Important Leadership Skills for Resumes & Cover Letters

Leadership skills in the workplace
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When companies hire for leadership roles, they look for people with qualities that will allow them to successfully interact with colleagues, clients, and others in the workplace and beyond.

Only those with high integrity demonstrate leadership skills. The preferred management positions are reserved for those whom employers see strong leadership skills.

What are Leadership Skills?

Leaders have the unique ability to put others first and motivate a team to rally around a cause. While many aspire to leadership, not everyone can be a leader.

Companies looking for strong leadership skills want employees that can foresee problems while remaining driven and positive. Furthermore, executives and lower-level employees look to leaders in the organization to make sense of unique opportunities and take risks in problem-solving.

Employers also look for candidates who have a high degree of emotional intelligence, patience, and a working knowledge of human resources, in order to keep both the employee and the company taken care of.

The Most Important Skills Employers Look for in Leadership Roles


Watch Now: 8 Qualities That Make an Exceptional Leader

Verbal Communication

Communication is about more than sharing ideas information. For leaders, communication is the most fundamental skill he or she can possess when it comes to leading an individual or a team. Leaders should be able to effectively communicate with individuals groups alike.

It’s one thing to speak and another thing entirely to have people know exactly what you mean. Good communicators express themselves clearly, without engendering confusion or ambiguity. A good communicator also understands that communication goes both ways: being a good listener is as important (or more) than speaking.

  • Honesty
  • Influencing Others
  • Presentation Skills
  • Engagement
  • Active Listening
  • Mediation
  • Meeting Management
  • Negotiating
  • Networking

Nonverbal Communication

Being a good communicator also means transcending written and verbal communication. An excellent communicator will convey a sense of openness and non-judgment, even when they’re not saying anything. Body language and general bearing can convey even more than words. Employers will often seek candidates who are intrinsically calm, open, optimistic, and positive. These traits usually come through nonverbally.

  • Respectful
  • Confidence
  • Compassion
  • Interpersonal
  • Commitment
  • Courage


Managing people means supporting subordinates. That means not only enabling them to do their jobs well, but also helping them move forward in their career.

Sometimes this means helping them improve their skill sets to become better at the details of their work. Other times, it means assisting them in developing their own communication and leadership styles. Whatever the work, adopting a coaching mindset is an integral part of being a good leader. A coach encourages and supports. A coach is part cheerleader, part trainer, and a leader in a business environment should be comfortable in this role. A leader knows how to coach others into becoming leaders in their own right.

  • Inspirational
  • Motivation
  • Organization
  • Team Building
  • Teamwork
  • Vision
  • Supportive


Making sense of a project and giving direction doesn’t come naturally to everyone, but it’s an integral part of leadership. Leaders should be able to clearly and effectively make each task clear, as well as whose responsibility it is to accomplish that task. Leaders are specific and articulate expectations in such a way as to direct a team.

Subordinates should be clear on what’s expected of them. Delegation often involves more than a simple, “do X by X date.” It can involve guidance, instruction, mentorship, planning, and keeping a positive attitude even if someone is struggling.

  • Collaboration
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Coordination
  • Goal Setting
  • Planning
  • Resourceful
  • Results Oriented
  • Scheduling

Relationship Building

Along with communicating and coaching, relationship building can make or break a leader. A good leader will value relationships and actively work to build strong small and large teams. Relationship building could be as simple as remembering certain personal details about others and checking in with them. Or, it could be more purposeful, and involve out-of-work activities and team-building efforts like retreats and events.

Most of all, building relationships is about authenticity and genuinely connecting with people in a way that creates familiarity and a sense of community.

There are leadership opportunities across the board in almost every industry imaginable. If you possess some of these traits, along with good judgment, honesty, and a sense of humor, pursuing a career in leadership could be right for you.

More Leadership Skills

  • Achievement
  • Adaptability
  • Analytical
  • Business Development
  • Business Intelligence
  • Creative Thinking
  • Critical Thinking
  • Decision Making
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Enthusiastic
  • Entrepreneurial
  • Financial Management
  • Flexibility
  • Good Judgment
  • Initiative
  • Integrity
  • Logical Thinking
  • Multitasking
  • Open Minded
  • Optimism
  • Passion
  • Persuasive
  • Positivity
  • Problem Solving
  • Recruiting
  • Self-confidence
  • Self-direction
  • Self-motivation
  • Strategic Planning
  • Taking Risks

How to Make Your Skills Stand Out

Add Relevant Skills to Your Resume: Take a look at the job advertisements within your field as well to see which leadership skills are mentioned again and again. This type of thinking will help you know the skills you should emphasize in your resume. 

Highlight Skills in Your Cover Letter: It can be helpful to elaborate on a couple of key leadership skills listed on your resume in your cover letter. You can also list a project or two where you successfully incorporated leadership skills.

Use Skill Words in Your Job Interview: Frequently, interviews are places for you to share scenarios from your work past when you exhibited leadership skills during challenging circumstances.