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Top three skills required to be a successful business leader

Some say that being a leader is something you’re born with. We believe leadership is a skill that can be taught, particularly to those with a natural flair for communication and innovative thinking. We spoke with professionals from our Business School and narrowed down some of the must-have skills for a successful business leader, as well as some tips on how to build these skills during your studies.

By Elena Carruthers. Published 16 July 2023. Last updated 14 August 2023.

1. Interpersonal skills

Senior Lecturer in Human Resource Management at the Business School, Richard Galletly, outlined the three most important leadership qualities as being: authenticity, integrity, and trust. The success of any team is dependent on its working relationships, so being able to nurture these and form strong professional connections is essential in driving success.

A business leader who communicates respectfully and clearly to their team creates an environment where team members feel comfortable confiding in them. In business and life generally, we are all unsure sometimes and need that extra bit of support. Therefore, being approachable and respected is one of the most important skills a leader can have.

“Being a good leader doesn’t mean being threatening, it has to do with understanding people, their motives, their drives.”

2. Decision-making

A strong leader is decisive. This does not mean always having the right answers but simply being confident and self-assured. Occasionally, this means taking a calculated risk and not being afraid to do so. Alongside having strong communication skills, a sense of decisiveness further inspires a team to trust in their leader.

So, how can you have confidence in your decision-making when you are only just starting out in your career? One of the best ways to build this is by gaining practical work experience and getting used to working in a business environment. Getting used to working with others and having to make decisions will help you to trust in your abilities and learn from the people around you.

To gain work experience whilst studying with us, speak to our dedicated Employability Team who will advise on the best course of action depending on your career goals. If you are an undergraduate student, we offer placement opportunities and for postgraduates, a range of support and advice tailored towards your professional development.

3. A flair for analytics

We mentioned the importance of being able to take a calculated risk, and essential to this is data. Using data-backed insights is a crucial tool for business success and is ingrained into our Business courses with modules in ‘Finance for Decision Makers’, and ‘Data Analysis for Business’, which are offered across our master’s degrees in Leadership, Strategy, Corporate Governance and Ethics, and more. In today’s fast-paced business climate, things are always changing. This requires business professionals to think on their feet and be aware of key trends that may influence business performance. This goes for both trends which may positively and negatively affect business outcomes. For many young people who have grown up in the digital age, using digital media and analysing trends may come fairly naturally. To continue to upskill in this area, it is helpful to utilise free resources such as YouTube and online courses in data analysis.

Having a keen eye for spotting trends is key, and this is possibly the distinction between a ‘good’ leader and a truly successful one – having the drive to continually create new visions and projects in line with the changing business world around us.


Take your first steps to becoming a business leader today and learn more about our postgraduate courses in Business.