Feeling a change in the wind? Thinking about changing your role? Looking for that next career move? Not sure whether you can?
Steady your questions. Moving between roles and/or industries isn’t a case of mission impossible. If you’re already in a leadership role, all signs point to you already having (almost) all the skills you need.
That’s right. You’re a chameleon, you just don’t know it yet. And by identifying and harnessing these “portable” leadership skills you can stand out in any job search.
So, let’s run through the top six transferable leadership skills that will allow you to lead with confidence and competence. Anytime, anyplace, any role, any industry, any team.
Transferable Leadership Skill #1 Taking initiative
Now, when it comes to transferable leadership skills, taking initiative comes first and foremost. Leaders are the people that make things happen. They set the tone for creating and implementing ideas and processes. And then they encourage people to follow suit.
And personal motivation is an absolute prerequisite for taking initiative. Leading necessitates a high level of grit. And, no matter the industry, this transferable leadership skill is a must. Leaders are highly motivated individuals who are able to self-organise and self-drive.
Making decisions comes with taking initiative. Great leaders are able to make decisions, set a clear vision and mission for desired outcomes. And then they set forth the path for their team to follow. To victory.
Taking initiative also doesn’t just involve creating and delegating tasks. Leaders know the initiative is a two-way street. And so, they make it a family affair by encouraging employee collaboration in creative problem solving and brainstorming ideas for future projects.
Transferable Leadership Skill #2 Motivating others
Now of course leaders tend to be inherently motivated people. But what about those around them? Inspiring a team towards a shared vision is crucial for leadership. Which makes motivation a crucial transferable leadership skill. Great leaders inspire.
But what are you motivating people towards? Motivation requires a vision. And the best leaders create a (compelling) vision. They keep the grand plan in alignment with the company culture in order to inspire their people into action.
Motivating others also requires a certain level of empathy. It’s what enables leaders to understand how their people “tick”. And this level of insight allows leaders to tailor their communication style. In a way, that resonates with those they’re trying to influence.
Another key component of motivation is garnering trust. Having a loyal band of followers willing to move towards an end goal. Leaders incorporate the value systems that drive their followers in order to create a vision they believe in.
Transferable Leadership Skill #3 Negotiation
Great leadership can’t exist without great negotiation skills. And this goes beyond the official “negotiation table”. Leaders need to negotiate the complexities of the workplace on a day to day basis. Be it decisions, personalities, project road-bumps or conflicts of interest.
Active listening is a key component of a successful negotiation. Communication is a two-way street and the best leaders know this. They attentively listen to the interests of followers, stakeholders and higher-level managers alike. And then they use this feedback to address the problem.
Just like communication, negotiation can’t be all one-way traffic. This is where collaboration comes into the fold to produce the ever-desirable win-win scenario. Leaders encourage joint problem solving to keep things fair and create the best possible outcomes.
The art of negotiation also requires sharp thinking. Effective leaders are skilled decision makers and can think quickly on their feet. And judging when a decision will or will not fare well is crucial in navigating tensions and handling conflicts of interest. Smart decision making for quick conflict resolution.
Transferable Leadership Skill #4 Management
No grand plan can be accomplished without implementation. And this is where management comes into play. Management is the single most important transferable leadership skill. Leaders are hired to manage. And manage they must.
First off the bat, time management. Scheduling, delegating and managing time is an essential leadership skill in every industry. Leaders need to keep their eye on the clock and supervise team performance. To ensure tasks and projects are completed within their designated time frame.
People management is a little less clear-cut, and a lot more intuitive than time management. Leaders skillfully tailor their leadership styles according to the skills and needs of their people to create group synergies and united action towards a common goal.
Leaders also manage projects seamlessly. They know how to master the art of delegation for project success. They communicate tasks clearly, create a blueprint for success, and provide additional resources. And effective leaders constantly check in with their people to ensure any concerns are raised and issues resolved...before it’s too late!
Transferable Leadership Skill #5 Communication
If you can’t communicate, it is very difficult to lead well. Effective communication skills are defining leadership qualities. Be it one-on-one conversations, team meetings, emails, phone calls, conference meetings, or public speaking, leaders must constantly handle rapid flows of information.
We’ve already mentioned active listening as an essential transferable skill. But, just to drive the point home, listening is a must. Communicating isn’t just about your own outputs, which is why great leaders don’t dictate. They don’t hog the talking stick. They don’t just wait for their turn to talk. They actively listen to other people’s perspectives.
Now, part of this listening is soliciting feedback. Leaders skilled in the fine art of communication never assume the message people heard is the same one they intended to deliver.
And leaders need to communicate in a way that resonates with their followers. Knowing how and when to alter communication styles is an essential skill. It’s how leaders convey empathy, improve rapport, promote understanding and build relationships of trust.
Transferable Leadership Skill #6 Learning attitude
Last but by no means least on the transferrable skills bucket list: the desire to learn. Constantly. Transferring from one leadership role to another requires leaders to have an open mind. A learning attitude is essential for leadership development. And without it all transferable skills are useless.
Leaders need to be open to building their repertoire of professional skills. To become experts in their “new” field. Being open to learning about all areas of an organisation is how leaders develop “deep expertise” of the business itself.
In order to transfer to another role, leaders need to be actually open to moving out of their comfort zone. There’s no “one set way” to lead, which means that leaders should always be open to new methods and tactics for their own self-improvement.
If you’re adept at taking initiative, motivating others, skilled in the art of negotiation, know how to manage and communicate effectively, and carry a learning attitude wherever you go, all signs point to you having all of the leadership skills you need to lead – no matter the industry.
And so, stress less. Moving between leadership roles isn’t a case of mission impossible after all. You just need to identify and harness your portable leadership skills and unleash your inner chameleon.