Essential Skills Every Leader Must Have

July 22, 2023

scrabbled scrabble tiles with words on them

Photo by Nick Fewings

The Importance of Good Governance

In the world of business, good governance is not just a nice-to-have; it’s a necessity. It’s the foundation upon which successful, sustainable organizations are built. But what exactly is good governance, and why is it so crucial? In this article, we’ll delve into these questions and more, providing you with the essential skills every leader must have to unlock the power of good governance.

Good governance refers to the processes, structures, and organizational traditions that determine a company’s direction, effectiveness, supervision, and accountability. It’s about ensuring that a company is run in a responsible, transparent, and accountable manner, with a focus on long-term success.

Why Good Governance Matters

Good governance is vital for many reasons. It helps companies attract investment, protect the rights of shareholders, and reduce the risk of scandals and corporate fraud. It also promotes company growth and sustainability, which can lead to increased profitability.

Moreover, good governance can enhance a company’s reputation. In today’s socially conscious business environment, companies are expected to go beyond making a profit. They are expected to demonstrate corporate social responsibility, including respect for the community and environment. Good governance helps companies meet these expectations, thereby improving their public image and standing in the community.

Essential Skills for Good Governance

So, what skills are needed to achieve good governance? Here are some key ones every leader should possess:

  1. Strategic Thinking: Leaders need to be able to set the strategic direction of the company, taking into account its mission, vision, and long-term goals.

  2. Decision-Making: Good governance requires leaders to make tough decisions, often in complex and uncertain situations. They need to be able to analyze information, consider risks, and make decisions that are in the best interest of the company.

  3. Ethical Leadership: Leaders should set the tone for ethical behavior in the company. They should act with integrity, honesty, and transparency, and hold themselves and others accountable for their actions.

  4. Communication: Good governance requires clear and effective communication. Leaders should be able to communicate the company’s goals, strategies, and performance to various stakeholders, including employees, shareholders, and the public.

  5. Risk Management: Leaders should understand the risks facing the company and ensure that appropriate risk management strategies are in place.

  6. Financial Literacy: Leaders should have a good understanding of financial reports, budgeting, and financial performance indicators.

  7. Stakeholder Engagement: Leaders should be able to engage with various stakeholders, understand their concerns and expectations, and build strong relationships with them.

In the next part of this article, we’ll explore how you can develop these skills and implement good governance practices in your organization. Stay tuned!

Developing Good Governance Skills

Developing good governance skills is not something that happens overnight. It requires ongoing learning, practice, and reflection. Here are some strategies to help you develop these skills:

Education and Training: There are many courses and training programs available that can help you develop your governance skills. These programs typically cover topics such as strategic planning, risk management, financial literacy, ethical leadership, and stakeholder engagement. Some programs also offer certification, which can enhance your credibility as a leader.

Mentorship and Coaching: Learning from someone who has experience in governance can be incredibly valuable. A mentor or coach can provide you with advice, feedback, and insights that you might not get elsewhere. They can also help you navigate the challenges and complexities of governance.

Experience: There’s no substitute for hands-on experience. Serving on a board, committee, or task force can provide you with practical experience in governance. It can also give you an opportunity to apply and refine your skills.

Self-Study: There are many resources available that can help you learn about governance. Books, articles, podcasts, and online resources can provide you with a wealth of information and insights. Some resources to consider include the Corporate Governance Principles and Recommendations by the ASX Corporate Governance Council, and the OECD Principles of Corporate Governance.

Networking: Joining a professional association or networking group can provide you with opportunities to learn from others, share your experiences, and get feedback on your ideas. It can also help you stay up-to-date with the latest trends and developments in governance.

In the next part of this article, we’ll look at how you can implement good governance practices in your organization. Stay tuned!

Implementing Good Governance Practices

Implementing good governance practices in your organization can be a complex and challenging process. It requires a clear understanding of governance principles, a commitment to ethical behavior, and the ability to lead and manage change. Here are some steps you can take to implement good governance practices in your organization:

Develop a Governance Framework: A governance framework is a set of rules, practices, and processes that guide how an organization is run. It covers areas such as board structure, roles and responsibilities, decision-making processes, risk management, and accountability. Developing a governance framework can help ensure that governance practices are consistent, transparent, and aligned with the organization’s goals.

Establish a Code of Conduct: A code of conduct sets out the standards of behavior expected of directors, executives, and employees. It should cover areas such as conflicts of interest, confidentiality, respect for others, and compliance with laws and regulations. A code of conduct can help promote ethical behavior and build a culture of integrity.

Promote Transparency: Transparency is a key principle of good governance. It involves sharing information openly and honestly, and being accountable for your actions. You can promote transparency by communicating regularly with stakeholders, disclosing relevant information in a timely manner, and being open to scrutiny.

Engage with Stakeholders: Stakeholders, including employees, customers, shareholders, and the community, have a vested interest in your organization. Engaging with stakeholders can help you understand their concerns and expectations, build trust, and make better decisions.

Monitor and Evaluate Governance Practices: Good governance is not a one-time event, but an ongoing process. Regularly monitoring and evaluating

your governance practices can help you identify areas for improvement, make necessary adjustments, and ensure that your practices remain effective and relevant.

The Role of Leaders in Good Governance

Leaders play a crucial role in promoting and implementing good governance. They set the tone for the organization, make key decisions, and guide the organization towards its goals. Here are some ways leaders can promote good governance:

Lead by Example: Leaders should demonstrate the values and behaviors they expect from others. This includes acting with integrity, being transparent, and taking responsibility for their actions.

Set Clear Expectations: Leaders should clearly communicate the organization’s goals, values, and expectations. This includes setting performance standards, defining roles and responsibilities, and establishing rules and procedures.

Promote a Culture of Ethics and Integrity: Leaders should promote a culture where ethics and integrity are valued and rewarded. This includes encouraging ethical behavior, dealing with unethical behavior promptly and fairly, and providing training on ethics and integrity.

Encourage Participation and Collaboration: Good governance involves input and participation from various stakeholders. Leaders should encourage open communication, collaboration, and participation in decision-making processes.

Ensure Accountability: Leaders should be accountable for their actions and decisions. This includes being open to feedback, admitting mistakes, and taking corrective action when necessary.


Good governance is essential for the success and sustainability of any organization. It requires a clear understanding of governance principles, a commitment to ethical behavior, and strong leadership. By developing your governance skills and implementing good governance practices, you can help your organization achieve its goals, meet stakeholder expectations, and enhance its reputation.

Related articles

Join our Affiliate Program​

Earn up to 45% commission on SDCourses