In my experience soft-skills are the \u201csecret sauce\u201d to leadership. However, when I talk to leaders in companies around the nation, those soft skills are often overlooked when it comes to preparing emerging leaders for success. If these skills are the secret sauce, why are they so often neglected?\nThe misconception is that these skills are inherent, and not learned. While I agree some leaders have an aptitude for understanding people, building relationships and managing emotions, the truth is that like any skill, these talents can be built, and improved upon.\nHere are six things that make great leaders. If you can be effective in these, then your reputation will skyrocket.\n1. Be an ally\nWe\u2019ve all experienced the best and worst of bosses. Some people are so much fun to work with that you don\u2019t want to stop. And others? Well...you wished that they worked somewhere else. It\u2019s great to be memorable, as long as it\u2019s for the right reasons. The question is, which sort of leader are you?\nAn ally is someone who has your back, not just on the good days, but on the tough days too. They are the people who cheer you on when things are going well, and provide the tough-love and candid feedback when needed. Your success is dependent on those who work with and for you, and if you want to create a culture of candor and debate, collaboration and teamwork then the time to take action is now.\nRemember that your people are not the enemy. If you treat them as your allies, then you\u2019ll have won them over.\n2. Give plenty of feedback\nThe old adage \u201cno news is good news\u201d doesn\u2019t cut it in a business environment. In the absence of feedback most of us will fill in the blanks and create stories as to how we are perceived, and whether we are valued. Unfortunately these stories tend to assume the worst, to be the bad news, and your employees will be looking for examples of your behavior that support their story \u2013 the case for the prosecution.\n\n\u201cHe didn\u2019t say \u2018hello\u2019 this morning \u2013 I knew he didn\u2019t like me\u201d\n\u201cShe asked everyone else for their input into this project except me \u2013 She doesn\u2019t value my opinion\u201d\n\nIf you are of the opinion that others should act like grown-ups and recognize that if there\u2019s a problem, then they can be sure that someone above them will let them know. That\u2019s not leadership. That\u2019s abdication.\nPart of your responsibility as a leader is to let people know when they\u2019re doing their jobs well. Sharing the good news and not just the bad news on a consistent basis. If you don\u2019t tell them, then they\u2019ll begin to wonder if they are. If they\u2019re wondering, then it means that they\u2019re not focusing on doing what\u2019s right.\n3. Make time for people\nLeadership does not mean creating a vision for the company and relaying it to the board or your senior managers, all the while hiding in your lofty tower. People want to see your face, and to make eye contact with you. They want you to talk to them; to take an interest in them, in their job, and in their workplace.\n\nOne \u2013to-one meetings with your direct reports are an important way of building a relationship that ensures they are aligned in the goals that need to be delivered and that you understand their personal goals and aspirations.\nTown Hall Meetings (where you and your leadership team meet with your broader team) can communicate what\u2019s happening within your function and the business as a whole. Avoid turning these into a one-way monologue, encourage questions and dialogue \u2013 and if you aren\u2019t sure how call me!\nSkip Level Meetings \u2013 this is where you meet with a few people further down into your organization. Consider them \u2018fire side conversations', informal opportunities for your more junior employees to meet and get to know you and for you to take a pulse on the culture and organization health. These are not about catching out your direct reports or your people managers.\n\nAs you are walking through the office pause by other\u2019s desks and say \u2018hi\u2019, ask them what they are working on, find out their plans for the weekend. It doesn\u2019t have to become a huge song and dance routine, in fact avoid making it into a ritual, be the genuine you, your team will appreciate it.\n4.\u00a0Support others, especially when they make mistakes\nHow you support others when they make mistakes (and when you do, too) will have a huge impact on the candor and accountability within your team. Unless the mistake was deliberate or came from a devil-may-care attitude, you need to support the person who made it. He or she will feel badly enough about it without you yelling, disciplining or firing them.\nFew people make mistakes on purpose. Investing the time so you can understand \u2013 and help them understand \u2013 how the mistake happened and, just as importantly, how it will be avoided going forward, is key. And remember, others will be watching. They will take note of how you respond, and whether you handle it well or badly, they will remember your example.\n5. Set the right example\nMany people are proud of the fact that they are leading by example. But the truth of the matter is that hardly anyone will emulate an example that they disagree with. In fact, all that will do is make them uncomfortable.\nA good example is work\/life balance. It\u2019s essential that people work a sensible number of hours. If you\u2019re putting in 50, 60 hours a week or more, then there will be people in your organization who will feel that they should, too. But that will create inner turmoil, because they will be torn between what they perceive as your expectations for them and the responsibilities and, indeed, desires they feel towards their families, and even their personal health.\nDon\u2019t force your employees to make a choice. Show them that work\/life balance is so important that you practice it as well.\n6. Invest in your own leadership development\nOne of the problems with personal and professional development is that those at the top have the habit of exempting themselves from the training they think that everyone else should get. They plead that they are too busy, too important, or already know how to do it.\nI\u2019ve lost count of the middle managers who bemoan that \u201cthey\u201d (the bosses) should be in the class, and in many cases I have to agree with them. Learning is a lifelong commitment and while you are successful because of your knowledge, skills and ability, you are also successful despite your blindspots, bad habits and weaknesses.\nPay attention to what is helping you succeed and what might be holding you back, not just for your current role, but for your future aspirations.\nThe time to hone your capabilities is today, before you need to apply them. What\u2019s good for the goose is also good for the gander. Make sure that you attend the same training that you expect others to go to. It\u2019s part of setting the right example and you may surprise yourself and learn something!\nWhat makes for great leadership?\nOver to you \u2013 what would you add to this list of \u2018great leadership\u2019? and more to the point, how are you doing in demonstrating them consistently?