Top 20 leadership skills to feature in your CV

Leadership skills are important, whether you’re applying for a management position or not. Learn about the best leadership skills to feature in your CV.

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Table of Contents

  1. What are leadership skills?
  2. Top 20 leadership skills
  3. 6 tips for featuring your leadership skills
  4. How to improve your leadership skills?
  5. More job skill tips
  6. FAQ: Leadership skills

What are leadership skills?

Leadership skills help people effectively motivate and take charge of managing others in various work-related situations. Even in non-management roles, showing that you can perform leadership can impress hiring managers and recruiters. It’s important to highlight your leadership skills in both your CV and cover letter.

On this page you will find valuable information on key leadership skills, how to use them and how to develop them.


Top 20 leadership skills

Whether or not a company is hiring for a managerial or leadership role, hiring managers will always be looking for leadership qualities in job seekers. Leadership skills are highly transferable and can be beneficial in many different jobs and work situations. Our picks for the top 20 leadership skills include:

  1. Adaptability

    Adaptability is a valuable leadership skill because it shows that a job candidate can easily and effectively adjust to unpredictable changing circumstances by making changes accordingly.

    A customer service manager uses adaptability when evaluating a customer’s issue and quickly coming up with a solution to the problem.

    An event planner uses adaptability when faced with the challenges of coordinating the many elements necessary to planning a memorable and successful event.

  2. Communication skills

    Communication skills are a valuable leadership skill because it shows that a job candidate can speak clearly and authoritatively to delegate tasks, provide instruction and keep a department running smoothly and efficiently.

    An editor uses communication leadership skills to correct grammatical errors and typos and provide authoritative direction of written content in a variety of industries like journalism, SEO and advertising.

    An interpreter uses communication leadership skills to confidently translate content into an understandable language based on audience requirements.

  3. Conflict resolution

    Conflict resolution is a valuable leadership skill because it shows that a job candidate can handle challenging and often uncomfortable work situations.

    A police officer uses conflict resolution skills to listen objectively, suggest compromise and implement solutions to law-related situations.

    An insurance agent uses conflict resolution when fairly and honestly handling a client’s insurance claim. A common insurance payout or denial may be part of resolving the conflict.

  4. Creativity

    Creativity is a valuable leadership skill because it shows that a job candidate can think “out of the box” to come up with imaginative ways to impress a client or motivate a team to produce successfully.

    A graphic designer uses creativity to produce the most compelling designs that sell a product or service.

    A photographer uses creativity to uniquely capture moments whether photographing people, objects or scenery.

  5. Decision-making

    Decision-making is a valuable leadership skill because it shows that a job candidate can combine confidence, maturity and knowledge when implementing a decision.

    A veterinarian uses decision-making upon examining an animal in order to come up with a diagnosis, treatment, prescription or procedure.

    An HR director uses decision-making when selecting a job candidate upon the completion of an interview for a particular role.

  6. Emotional intelligence

    Emotional intelligence is a valuable leadership skill because it shows that a job candidate possesses the ability to understand and manage one’s own emotions while interacting with team members and employees.

    A social work representative uses emotional intelligence to evaluate a client’s needs and provide an action plan to provide assistance as necessary.

    A copywriter uses emotional intelligence to put feelings into words in order to gain a response from readers.

  7. Empathy

    Empathy is a valuable leadership skill because it shows that a job candidate can easily and objectively recognize the emotions of others and provide necessary support.

    A health coach uses empathy when discussing a plan of action with a client who may be challenged by making healthy changes in order to help resolve a medical issue.

    A loan officer uses empathy when discussing financial solutions with client’s facing financial difficulties.

  8. Interpersonal skills

    Interpersonal skills are valuable leadership skills because it shows that a job candidate can provide a positive and welcoming attitude when communicating and providing support to team members, customers and clients.

    A bank teller uses interpersonal skills with customers by exhibiting friendliness and confidence when handling important monetary transactions.

    A public relations professional uses interpersonal skills to successfully and positively represent a client whether at a press conference, public speaking engagement or media interviews.

  9. Management skills

    Management skills is a valuable leadership skill because it shows that a job candidate can set a good example for team members, provide direction, delegate tasks and provide confident authority when called upon.

    A marketing manager uses management skills to create a project direction, effectively assign tasks, manage deadlines, review components and present to stakeholders.

    A store manager uses management skills to oversee all store operations from productivity, inventory and financial perspectives to employee and customer-related functions.

  10. Mentoring

    Mentoring is a valuable leadership skill because it shows that a job candidate takes initiative to lead, train, nurture and motivate others.

    A nanny uses mentoring to provide effective childcare related to the health and well-being of children.

    An athletic coach uses mentoring to athletically train a team while at the same time, encouraging sportsmanship, healthy values and the motivation to continually improve.

  11. Negotiation skills

    Negotiation is a valuable leadership skill because it shows that a job candidate can help form a compromise or agreement among two or more parties to find a common and peaceful solution in the workplace or other career-related situations.

