Some leadership skills are highly visible and impactful. Each one relies on less spectacular or underrated abilities. Active listening, self-care, and honesty fall into this category. We don’t always appreciate them as much as decision-making or charisma, for example. Here’s a look at the five most underrated leadership skills.  

“Self-care is the most underrated leadership skill.” – Joy Donnell. 

Optimal, intelligent leadership is a finely-balanced ecosystem of leadership skills, abilities, and proclivities. Leadership coaching aims to create conditions that allow this ecosystem to take root, grow, and reach the synergy that allows it to prevail.

However, we tend to view some leadership skills as more prominent than others. Some of them are in the display windows of leadership, while others toil away in darkness. Here are some of the skills in the latter lot.


Many key leadership skills aren’t on display. 

1. Self-Care

Self-care allows leaders to manage stress. Chronic stress is a significant problem for leaders and managers. Over time, stress can pile up and lead to burnout, creating situations where leaders can’t make optimal decisions.

Proper self-care helps leaders in many ways:

  • It helps leaders prioritize values that truly matter.
  • It helps in decision-making.
  • Exercising proper self-care allows leaders to develop empathy for their teams.
  • Self-care enables leaders to be more productive throughout the day.
  • Emotionally and psychologically well-balanced leaders are happier and make their teams happier.
  • Self-care allows leaders to model behaviors that increase employee productivity, engagement, motivation, and satisfaction.

2. Active Listening

People love leaders that make good decisions under stress and often “save the day.” To make good decisions, however, leaders must be good listeners. Leadership coaching understands the value of active listening and knows it requires a fundamental ego shift from the leader.

Through executive coaching, leaders gain guidance on how they can perform this ego shift. Active listeners don’t fancy themselves as the sources of all the answers; they recognize the value of others’ input and develop their abilities to ask questions.

This leadership attitude allows leaders to collect more information and feedback from alternative perspectives. They can then put this extra data to use to refine and optimize decisions.

3. Honesty

Honesty is a cornerstone of trust, and intelligent leaders understand its impact. Executive coaching encourages leaders to recognize that even if the truth is painful, employees are better off knowing it than being kept in the dark.

Immature leaders may shy away from difficult conversations that can be emotionally taxing. Mature leaders know and understand they must handle these conversations with honesty and integrity. Provided they do so, they may be able to turn these unpleasant situations into trust-building tools and springboards for better individual and organizational performances.

4. Creating Engagement

Employee engagement is the key to employee satisfaction and performance. How can leaders achieve optimal engagement? The answers are empathy and vulnerability.

Leaders who don’t have all the answers invite help and cooperation. By doing so, they rely on employees’ skills and dedication to make things happen. Employees who know they’re instrumental in the success of their organizations assume psychological ownership of the organizational goals and grow more productive.

Engaged people understand the strategic, long-term implications of the work they do and proactively improve their performances by optimizing their alignments.

From the perspective of business coaching, employee engagement ensures lower turnover rates and cuts turnover costs.

5. Servant Leadership

Successful leaders are servant leaders. Those who serve their teams aren’t subservient. Intelligent leaders understand the empowerment and engagement of their teams are the keys to better organizational performances and act accordingly.

True leaders support and serve employees.

A servant leader’s top priority is to help employees succeed as individuals and members of an organization. Business coaching sees servant leadership as indispensable for successful organizational scaling.

Effective leaders model self-care, are honest with employees, and champion trust-based engagement. They serve teams by making it the ultimate priority to help people succeed.

Behind every highly-visible and impactful leadership skill, there are several less obvious, yet equally important abilities at work. An all-encompassing synergy allows these skills to work together to facilitate leadership effectiveness and success.



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