Want to know how to improve your skills as a leader? Your waiter may have the answer. And, he’ll tell you the same thing as your hairstylist, who will tell you the same thing as your electrician. You need to pay attention to people.

We have a lot to learn from the Service Industry when it comes to leadership because the way to make an impact on others comes from listening and engaging in a way that makes them want to come back for more. In the service industry, this ability is often recognized by tipping generously or having recurring customers.

Being able to understand people is at the very heart of becoming a successful leader. If you want to communicate better with people, you need to know how to reach them. And, in order to reach them, you need to know how to meet their needs.

The good news is that if you’re wondering how you can improve your leadership skills, you don’t need to switch jobs. But, you do need to be more conscious of the people around you and practice picking up on information and clues that will help you develop your perception muscles.

Being a strong leader depends on perception vs. projection.

In other words, are you pulling thoughts from other people or are you pushing thoughts onto them?

How you handle requests and situations affect how you grow through management roles, as a service provider, and as an entrepreneur.

These are 5 key skills that will make you a better leader:

  1. Listening Skills

This skill is all about gathering information and collecting your data. Take the time to find out what the people you serve and the people whom you work with are looking for. In doing so, you may find that they have specific requests. Or, you may find their needs to be simple. But, in doing so, you’ll be able to find out if there common trends throughout these requests. And, that is what you’re looking for! By doing your research, you’ll be pinpoint their needs so that you can put systems in place to meet them. Listening to what others want and being able to produce it just right, shows that you care. People want to be heard. They want to feel like they are more than a number and that they have value. As a leader, remember that you’re not serving yourself. You’re serving others.

  1. Analysis Skills

Being able to connect the dots between what people are looking for based on the information you’re gathering will set you apart as a leader. For example, if one person expresses a certain interest, fits within a particular demographic, and asks a question regarding a category of products, you can predict the next step for your potential customer or combine the information you’ve gathered in order to make a recommendation. To take it a step further, as a leader, you can take this information, find out what matters most to this person, and communicate in a way that’s most relevant. Evaluating information in order to make accurate predictions will enable you to find the best way to connect with others and find common ground, not to mention save you time and money.

  1. Engagement Skills

Once you’re able to relate to your audience and find the best ways to connect, you can develop relationships where people enthusiastically want to hear what you have to say, keep coming back for more, and share their excitement with others. To do this, you’ll need to ask questions, describe experiences of your own, demonstrate understanding, and show sincerity. People are drawn to charismatic leaders who show authenticity through their messaging and vision, all while taking interest in those they serve and support. By creating alignment through what others want and what you’re able to provide, you can show that you’re a good fit and people will respond because they feel comfortable – you “get” them and they “get” you. This type of bonding creates a reciprocal response.

  1. Simplification Skills

Want someone to pay attention? The best way to hold someone’s attention is by staying simple. Too much information all at once can result in getting lost and not being able to retain everything that’s said. It’s hard to stay focused if you’re taken in multiple directions. Know your talking points beforehand and make sure your messaging is appealing for whom you’re speaking with. A well articulated, organized, and relevant message will help others best understand what you’re trying to share.

  1. Project Management Skills

Managing tasks helps you perform better as a leader. If you understand timing and the order of tasks, you’re able to organize and delegate and you guide others towards a goal. It’s important to make every effort to prevent misunderstanding and confusion. By being able to manage tasks well, you can keep track of project components and ensure that responsibilities are met. This skill is much needed because it smoothes out processes and creates a logical flow. If there is uncertainty about what to do next, people won’t take action. And, with a strong sense of clarity, people feel confident following your lead. So, if you’re offering options or directions, keep in mind how you structure your steps. Providing a clear call-to-action makes it so much easier for people to know what to do next.

By paying attention to people and developing insightful connections based on interactions and reactions, you’ll be able to bridge gaps, strengthen your relationships and become a better leader.