8 Key Leadership Skills to Include on Your CV (2023)

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The complete guide to the most important leadership skills for your CV, which includes leadership CV examples and advice on how to show leadership skills on your CV.

8 Key Leadership Skills to Include on Your CV (1)

Leadership is one of the most important skills to showcase on your CV or resume. Effective leaders improve efficiency, customer satisfaction and overall business performance.

But how do you show that you’re a good leader on your CV or resume?

In this guide, we’ll show you exactly how to articulate your leadership skills on your CV or resume. We’ll also tell you which leadership skills are the most important, as well as which words to use to ensure you come across as a leader that get things done.

In this guide, we use Sir Alex Ferguson as a case study, referring to his leadership skills and his comments about leadership.

View our guide on 10 key leadership skills and how to develop them.

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Leadership Skills

Hiring managers and recruiters look out for leadership skills on CVs and resumes. These skills, which are all part of leadership, are the most important leadership skills to show on your CV or resume.

1. Communication

You can’t be a great leader if you’re not an effective communicator. Strong communication enables organisations to achieve goals and operate more efficiently.

The importance of strong communication was emphasised by Sir Alex Ferguson: ‘At Harvard, one of the students asked me a question: what would you have liked to have known 30 years ago that you know now. It was definitely communication.’

He continued: ‘The other aspect of communication is recognition of staff, recognising the people who work for you. Always say good morning, get to know them. The groundsman, the girls in the laundry, the girls in the tearoom, administration.’

Communicating effectively with the wider team at Manchester United, not just his players, clearly played a crucial role in his success.

Good communication doesn’t necessarily involve complex board-level negotiations. Sir Alex Ferguson also once stated that the two most powerful words he could use a leader were "well done". This simple statement that he communicated to his players on a regular basis helped to maintain high standards during his 26-year tenure at Manchester United.

2. Organisation

Leading an organisation or team involves juggling multiple tasks or business areas simultaneously. As such, leaders must be highly adept organisers.

Organisation consists of time management, prioritisation, planning and attention-to-detail. When writing your CV or resume, draw attention to your successes that have come about as a result of these skills.

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Here is an example of a candidate’s achievement that showcases her organisation skills:

"Implemented new software, which enabled better time management and streamlined the reporting process".

3. Problem Solving

All leaders encounter problems. Even Sir Alex Ferguson was no stranger to problems.

Finding oneself up against problems comes with the territory for leaders. What separates good leaders and great leaders is how they respond to problems. Effective problem-solving requires analytical acumen, creativity, adaptability and communication.

When writing about problems that you have solved on your CV or resume, the best approach is to follow our formula: result, action taken, problem.

Let’s break this down: start by describing the result of your action, followed by the action you took. Then outline the problem.

Here is an example:

"Cut high numbers of non-compliance by introducing workshops for staff members after identifying that 34% of staff members were not complying with regulations".

4. Coaching & Mentoring

A key aspect of leadership is coaching and mentoring – an ability to get the best out of staff and develop new starters.

The skills that make up coaching and mentoring include motivational qualities, team building, adaptability and organisation.

How can you show coaching and mentoring skills on your CV or resume?

Take a look at the CV example in this guide. Notice how, in the example CV, Sir Alex Ferguson draws attention to the talented team members that he trained and nurtured. Of course, you may not have coached famous superstars, but touch on the personnel that you did coach and you will stand out as a candidate who is experienced at coaching and mentoring.

Here is an example:

“Coached and mentored the next generation of leaders within the organisation, many of whom were educated to PhD level”.

5. Delegation

Good delegation skills ensure that those involved in projects know what is expected of them. It also improves efficiency and enables projects to run more smoothly.

Delegation is much more complex than giving orders. It’s about identifying what you want to achieve from tasks and allocating tasks in line with team member’s strengths and weaknesses.

To be successful at delegation, leaders must possess proficiency in planning, organisation and scheduling.

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6. Relationship Building

Building and maintaining strong relationships is one of the most important aspects of leadership. Leaders are judged on the results that team members deliver. As such, leader’s relationships with team members have a big impact on how they perform.

Some of the most effective methods of building relationships include:

- Actively listening to staff

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- Praising staff members when appropriate

- Understanding colleague’s emotions

- Developing a culture of togetherness

- Telling staff what is expected of them

As mentioned earlier in this guide, Sir Alex Ferguson touched on his commitment to connecting with all members of Manchester United, from Board members to the kitchen staff. This created a sense of family, which was key to Sir Alex’s success.

7. Motivation

Motivation is arguably the most important leadership skill. It enables colleagues to achieve their goals, which can translate into achieving organisation goals. Unmotivated workforces will be inefficient and they will fail to meet expectations.

