25 Leadership Words to Use on Your Resume
By Indeed Editorial Team
Updated August 4, 2022 | Published February 4, 2020
Updated August 4, 2022
Published February 4, 2020
Leaders need many essential qualities to excel in their leadership role and inspire others to follow them. Under a good leader's guidance, employees are encouraged to do their best work and excel in their team roles. If you're applying for a leadership position, it's important to include the right terms on your resume and in your cover letter to demonstrate your capabilities as a leader.
In this article, we explain 25 leadership words you can use on your resume and when discussing your skills and accomplishments.
Cover Letter vs Resume
Formatted like a business letter
Explains your interest in and qualifications for a position with specific examples
May either be optional or required by employer
Reverse-chronological, functional or combination formatting options
Summarizes your relevant experience and achievements
Commonly required when applying for jobs
What are leadership words?
Leadership words are key terms that highlight your ability to guide and inspire others. Saying that you have strong leadership skills is a vague statement, so you should use leadership words to highlight specific strengths, experience and qualities.
Prospective employers want to know what kind of leader you are. The right words can demonstrate that you're motivational, dedicated, innovative or focused. Include these words on your resume and in your cover letter to emphasize the many leadership skills that you possess:
Motivated leaders have a strong desire to work hard and do their best. They don't require outside incentives to do their job. This internal motivation can easily transfer to employees who are motivated by their leader's aspirations.
Related: A Guide to Power Motivation
An employee who has spearheaded a movement led the forward momentum that got the campaign going. Leaders need the strength and skill to start new projects. Use this powerful word to describe how you launch initiatives and forcefully push them onward.
When a project is revitalized, it gets new life. Leaders are often called upon to revitalize a campaign or movement that's lost momentum. Using this word indicates that you can restore enthusiasm and interest in something.
You can feature this leadership word as you're providing an example of how you took on something that was floundering and turned it around to achieve great success. Include statistics and details when possible to demonstrate the scope of your achievements.
Shaping something requires that you thoughtfully mold it into the proper form. You might shape a department to help it become more organized or help shape an employee by providing training and mentoring. On your resume, discuss what you shaped as well as the final state that you achieved.
Something that's optimized is used as efficiently as possible. Optimization helps businesses cut down on waste and maximize profits. As a leader, you should continually look for ways to optimize your operations. Discuss your passion for seeking new ways to optimize processes and products, or give a clear example of your optimization skills with statistical proof of your success.
Leaders who are supportive give strength and encouragement to those around them. You may have supported a colleague who spearheaded a brilliant campaign or offered support to a new employee. Indicating that you've supported people or projects will let others know you don't only delegate from the top down, you also provide assistance from the bottom up.
If you've modernized processes or products, you've helped bring them into the current age. Outdated methods often waste time and resources. While the traditional way of doing things may seem comfortable, modernization is almost always necessary for a business to remain competitive and efficient. Leaders who can modernize their strategies are poised to keep their teams or departments at the forefront of the industry.
If you've advocated for someone or something, you've publicly lent your support to it. Leaders should advocate for their employees to ensure that they get proper wages, a safe working environment and adequate training. Leaders who advocate for their team are usually well-respected and readily followed.
Leaders who pioneer projects are ready to move bravely into unknown territory. They're bold, creative and motivated. If you've pioneered a movement, you were the leader at the front of the action who set the course and provided an example for others to follow.
When you pilot something, you guide or steer it. You can also use this word to discuss plans and projects that you tested carefully before introducing them to a wider audience. Specify how you piloted the campaign and what skills you used to determine the right direction and guide the team or project effectively.
When you've won something, you have been victorious in your endeavors. Good leaders are skilled at setting goals they can achieve. Whether you won a difficult client or won in an industry competition, it's important to note this type of success and use strong language to emphasize the achievement.
Negotiation is a critical skill for leaders. They must negotiate deals with clients, negotiate agreements between departments and even negotiate in instances where employees are at an impasse. Explain how you've successfully managed important negotiations. Include details on what each party wanted and the outcome that you finally reached.
Read more: Negotiation Skills: Definition and Examples
If you have transformed something, you've successfully changed its shape and form. You may have transformed a marketing campaign to achieve greater success or transformed your company's bookkeeping processes to eliminate errors and increase efficiency. Transformative leaders are able to spearhead positive changes.
When propelling a project, you provide the necessary momentum to keep it moving forward. This is a powerful word to use when discussing an initiative that stagnated and needed your encouragement and effort to begin making progress again. Note how you propelled your team onward and specify what the results were when you achieved your mission.
If you prompted action, you were the motivating force that caused it to happen. Leaders need to be influential enough to prompt change. You might prompt upper management to make better use of your team or prompt employees to increase their productivity. Explain what you prompted and how you accomplished it.
Self-motivation is crucial for leaders, as they're responsible not only for maintaining their own forward momentum but for encouraging it in others as well. If you're self-motivated, you don't wait for someone else to give you instructions. You see a need and fill it yourself.
Passionate leaders are eager to succeed and excited about the industry that they're working in. A passionate leader can often inspire those around them to find a similar intensity in their work, creating a highly motivated and engaged team.
If you've trained others, you have used your leadership skills to educate and guide them. Good leaders should know how to train their employees effectively. Specify the types of training activities that you've been involved in on your resume.
Wise strategies offer a plan of action that guide the business or department forward. Leaders should know how to establish and evaluate a good strategy. They must also know how to change strategies when needed. Provide examples of the strategies you've implemented where applicable.
Commitment and dedication are valuable qualities in a leader because they indicate someone who will stay with the project or team through trials and successes. You can demonstrate your commitment on a resume by offering examples of projects that you persisted with even when you faced hardships. The word commitment indicates a leader who perseveres and achieves instead of quitting.
Determination is the firm resolve to find a solution no matter how difficult the problem. Note your determination to achieve company goals, improve processes or excel on projects. Highlighting this quality lets prospective employers know that you can be relied upon to persist through hardships.
Delegation is an essential skill for a leader. If you're skilled at delegation, you know how to find the right person for each task. You don't overwork or overburden yourself trying to handle everything alone. You assess the job and identify the best employee for it. Highlight instances where you demonstrated the ability to delegate well.
Purpose is the reason for moving forward with an endeavor. Leaders can highlight their ability to find purpose in their job and assist employees in doing the same. When you're working with purpose, you're mindful of your actions, ensuring that your time is always given to something that will help you achieve the ultimate goal.
A leader who is ethical has high moral principles. This is important in today's society, where you must be mindful of offending potential customers or clients. It's important to emphasize that you take an ethical approach to the job and maintain impeccable values.
A focused leader doesn't give in to distractions. When you're focused, you don't allow mishaps to divert your attention. You're also able to avoid things that might waste your time and delay your progress. Mention that you're focused and specify the areas that you've most successfully put your focus on.
Related: What Makes a Good Leader? Best Tips & Growth Strategies
Jenn, a career coach, explains what leadership is, essential leadership behaviors, skills and styles, and how to identify the right approach for your workplace.
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