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Top 10 Collaboration Skills Leaders Need Today

Top 10 Collaboration Skills Leaders Need Today

Every team needs a leader, whether it’s accompanied by a formal title or not. That’s because, without it, collaboration and teamwork are left to chance. While some groups naturally work well together, in the cases where it doesn’t, a strong team leader is needed to hold everyone accountable to the mission, provide clarity, monitor progress, and course-correct as needed. 

The bottom line is strong leaders make for strong teams. So, what makes a good team leader? What collaboration skills do you need to ensure the team mission is achieved? We’ve narrowed down the top 10 collaboration skills every leader needs today.


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Top 10 Collaboration Skills for Leaders

  1. Agility
  2. Active Listening
  3. Openness to Change
  4. Delegation
  5. Conflict Resolution
  6. Inclusion
  7. Emotional Intelligence
  8. Communication 
  9. Coaching and Feedback
  10. Goal Setting and Vision Casting

Top 10 Collaboration Skills Every Leader Needs - Niagara Institute (1)



Whether the team you are leading is together for six weeks, six months, or even years, opportunities and roadblocks are going to arise along the way. When unexpected problems arise, mistakes happen, or there are changes in priorities, it’s critical you, as the leader, work with your team quickly to formulate solutions, all the while keeping them productive and engaged. Having the collaboration skill of agility is key to maximizing not only the effectiveness of the team in times of change but also the potential impact its work will have.


Active Listening

How well you actively listen to others is critical to fostering teamwork and collaboration. By actively listening to their team members, leaders show that their input is valued and acknowledged, creating a sense of inclusion, teamwork, and trust. However, in the face of this, one research study on leaders' listening habits found much room for improvement. They uncovered that 3 out of 4 of them fell into the “don’t listen group.”


Openness to Change

In today’s business environment, where change seemingly happens overnight, adaptability and flexibility are critical collaboration skills for team leaders. Leaders who embrace change foster a team culture that encourages innovative thinking, experimentation, and continuous improvement. These leaders who demonstrate a willingness to explore new ideas inspire their team members to do the same. When an entire team behaves in this manner, it enables them to navigate through uncertainty and ambiguity, guiding them toward their shared goals, no matter what is thrown their way.



As a team leader, you need to have the discretion to know what is appropriate to delegate and to whom. After all, being on a team is collaborative work - you can’t, and shouldn’t, do it all yourself. This means you’ll need to learn how to empower your team to work through problems without your intervention, present solutions, and approach you when support or input is required. 

Will they do the job exactly as you would have done it? Probably not. But that’s not what matters in team leadership; what matters is that they fulfill their responsibilities and meet their accountabilities as agreed upon and to the best of their abilities. So long as you are readily available to answer questions, provide feedback, remove roadblocks, and step in before things go wrong, then the rest should be up to them.


Conflict Resolution

Team leaders today require conflict resolution skills as they enable the smooth functioning of teams and foster a harmonious work environment. Differences of opinions, perspectives, and interests are inevitable in any collaborative setting. These skills enable leaders to facilitate open and respectful communication among team members. While conflict is never fun, the Niagara Institute has found that 80% of professionals are fearless in having difficult conversations if they can collaborate on a win-win solution.



Inclusion is a key collaboration skill, as leaders who prioritize inclusion recognize and value the unique strengths, perspectives, and experiences that each team member brings to the table. By creating an inclusive team culture, team leaders encourage active participation and ensure that all voices are heard and respected. In doing so, these leaders foster a sense of psychological safety, where team members feel comfortable sharing their ideas, opinions, and concerns without fear of reprisal or ridicule.


Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is a vital collaboration skill for team leaders, as it allows you to understand, manage, and leverage your team’s emotions. Leaders with high emotional intelligence are skilled at recognizing and empathizing with the emotions and needs of their team members. Moreover, leaders with high emotional intelligence are the ones who can remain calm and composed even in high-pressure scenarios. 

Despite the critical importance of this collaboration skill, it was found in a survey of 155,000 leaders that only 22% of them had strong emotional intelligence, emphasizing the need for organizations to offer training to leaders in this particular area. 



From progress presentations for stakeholders to weekly team meetings, group Zoom calls, email chains, how well everyone collaborates hinges on the strength of your communication skills. In nearly every aspect of the team leader’s job, communication of some form will be required, so honing your skills in this area will contribute to your success and that of your team.


Coaching and Feedback

Going hand-in-hand with strong communication skills, leaders who excel at collaboration are ones who can also coach and provide constructive feedback to their team members. Working with each team member to help them continuously grow and develop in their role, they promote open communication and trust where team members feel supported and valued. In these coaching conversations, leaders have the opportunity to help individuals align individual goals with team objectives, ensuring everyone is collaborating toward reaching the same outcome.


Goal Setting and Vision Casting

First and foremost, goal setting and vision casting are crucial as team members' engagement and productivity benefit from knowing “the why” behind what they’re doing. As the team leader, you need to cast the vision for what becomes possible as a result of achieving the team mission. This gives the project meaning and allows team members to see what you see in terms of its potential impact. Then, you need to set goals, both for the team and its individuals, so everyone is aligned from the beginning. By goal setting and vision casting early, you will be able to unite and align the team throughout the inevitable highs and lows around the big picture and the team’s contribution to it.


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