The Most Important Leadership Skills To Have Aren't Surprising, But They're Still Essential

How to be a good leader is a question most of us wrestle with, especially when it comes to our professional lives. That's why it's interesting to explore what the most important leadership skills are — because while there are all different ways to be a leader, research shows that there are some traits that consistently work well.

A recent study from McKinsey & Company rounded up the 20 most important leadership skills according to their own data, and their findings are really intriguing. The study operated in three separate phases: First, based on their experience and academic research, they came up with a list of 20 leadership traits. Then, they surveyed 189,000 people in over 80 diverse organizations to assess how often these specific leadership traits were seen in their organizations. Lastly, they split their sample into two sections based on their leadership performance: strong and weak.

So, what did they find? From their original list of 20 strong leadership traits, four of them really took the cake, standing head and shoulders above the rest in terms of popularity and strength. In fact, according to the data, these four leadership traits account for 89 percent of company effectiveness. Impressive, right?

Let's break down what these traits are.

Be Supportive

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The number one trait according to McKinley's data is to be supportive of your team. This isn't too surprising: We all know how much harder it is be excited about your job when you feel that your boss isn't championing your work or your ideas.

Champion For Change

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The ability to champion for change is the second most important trait for good leadership, which also makes sense: Employees want to feel that their needs are being heard, and that calls for change or innovation are taken seriously.

Communicate Your Expectations

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Next, is another leadership trait that likely sounds familiar: the ability to communicate expectations, rewards, and consequences clearly and effectively, because we all know the horror of trying to deal with a boss who has vague expectations.

Communicate Enthusiastically

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And the fourth most popular leadership trait? This, too, relates to communication: The ability to do so enthusiastically. This makes sense in terms of a leadership role, given that people want to feel that their leader is genuinely excited and passionate about their work, no matter what field or career it is.

Regardless of where you are at in your career, or what field you're in, it's important to have good leadership skills. It's also important to recognize those skills in others, as a means of celebrating the work people are doing around you.