    A lawyer uses negotiation skills when presenting arguments to a jury and judge in court or while providing mediation as in the case of divorced couples.

    A real estate agent uses negotiation skills when it comes to assisting house sellers and house buyers in the interest of executing offers and contracts.

  12. Persuasive skills

    Persuasive skills are valuable because they show that a job candidate can provide a rational argument for taking a positive action or response. This can be when selling a product or service or motivating a team to perform successfully.

    A retail sales associate uses persuasive skills to convince shoppers to buy a particular product.

    An advertising account executive uses persuasive skills to sell an advertising campaign to a client in regards to a product or service.

  13. Problem-solving

    Problem-solving is a valuable leadership skill because it shows that a job candidate can analyze, diagnose and resolve conflict effectively or guide a team to success.

    A doctor uses problem-solving to diagnose a patient, prescribe a pill, or decide on a treatment plan, further testing, procedure or surgery.

    A computer science specialist uses problem-solving when it comes to troubleshooting a software or hardware issue and determining a solution.

  14. Project Management

    Project management is a valuable leadership skill because it shows that a job candidate can effectively communicate with project team members, clients and stakeholders to achieve success.

    An engineering project manager uses project management to lead the engineering team including planning, budgeting and quality assurance of engineering projects from inception to completion.

    A construction superintendent uses project management to oversee all aspects of the construction process, whether a residential dwelling or a commercial building.

  15. Reliability

    Reliability is a valuable leadership skill because it shows that a job candidate can be trusted to get a job done effectively, efficiently and in a timely manner.

    A teacher demonstrates reliability by responsibly showing up at school every day to instruct a classroom of students, follow an approved lesson plan and lead students to academic success.

    A pilot uses reliability by arriving at the airport on time and prepared to lead a flight full of passengers to a specific travel destination.

  16. Self-awareness

    Self-awareness shows that job candidates hold a thoughtful understanding of their own personal character traits, values, emotions and behaviors, thereby showing self-motivation to achieve career goals.

    A restaurant manager uses self-awareness to oversee busy restaurant operations in a calm, authoritative manner even when faced with challenging restaurant patrons.

    An emergency medical technician (EMT) uses self-awareness by keeping emotions in check while meeting the overwhelming challenges of critical, fast-paced and emotional emergency calls.

  17. Strategic thinking

    Strategic thinking is a valuable leadership skill showing that a job candidate has a creative, competitive thought process to help a team or company achieve successful results.

    A business analyst uses strategic thinking to analyze how a business is performing and provide a strategic plan to improve or optimize processes and systems.

    A financial advisor uses strategic thinking to assess a financial portfolio and provide financial direction of investments based on a client’s goals and vision.

  18. Strong work ethic

    Strong work ethic shows that despite challenges, a job candidate will do what it takes to get the job done.

    An internal auditor uses a strong work ethic to provide an honest analysis of financial documents and records to uncover any inaccuracies or investigative concerns.

    A chief executive officer (CEO) uses a strong work ethic to ensure that a company is performing successfully in the areas of productivity, profitability, communications, strategy and the overall well-being of the organization’s employees.

  19. Team-building skills

    Team-building skills shows that a job candidate can lead employees to work more efficiently together.

    A recruiter uses team-building skills to continually search for the best job candidates and provide incentive and motivation for those job seekers to join a team in any given department of an organization.

    A filmmaker uses team-building skills to motivate the entire cast and crew to come together to develop the best film production as possible.

  20. Time management

    Time management is a valuable leadership skill because it shows that a job candidate can excel at planning time to perform varying time-sensitive tasks to meet strict deadlines.

    A nurse uses time management to provide quality attention to multiple patients simultaneously while adhering to strict time constraints regarding testing, administering medications and monitoring conditions.

    A hotel front desk clerk uses time management to effectively juggle the check-in and check out processes, provide concierge services and act as liaison among housekeeping, restaurant, shuttle services, event planning and more.

6 tips for featuring your leadership skills

Leadership skills on a CV can help you stand out among other candidates. That’s why it’s important to feature your leadership skills to gain maximum attention from hiring managers and recruiters. Here are some expert tips to consider when writing your leadership skills.

  1. Look over the job description and pinpoint important leadership skills to highlight

    required for the job that you are applying for. If a job description lists project management as a requirement, you want to list that skill to show you can perform the job successfully.

  2. List your leadership skills in your CV skills section

    The best place on your CV to highlight your best and most relevant leadership skills will be directly in the skills section. A busy hiring manager may only have a few seconds to peruse your CV and will no doubt pay close attention to the featured skills.

  3. Give work examples in your summary and work experience section that emphasize communication skills

    When you describe your work experience, use action words to describe specific, measurable tasks or accomplishments you achieved while using leadership skills.

    Work history examples:

    • Implemented quality control strategies to protect business assets and minimize waste by 22%.
    • Synchronized work to improve efficiency, eliminate bottlenecks and streamline processes.
    • Collaborated daily with team leaders to coordinate information across teams.
    • Directed administrative staff in regards to finances, customer contacts and recordkeeping.
    • Solely handled store opening and closing processes abiding to safety protocols.

