The 9 Best Leadership Skills for Your Resume

A man writes his resume

Your resume is a valuable commodity. It’s something you should certainly invest time in and care for. I am a big fan of packing as much information into your resume as possible. Organizations want and need good leadership, so making sure your leadership skills stand out are essential.

As a general rule, the best leadership skills to list on your resume are teamwork, trustworthiness, problem-solving, communication, planning, adaptability, vision, decisiveness, and creativity. Although there are many other valuable skills which make a good leader, these are among the best which executives look for when they are seeking maximum value in a candidate.

Let’s look at these in-depth and examine why each are important signals to executive decision-makers.

Teamwork (Makes the Dream Work!)

I have worked with brilliant people before who were just downright unpleasant people. No one wanted to work alongside them on projects because they were so difficult. It does not matter how smart someone is, no one wants to work with a bully. Projects don’t get completed and discontent is sewn amongst the team. If you do not have this skill, then none of the rest matter. You can be the most trustworthy, adaptable, creative, decisive, visionary the company has ever had. But if you cannot get along with teammates, then you will actually be a drain on the company. Lead with your ability to be a good teammate!


When asking the question, “what are the best leadership skills to list on my resume?” A close second behind being a good team player is being trustworthy. In our post on how to develop your leadership skills, we go in-depth on why honesty and trustworthiness is important. Organizations make massive decisions based on risk calculations. You have to become the person who is known for being honest in all things. Organizations cannot adequately measure risk or plan for future growth without people being honest, even when the news is bad.

Many people try to hide, obfuscate, or move numbers around in an organization to make their performance appear better on paper. This is always a bad idea, losing strategy, and will bite you in the end.


One of my favorite quotes about leadership is from the former US Secretary of State, Colin Powell who simply said, “Leadership is solving problems. The day soldiers stop bringing you problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help or concluded you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership.”

He said it best and I cannot improve upon that. Company’s want and need problem solvers, not widget makers.

“Leadership is solving problems. The day soldiers stop bringing you problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help or concluded you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership.”

-Colin Powell-
9 Best Leadership Skills for Your Resume
1. Teamwork
2. Trustworthiness
3. Problem-Solving
4. Communication
5. Planning
6. Adaptability
7. Vision
8. Decisiveness
9. Creativity


One of the most difficult challenges organizations face is efficient communication. Notice I didn’t say lack of communication. Sometimes it’s possible for organizations to overcommunicate and for employees to get burdened with notification fatigue. A good leader is judicious in knowing when and how to communicate.

Speak in laymen’s terms to executives about projects to give them a high-level understanding of it, they don’t need the technical details. But speak in technical terms and details to your engineers and programmers when describing success criteria for projects. And most importantly, never let engineers talk to executives (sorry engineers, but you get it).

Efficient communication is an important skill and one in desperately short supply in most organizations.


Speaking of projects, organizations do them all the time on every scale. Everything ranging from 100 dollar projects to 100 million dollar projects and everything in between. The ability to plan effectively is crucially important in successful projects.

The delta between a vision and that vision becoming a reality is a plan. Plans are how you get brilliant ideas into existence. It does not matter if it’s your vision or someone else’s vision. The ability to plan, work that plan, and inspire others to work the plan is excellent leadership, and a rare commodity.


Let me see if you have ever met this kind of person. I am sure you know someone who meets all the criteria above. They’re a good team player, they communicate well, they solve problems, they’re trustworthy, and the are good at making and following plans. But, the moment anything goes wrong they lose their minds. The moment the plan has to change, they break down emotionally. Ever met that person?

Of all the leadership skill you should list on your resume, this one is my favorite. Because the skill of being adaptable is the hallmark of a person who is disciplined, emotionally intelligent, and capable of handling the chaos of the real world.

Charles Darwin once said, “it’s not the strongest or most intelligent species that survive, but the ones most adaptable to change.” Although he was speaking about biology, the point still remains for complex project plans. The point of his statement was that change is constant. Environments and variables are in constant flux. Unexpected issues come up. In fact, if you’re not building failure probability and decision points into your plan, then you’re doing them wrong. Adaptable people expect, and are ready for things to go wrong, and to lead others through those challenges.

“It’s not the strongest or most intelligent species that survive, but the ones most adaptable to change.”

-Charles Darwin-


Earlier I mentioned a plan is what’s required to take a vision into reality. Being a visionary is rare and important. Even if your company is not tasking you with coming up with the next brilliant idea, being a visionary at least let’s you understand and connect to someone else’s vision and lead people towards that vision.

Being able to have vision and understand vision means that you understand purpose. You understand why we are doing what we’re doing every day and how our work is important. Understanding vision and then being able to effectively communicate that (see above), is a priceless leadership skill.


Have you ever heard of “paralysis by analysis?” It’s the phenomenon of being incapable of deciding on a course of action because there are too many options. Being decisive is a vital skill because failing to take action in a timely manner leads to missed deadlines, regardless of the competence of your team.

I have been with older family members at a Costco before who literally stood in an aisle for an hour reading each brand and box of lightbulb because they were not sure which one was best. There is a very good likelihood randomly grabbing any box of bulbs would have yielded the results desired; lighting up a dark room. And yet much time, energy, and resources were wasting on making a choice that, at best, offered marginal improvements over any other bulb.

The corporate equivalent of this phenomenon occurs all the time. The value of a decisive leader is being able to decide which course of action will likely yield the best results, and then pursuing it. Retired Navy Seal and CEO of Epsilon Front business consultants, Jocko Willink calls this mindset “default aggressive.” It means having your mind trained on being aggressive in pursuing the best probable outcome, even if you cannot have all the data (and you can never have all the data).

Decisiveness in terms of the lightbulb problem is understanding the goal is often not acquiring the best light bulb. The goal is acquiring the best light bulb you can, in a reasonable amount of time, while maximizing the efficiency of available resources. Decisiveness is understanding that time is the most precious commodity, and wasting it on choosing an outcome which is only marginally better is poor leadership.


Creativity is bringing an “outside the box” approach to many things and it is such a valuable leadership skill you should include on your resume. Creativity can be applied to all things; problem-solving, vision, planning, training, hiring, deciding on target markets. Creativity can also be applied to things like what metrics businesses should be evaluating and why.

Creativity also synergizes a lot of other creative leadership aspects. It’s the literal sprinkling on top which makes everything better. Imagine having someone who’s a good team player and is creative in their approach about teamwork.

Imagine someone who is a great planner, and brings creativity to bear in creating the plan. Or someone who is adaptable, and creative. When problems arise, you can rest assured this person will come up with a creative direction towards a resolution.

All of these leadership skills are wise to include on your resume. And none are necessarily more important to emphasize than others. Also, it’s not enough to just list them on your resume, you actually have to practice and live them. Make sure these skills are woven into the fabric of your work and professionalism so you can bring them to bear for current or future organization.

Now, get out there and lead!

Erik Murrah

Author, nerd, chess player, artist, business owner, runner, mediocre philosopher, outdoorsman. Creator of the Arise Tribe.

Recent Posts