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Top 20 skills employers look for in a Team Leader

Wanted: Team Leaders with outstanding motivation skills.

No business acumen required. has analysed around 3,800 jobs ads for Team Leader positions in the UK, with the goal of mapping out the key skills and competencies requested by those recruiting for this position. Though no one skill stands out as "the" competency that any Team Leader absolutely needs to have, motivation - the ability to motivate themselves and the members of their team - tops the list as the most sought-after skill. The ability to communicate effectively and to train & develop staff also rank among the most important, alongside personal qualities including flexibility, attention to detail and an innovative mindset.

Soft skills are the name of the game

A look at the top 20 list highlights the dominance of soft skills when it comes to competing for a Team Leader position. In fact, only 2 of the 20 most requested skills can be thought of as more technical - problem solving, which came in at number 18 (479 hits), and KPI or financial reporting at number 19 (344 hits). This means that they feature in approximately 12% and 9% of all job ads respectively - less than half as frequently as motivation and communication skills.

The trend continues with only 6.8% of ads requesting IT skills or computer literacy, and an even less significant 4.7% stipulating that candidates be skilled users of Microsoft Office.

People trump business

The results show that there is significant variation in terms of the skills requested, with different recruiters evidently focusing on different combinations of skills. At the same time, the ranking suggests that people-oriented skills - communication, interpersonal skills, people development - take precedence for employers with respect to an aptitude for business and strategy. In fact, possessing business acumen and strategic thinking skills appears to only interest a handful of employers.

It is also interesting to note that, while flexibility is regarded as a key attribute, change management and resilience skills fall much further down the list of must-have skills. This can perhaps be attributed to the fact that change management processes often tend to affect large parts (if not the entirety) of an organisation, and as such are more commonly dealt with by those in senior management positions. This does not explain, however, the equally low position of delegation skills, which occupy a rather negligible spot at number 51 on the list.

Skills & Qualities



1. motivation 992 motivate
2. communication skills 962 good communicator, communicates effectively, good communication
3. flexibility 915 flexible
4. attention to detail 913 accurate, detail oriented
5. training and development 787 developing people, developing your team, development and training
6. coaching 781 coach
7. customer service skills 664 customer care, customer focus, customer centric
8. supervising 613 supervision, supervisory
9. leadership 602
10. written skills 590 writing
11. planning 578
12. innovative 566 innovation, creativity, creative
13. problem solving 479 analytical, problem solver
14. management experience 441 team leader experience, experienced manager, experienced team leader
15. confident 427 confidence
16. interpersonal skills 383 liaise effectively
17. passion 354
18. commitment 352
19. KPI 344 KPI reporting, financial performance
20. initiative 343

Skills & Qualities



50. engagement 113 engage
51. delegation 104 delegate
52. change management 81 implementing change, managing change, leading change
53. can-do attitude 78
54. Internet 70
55. resilience 69 resilient
69. strategic thinking 16
70. business acumen

This research was conducted during the week beginning 18th May 2015 using the website. A sample of 40 job ads were analysed for keywords, after which those keywords were searched for among all job ads to determine frequency. Synonyms were used in cases where similar competencies were requested using several different terms.

For more information and the complete ranking, please contact

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Last updated: 24 Apr 2019

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