  4. Feature leadership skills in your cover letter through specific accomplishments and how you used leadership skills to achieve them

    As opposed to a CV where you list your skills, a cover letter gives you the opportunity to include more details about your significant skills, achievements and experience. In your cover letter, expand on your effective leadership skills by highlighting your leadership accomplishments.

  5. Have a few examples of work achievements where you used leadership skills ready for job interviews

    Preparing for a job interview could make the difference when impressing a potential employer and landing the job. While preparing, jot down your leadership skills and be ready to explain how you performed those skills when asked questions about your leadership skills. You can answer effectively by using a strategy like the STAR interview method. STAR stands for: Situation, Task, Action and Result. Answer the interview question by providing a specific situation and task as well as the actions you took and the overall results.

  6. Look for opportunities to train up on leadership skills

    If you have no formal qualifications that will backup your leadership skills, consider taking professional assessments via an online course like LinkedIn learning. This will qualify your leadership skills and show you are motivated to be a leader. You should also look to take the initiative at work to mentor a junior team member to gain the necessary experience.


How to improve your leadership skills?

If you are a relatively new leader or you have very specific leadership skills, you should be honest about how you communicate your skills. Most big companies offer leadership development programs and opportunities you can take advantage of. When applying for a leadership position, simply highlight the specific skills you already have and make sure you tell potential employers what you can offer them. If you want tips on how to write an effective CV, you should refer to CVHelp’s CV writing guide.

  1. Determine your leadership strengths and weaknesses through online tests

    There are plenty of online self assessment tools to help you test the effectiveness of your leadership skills. Search online for leadership skills tests that closely match the leadership skills you will be required to perform in the job role. You can find those specific requirements in the job posting.

    By analyzing your performance through online tests, you will feel confident to back up those skill claims on your CV, cover letter or during a job interview.

  2. Take leadership training courses and exercises

    Training courses and exercises such as LinkedIn learning can help with developing leadership skills. Once you complete the courses, you can note your leadership skills certification in your CV. A hiring manager, recruiter or prospective employer will appreciate your effort to add new skills to your skill set and see that you are driven to be a leader.

  3. Seek out leadership opportunities and activities

    Examine your current work team and see where there are opportunities for you to take a leadership role. Perhaps you can spearhead a lunch-and-learn activity or weekly status meeting. Your motivation will be appreciated and will show that you can be looked upon as a leader.

  4. Study the leadership skills of successful business leaders

    There are plenty of sources online where you can read about successful leadership to gain knowledge on leadership skills. Make a list of admirable skills and see where you can fit those skills into your own career goals. Following leadership skills examples among successful leaders is a great way to build up your own list of skills.

  5. Find a mentor

    The best way to learn about leadership is to find an effective leader in your industry, someone you look up to. Being mentored by an already successful business leader with a positive leadership style is a great way to improve your own leadership skills and make a name for yourself. Consider opening a dialogue with that person via social media, email or setting up an appointment to request leadership guidance on how to improve leadership skills.

More job skill tips

CVHelp offers job seekers lots of expert resources and guides for featuring the right skills on your CV and cover letter.


FAQ: Leadership skills

Q: What is the most important leadership skill?

Effective communication is one of the most important leadership skills. To be a better leader, you need to be able to express yourself effectively in order to successfully navigate a team, project or company effort. This would include verbal and written communication, presenting, active listening, persuasion, feedback and respect.

Q: What are good leadership skills?

Good leadership skills are those skills that help you successfully demonstrate effective leadership among your team. A great leader with good skills like motivation, persuasion, flexibility, employee engagement, open-mindedness and relationship-building and can efficiently build a strong team to ensure that shared work goals are not only met but exceeded.

Q: What are 3 skills needed to be a good leader?

Three effective leadership skills performed by a good leader are employee motivation, decision-making and conflict management. It’s important to positively motivate your employees so they want to be successful. You also want to exude confidence especially when making critical decisions for the good of the team and company’s goals. And finally, you should always be prepared for uncomfortable, unexpected work situations where you’ll need to demonstrate leadership skills to handle conflict and negotiate when called upon.

Q: Do I need to list leadership skills if I’m not applying for a managerial position?

No matter your career level, strong leadership skills can be useful in most job roles and industries. A positive attitude, creativity, time management, teamwork and problem solving are just a few important skills that can help job performance and show you are a reliable team member. Oftentimes, a leader is born from necessity, when you are unexpectedly asked to lead team members in a critical work environment.

Q: How do I determine the best skills for my CV?

The first step to adding skills to your CV is to read the job description of the role you are applying to. When possible, match that leadership skills list to the skills you have acquired to be sure you can effectively perform the required job duties. Consider your competencies, key skills and main qualifications and be sure you can back up those skills on your CV, cover letter and during a job interview. CVHelp can guide you on the most effective way to list your skills on a CV.

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