Understanding team members on an individual basis is one of the keys to motivation. As an example, some staff members react very negatively to heavy criticism; others use it as a means to improve their performance.

How can you show your motivation skills on your CV or resume?

One of the most effective ways of showing your motivation skills on your CV or resume is highlighting steps you have taken to motivate staff.

Here is an example:

"Developed team bonding sessions to promote team building and get to know staff members".

8. Adaptability

Adaptability is an innate human skill that we have had to rely on over time. While humans have mastered adaptability collectively, leaders must demonstrate adaptability in the business world. This enables them to explore alternative strategies and experiment with new ideas. In the long term, they must be able to adapt to changing environments in their sphere.

For example, the leadership techniques employed by Sir Alex Ferguson when he took the reins at Manchester United in 1986 were different to the leaderships techniques he employed in his latter years at the club. This is because the landscape had changed.

One of the keys to Sir Alex’s success was his ability to continuously adapt. Whether it be overcoming the loss of key players or adapting to changing football landscapes, Sir Alex Ferguson always found a way to come out on top.

How can you show adaptability on your CV or resume?

The best way to showcase your adaptability on your CV or resume is to highlight times that you altered your strategy in order to ensure success.

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Results, Results, Results

The most effective leaders are the ones that deliver results. Of course, leaders use different leadership styles, but the end goal is always results.

Results are what separate good leaders and great leaders.

With this in mind, the best and easiest way to demonstrate your leadership skills on your CV or resume is to showcase your results and accomplishments that came about as a result of your leadership.

Here is an example:

"Positioned the company as a global leader in the sale of wool socks by executing robust sales strategies and overhauling internal processes."

The above example articulates the individual’s leadership skills by showing results. When writing your own CV or resume, show how you have delivered results in order to ensure you come across as a great leader.

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Leadership CV Example

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This example CV shows what Sir Alex Ferguson’s CV might look like.

Note that Sir Alex doesn’t directly say ‘I have excellent leadership skills’. He doesn’t need to state this. Instead, he simply shows the successes that came about as a result of his leadership.

This is the approach you should take when writing your own CV or resume.

One glance at Sir Alex Ferguson’s CV is enough to see that he is an exceptional leader. As mentioned previously, results are the most effective ways of demonstrating leadership. When results are highlighted in this way, you don’t even need to mention the word leadership.

Further Tips To Ensure Your CV or Resume Screams "Leader"

Quantify Your Achievements

A great way to ensure your leadership skills shine is quantifying achievements with numbers, data and statistics. By quantifying your results, you will provide hiring managers and recruiters with tangible evidence of your successes. You will also provide more insight into your achievements.

Here is an example of a quantified leadership achievement:

"Cut staff absences by 43% by implementing an employee satisfaction programme".

Notice in this example how the use of numbers makes the accomplishment stand out. Use the same approach when writing about your own achievements.

Show, Don't Tell

When conveying your leadership skills on your CV or resume, it’s vital to follow this simple formula: show, don’t tell.

What does this mean?

‘Show, don’t tell’ is as simple as it sounds. If you show your accomplishments by providing specific examples, rather than telling the reader about them, you will make a much stronger impression and your leadership skills will shine.

Here is an example of an achievement that uses the ‘tell’ approach:

"I was successful at increasing efficiency".

Here is an example of an achievement that uses the ‘show’ approach:

"I Increased efficiency by 18% by eliminating redundant processes and developing workshops for staff members".

Notice that stark difference between these two achievements. The second achievement shows how the candidate was successful, while the first one simply provides a vague statement that may or may not be considered as true.

Take a look at the CV example in this guide. Notice that the CV doesn’t state that Sir Alex Ferguson is a good leader. It doesn’t need to. Instead, it shows his results. His results prove his leadership qualities beyond any doubt. Stating that he is a good leader would be redundant.

When it comes to writing about your achievements that are related to leadership, ensure to show how you achieved success. This way, you’ll come across as a strong leader who gets results.

When writing about your duties and accomplishments, your choice of verb is very important. Powerful verbs can make you come across a good leader. These include:

Verbs Associated with Effective Leadership









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Verbs Associated with People Management








Verbs Associated with Business Acumen






More Leadership CV Examples

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Are some leadership skills inherent? Are leaders born or made? View our guide on the topic to learn more.

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We hope you found this leadership guide helpful. For further advice on CV writing, check out our in-depth guide on how to write a CV. Or view our 27 CV templates, which you can get now.

If you would like to equip yourself with a powerful CV, consider using our Premium CV service.

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