9 Skills You’ll Need to be a Great Leader

be a great leader

Leadership is a critical trait to possess if you’d like to advance in your career. However, when you’re at the bottom of the totem pole, you may think the ladder to manager is difficult to climb. As long as you are mindful of certain skills, though, you can do very well. We recently had a management discussion where so many great gems were shared, and we figured we’d highlight some of the best ones.

People Skills

Being a manager means you need to be good with people. You are able to talk effectively and grow productive interactions. You’re able to understand people, and make decisions that people won’t necessarily be receptive to.

Business Understanding

A manager needs to know the core focus of the business and is able to write in a way that is understood by all. For coding in particular, a leader needs to know how to write good code that is easily maintainable. A software engineer manager also needs to be able to recognize unclean code and give solid feedback to the programmer on how to improve that code.


Leaders take initiative. They don’t sit and wait for the work to be handed to them. They evaluate what’s on the table and say “we need to do X, Y, and Z, in order to achieve our goals of A, B, and C.” Oh, and by the way, you’ll probably have to determine goals A, B, and C too.

Project Estimation

No matter what business you are in, you need to know how long it will take to do something. Your civil engineering project may take a lot longer than you assume it will take. Your web design job may take 3 months, not the 3 weeks you suspect it might take. You need to look the minimal completion date–and then stick to it! Good leaders know the capabilities of the team in front of them and are able to know whether that deadline is doable, and how to ensure the deadline is met.

Delegation of Tasks

For someone who is becoming a leader, you will likely find this the most challenging, mostly because you are going to want to do it yourself rather than give it to someone else to do. But congrats–you’re at the point where you are supposed to give up control. Now, just be sure you trust your employee to complete the task.


You don’t trust your employee to complete the task? Make sure she knows how to improve and be better for it. You can’t do it all, especially if you want to move up!


You’ll have to deal with conflict, put out internal or client fires, and assigning projects to team members. You may have control over the budget as well. You may have to be a lot more client facing.

Recommending Technology

People are looking to YOU to give solid advice on the technology to adopt. Find out what tools are out there that can make you a better employee. Listen to your colleagues and hear out their suggestions. Then look for a way to adopt and implement the technology. Have an open mind and be sure to evaluate the solutions to make the best informed decision.

Working with Vendors/Contractors

You will probably be doing a lot more of the legwork on the solutions that are currently being utilized by your company. You will also be working with other contractors. You may be managing the statements of work and evaluating results of these third party relationships.

This is just the beginning. Author Bill Karwin gives many more suggestions. Check out the full discussion on CareerDean.

Business Manager Photo via Shutterstock

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