a certain way.
How to include leadership skills in your career story
No hiring manager will be impressed with a CV skills list, summary, or employment history section packed with leadership synonyms.
In their eyes, only someone who lacks the requisite skills will be satisfied with describing them with a generic word. If you have some amazing leadership experience, weave your career story around it so that it is framed by your accomplishments.
Tell your future boss about your part in the project team’s success. Mention the employee that you mentored who went on to better things. Share an unbelievable achievement that couldn’t possibly have been achieved without immense focus and planning.
In all the above examples, you do not need to be explicit about the leadership skills examples involved. Your hiring manager will understand.
12 leadership skills examples to include in the mix
When you look at a job description for the first time, the first question that comes into your head is: “Can I do this?” It is only after you mentally tick this box that you wonder whether you will enjoy it. If you don’t have what it takes to excel at a role, you won’t.
When leadership skills may not be explicitly detailed in a job description, the nature of the role will hint at the mix of skills that you would be expected to possess. Read between the lines and make sure that your CV reflects the right mix. Here are some excellent leadership skills examples to consider:
When a leader is creative, they simultaneously open up new avenues for those around them and act as a model to encourage further innovative thinking. If those around you see you taking bold decisions that flirt with failure, they will feel happier to do the same.
A leader who is focussed and knows what they want to achieve is someone who sets a sensible trajectory that others understand. Have you undertaken any projects that have demanded a particular focus from you and your colleagues?
Great leaders plan for both expected and unexpected events with vision and precision. When you work for someone who knows the consequences of their actions and the paths that they could take in the case of various contingencies, it helps you to sleep at night.
Managing people effectively is a given for any leader but approaches to managing others can vary. Offer some details about how you have handled various people management situations — this will give a good indication of cultural fit for any employer.
One of the most important leadership skills is the ability to motivate themselves and others when all seems lost. The moment that something goes wrong, sometimes all you have to hold on to is hope. Motivation isn’t so important when things are going well.
Every leader should be aware of their impact on those around them. When the time comes to pivot in a project or make changes in a strategy, the self-aware leader takes a moment to consider how they will go about it. What is your management style in such moments? This is one of the most important leadership skills examples.
You may think that consistency is a boring trait to share on a CV, but when a leader is predictable it allows their people to think a few steps ahead. Unpredictable leaders make those around them feel insecure and uncertain about what is to come.
Sharing a project where the end was not in sight when you started is a great example of where you need to discover a vision of how to get there. The best leaders can project this path and motivate those around them to come with them.
It is one thing to make good decisions, but another thing to make them and stick with them. Leaders who change their minds every five minutes are not people who will be followed with confidence for very long.
Change lies at the heart of every ambitious organisation. Proficient leaders help people to grow through change rather than be side-lined by it. When change offers the space for development some people just need a little encouragement to make it happen.
Sometimes great leaders need to take the pressure off themselves and their teams. If you are someone who can stand up and say “do you know what, can you deal with this, please?” then you will lighten the load for those around you. In a busy world, this is one of the most valuable leadership skills examples.
Persuading people to do something that they didn’t originally plan to do is a superpower. When a leader is out there batting for their team, the outcomes of influencing skills will have a disproportionate impact on everyone. Does your influence help your team?
Should you call yourself a leader?
Having stressed the importance of not using generic words to describe your leadership qualities, there is one word that you should not shy away from in a CV and during an interview. Yes, you guessed it.
Calling yourself a leader (and backing it up with evidence) will stick in a hiring manager’s mind. Don’t be subtle about this. Few people would be brave enough to talk about leadership directly without being able to justify their claims, so include the word “leader” in your CV a couple of times.
Leadership action words — along with the right leadership skills examples — will also help in this respect. Don’t leave the hiring manager in any doubt as to your belief in your ability to lead others. It is a skill to be proud of.
Hiring managers will be looking for specific qualities in every employee that they hire, but when you reach a certain level of seniority, leadership skills examples are a must in any industry or function.
- Be specific in how you outline your leadership skills examples.
- Match your leadership style with the corporate culture.
- Offer context to your leadership story wherever possible.
- Use the word “leader” — but not too frequently.