The Basal Of Leadership

The 2 Most Foundational Leadership Skills

 A humongous tree, huge canopy spans across the entire canvas, thick trunk, sprawling branches
Mid Journey Prompt: A humongous tree, huge canopy spans across the entire canvas, thick trunk, sprawling branches, tiny long roots, two small orbs in the bottom, technical drawing, 2D illustration, Cross section, dramatically proportioned


A friend asked me if there were a few leadership skills that most of my coaching clients came to me for. In fact, there are two: self-knowledge and communication.

I have always been hesitant to share them because I know how they might come across - hyperbolic, simplistic, and artificially controversial. However, I believe these two skills are by far the most critical to good leadership, and all leaders should be working on them. If this rubs you the wrong way, I apologize. I am not trying to be controversial or get likes; please blame my lack of wit, not my will.

Let's dive in.

Skill 1: Self-knowledge

(or call it whatever you see fit - awareness, mastery, talanton ...)

Self-knowledge is like when you are a Honda Civic ...

  1. You know you are a Honda Civic
  2. You accept you are just a Honda Civic
  3. You know how to drive like a Honda Civic
  4. You drive like a Honda Civic
  5. You deliver the most value you can as a Honda Civic

That's self-knowledge - nothing more, nothing less. It's not complicated, but it is complex. To illustrate what being skilled at self-knowledge might look like, here are a few questions:

  • What are my personal strengths and weaknesses as a leader?
  • Who is the authentic me? What about my authentic self is useful to me, others, and the team?
  • What motivates me? What will I find meaningful about my professional career when I am 40, 50, 60, on my deathbed, confessing to my mom, answering my children?
  • What are my tendencies in how I choose, decide, act, and react?
  • How can I stay true to my values even in challenging situations? How have I done so far?
  • How do I come across? How do I want to come across? What are the gaps? How do I feel about the gaps?
  • How do I behave when I am stressed and under pressure? What about when I am relaxed and in pleasure? What are my coping mechanisms?
  • What triggers peace and calm in me? What makes me emotionally unhelpful? What are those emotions and how do I regulate them?
  • How do I manage my resources, from energy to money to time to attention?
  • How do I stop, start, continue? How do I give up, begin, persist?
  • What do I know? What do I not know? What do I need to know?

Skill 2: Communication

I know. Communication is broad, and that's precisely why I think all leaders must be working on some aspects of how they communicate. It's the most encompassing skill. I find it useful to look at communication using five segments:

  1. Inform to educate
  2. Influence to convince
  3. Facilitate to resolve
  4. Motivate to inspire
  5. Empathize to relate

I have these five segments in front of me every time I talk to my clients. I use them to guide our investigations. Let me use a few questions to give you an idea:

  • How can I effectively inform and educate my team on new company policies and procedures?
  • How can I influence and convince investors or upper management to give me more money, budget, resources, headcounts?
  • How can I facilitate discussions and debates among team members to resolve conflicts, spark creativity, cultivate trust, and endure candor?
  • What techniques can I use to motivate and inspire others to want to grow, to have goals, to reach their goals, to achieve great (and difficult) results?
  • How can I empathize with team members so I am relatable enough to be useful to them?

While there are other important leadership skills, such as strategic thinking, problem-solving, and negotiation, ultimately, self-knowledge and communication are the foundation upon which most other leadership skills are built.

What do you think? I would love to hear your thoughts!


Reply and chat with me! Tell me what you think of this. Or whatever is on your mind. I will always reply, I guarantee it.

Share this with someone whom you think wants to sound smarter, and or anyone who deserves something light and fun. ย (Plus, they trust your recommendations more than my LinkedIn ads.)

Thank you for reading this. I think about leadership & psychology in the showers. I know it's odd, but these topics are important and fun. I hope you find them useful too.

Work diligently. You are bound to be successful.