10 ESSENTIAL Leadership Skills
Being a leader is tough. It’s not a role that suits everyone.
Some leaders are born. They possess innate skills including high levels of determination and resilience and the ability to effectively manage stress.
Typically, the majority of leaders need to work at their craft. Developing these attributes to define an effective business and personal leadership style.
Every leader, however, will need to continue to hone their skills in recognition of the changing needs of their followers. Future generations have an expectation to be coached not managed. There is less automatic respect for titles and roles. They demand leaders earn their respect.
Within this context and the wider business context of fast-changing competitive demands, here are 10 essential leadership skills critical to the future or work.
Employees today expect more from their leaders. They want to perform fulfilling work and feel valued by leaders they can believe in. It is, therefore, vital that leaders know how to inspire confidence, passion and trust in the people they lead.
Authentic leaders do this by behaving with integrity and being consistent. They have high levels of self-awareness i.e. they know who they are, act in accordance with their values, and use a strong moral compass to make rational decisions during challenging times.
2. Exceptional Listener
For a leader to be truly effective they must excel in expressing their ideas and strategies and triumph in listening to those of others.
With the pace of change accelerating rapidly, leaders need to be highly skilled in active listening. They must listen with an open and flexible mind, the intent to understand, and on multiple levels to embrace the emotional undertones of those they lead.
3. Emotionally Agile
In a 24/7 world, the accelerating pace of work, innovation and change is placing greater pressure on the workforce. Successful leaders acknowledge this tension and recognise the importance of developing emotional agility; realising it is the key to well-being and success. Not only for individuals but organisations.
An emotionally agile leader is flexible in their thoughts and feelings ensuring they respond optimally to everyday situations and difficult challenges. They have mastered the power of the space that lies between a stimulus and a response. In doing so they have acquired new empathetic and compassionate behaviours which support the growing expectations today’s employees have for our future leaders.
4. Commitment to a Clear VISION
A clearly articulated vision is a must for all leaders. What sets leaders apart is in their unwavering ability to pursue this vision. Their commitment to making as Tappin and Cave say, ‘a significant difference in business and beyond’.
Leaders who understand their motives, what drives them to be a leader and who persist in the face of resistance and challenges are more likely to capitalise on ways to make their vision a reality. They will seek out resources and opportunities to take their organisations and people further, in the process creating a legacy for others to continue to develop.
5. Adaptable and Flexible
Determination, grit and passion are important leadership qualities. Equally important is not being wedded to your view and approach even as the leader.
An adaptable and flexible leader recognises the importance of keeping abreast of cutting-edge developments in their industry. Realising new research, technological developments and consumer expectations can greatly enhance an organisations sustainability and success.
The ability for leaders to think quickly and flexibly in ever-changing market conditions will enable them to capitalise on the new developments and remain ahead of their competitors.
6. Culturally Intelligent
Leaders are commonly expected to deftly handle themselves in a variety of social settings across all levels. In a globally entrenched society, what is more critical for leaders is the ability to appreciate, understand and leverage cultural differences.
This means leaders need to be concerned with cultural perspectives (e.g. alternative ways to communicate) and what can be learned from these. In doing so leaders will integrate cultural dimensions into their organisations and unleash more human potential to achieve meaningful work objectives. Thereby extending people’s worldviews, bridging cultural gaps, and enabling successful work across cultures. And by extension adding to organisational success.
7. Creative Innovator
Creative leaders are those who recognise that setting a vision requires two things; not only does it provide a realistic direction, with clear priorities, it affords an opportunity to measure progress against the direction of travel.
Secondly, a creative leader recognises their vision needs to be compelling and convincing to those they lead. They understand the importance of storytelling. How it can connect us to our humanity and how effective it is in teaching us in ways we can recall, relate to and remember.
Effective and creative leaders bring their vision alive, helping employees gain an understanding and sense of what it will feel like for them. Providing a deeper and richer sense of what it means for followers will, in turn, help them to envisage the future more clearly.
8. Coach and Relationship Builder
Being an effective relationship builder is ever more important.
Nowadays employees demand greater input and influence in their work. They want to be valued for their contributions. And coached to realise their potential and further enhance their job satisfaction. In short, they want more from their work.
Leaders who acknowledge this change alongside the intensifying war for talent, place greater emphasis on creating a ‘coaching culture’. An effective leader recognises this shift in behaviours. Seeking to adopt a coaching approach as another skill in the leadership toolkit. Why? Because they see the value in empowering others to unlock and harness their potential for the benefit of their careers and organisational health / success.
9. Tough Decision-Maker
It has often been said leaders are at the cross section of multiple stakeholder opinions and expectations. Balancing the needs of many requires high levels of resiliency and an ability to decipher between individual and organisational agendas. Determining what is best for the majority.
Ultimately the leader will be confronted with challenges that require hard decisions, often under pressure. A leader must, therefore, be able to assess all options, discern their complexity and often their inter-connectedness, identify the immediacy of response and judge the ability of its organisation and people to react, often not knowing with any degree of accuracy if their predictions will play out.
To make tough decisions and stand by them requires strong leaders; leaders who act in accordance with their morals and values and who can withstand and navigate the volatility, uncertainty, complexity and adversity of today’s working world.
10. Agile Learner (Self-Awareness & Versatile)
The ability to learn quickly has become ever more important in a technologically driven world. Leaders who are willing to adopt a learning mode, value and seek out lessons from experiences. As active learners, they recognise when new attitudes, behaviours, or skills are needed and accept responsibility for developing them.
Becoming an agile learner enables the leader to learn from mistakes and/or set-backs. Asking insightful questions and openly inviting feedback from trusted and respected sources enriches the learning opportunities, increasing the speed and responsiveness of the leader to future developments within their organisation and industry.
If you are new to leadership, facing a new leadership challenge or simply wish to take a powerful inventory on your leadership style why not check out my Executive Coaching Case Study on Leadership Development:
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