Show as: Mobile
Leader talking to people in an office

What are the cutting-edge skills needed for success in leadership? (Spoiler alert: There isn’t much new)

This article is written by guest author Bob Mason, Managing Partner at The Daedelus Group

Leading a team can be challenging, but it’s easier when leaders know basic leadership skills and how to apply them in their own situations. There is certainly plenty of information available about leadership and how to be a good leader. (In fact, a quick search for “leadership books” on Amazon will return more than 60,000 results).

That’s both good and bad. It’s good because there is lots of information available. It’s bad because there is lots of information available. Let me explain.

The inconvenient truth is that leadership development is a business with lots of practitioners. To be considered a thought leader or have a best-selling book, it seems to be necessary to present something new or different.

And that’s the problem.

Leadership Development- the Basic Skills

There is really nothing new in leadership. In fact, a good primer on leadership is a book called Cyrus the Great. Written about 100 years after the fact by the Greek historian Xenophon, the book chronicles the rise of Cyrus the Great who created the Persian Empire in the 6th century BCE.

Still relevant and still available, it presents a good narrative of leadership skills and techniques that we teach today. This book should be on the shelf of anyone serious about effective leadership.

In an effort to find something new and different, it is easy to make things more complicated than they need to be. The fact is that the basic skills needed to be an effective leader haven’t changed much in thousands of years.

HOW each leader applies those skills to their own situation to meet their own challenges does change, though.

The skills are the same.

Leaders must develop a clear understanding of leadership skills so they can adapt those skills to unique challenges.

What is Leadership?

A review of those 60,000 some books will provide a wide variety of definitions and models of leadership. Some definitions are quite involved, and models are often very complex, even artistic.

At its most fundamental level, leadership is--

Getting things done through people.

That’s it! From the first-line supervisor to the CEO of the company, all leaders are tasked to accomplish something. The only way they will be successful is by working with other people. Therefore, they get things done through people.

Is that too simplified?

Academics spend considerable time studying the deeper nuances of leadership. If you are a serious student of leadership their deep analysis is certainly interesting. But if you are trying to lead a team when things aren’t going well or you’re trying to put a failing company back on track, all that will not help much.

What will help is recognizing that you have a task to accomplish and your ability to work with and lead the people on your team is what will make you successful at that task.

Who is a Leader... and Who is a Good Leader?

There is a considerable amount of ink, both real and virtual, spent on the topic of management versus leadership, and who’s who.

Popular, but incorrect comments such as, “He’s a manager, he’s just not a leader,” and “Managers and supervisors are not leaders, leadership is a function of the executive level” are far too common.”  

Such attempts at making a distinction between management and leadership are just a silly waste of time and can be harmful. Remember that leadership is getting things done through people. Therefore, it follows that any person who is responsible for what others do is, by default, a leader.

The question then is not if they are a leader-- they are. The only question is, are they a good leader?

This is where another unfortunate discussion revolves-- WHO can be a good leader?

Do certain people have talent that will result in effective leadership while others do not? The answer to that is an emphatical ‘no’!

In more than 40 years of leading teams and developing leaders, I’ve become convinced there is no particular genetic makeup, no specific strand of DNA that will ensure leadership success.

In fact, I’ve found there are really only two requirements to become an effective leader.

  1. A real desire to be an effective leader 
  2. A willingness to learn the skills of good leadership 

That’s it. Anyone who can meet those two requirements will likely become an effective leader.

Leadership is getting things done through people. Anyone who is responsible for what others do or produce is a leader and should strive to learn leadership skills and then apply them to their own leadership responsibilities.

Are you a leader or a good leader? 

Become a more effective leader no matter your title.

Browse courses from The Daedelus Group

Last updated: 03 Nov 2022
Picture of Bob Mason
Bob Mason
Guest Author, Managing Partner at The Daedelus Group

You might also be interested in:

Last updated: 10/29/2020

Top 5 Skills Volunteering Teaches You

Help out a good cause and develop your professional skills. Read about the real-world skills that you will learn from volunteering!

Read more
Last updated: 11/3/2022

Going Beyond Your DEI Acronym

More than just changing their diversity acronym, organizations must design goal-aligned strategic actions if they're going to successfully create an inclusive workplace. Orange Grove Consultants reveals how.

Read more
Last updated: 6/30/2021

Leaders "Burn Bright" With Resilience Training

L&D professionals recently cited resilience and adaptability as 2021's "power skill" for employee development. In response to this finding, published Resilience: the Power Skill of the 2021 Workplace. Training expert, Center for Creative Leadership amplifies the message by explaining how leaders can leverage resilience as a recharge tool for peak performance.

Read more
Last updated: 12/13/2021

When to Coach and When to Manage

How can coaching help you become a better leader? Here, Dr. Maria Nemeth explains how coaching can help you effectively connect with your team.

Read more
Last updated: 10/21/2022

5 Essential Skills Every Director Needs

Want to take your organization to greater heights? Here are 5 top skills that every director should master to lead your people to success.

Read more


Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion courses

See the list


Our newsletter
Leave your email and stay updated on professional training