Leadership Skills for the Future: 5 Key Competencies to Develop Now
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Leadership is not a static thing. Great leaders have to adapt quickly to ongoing or sudden shifts, while providing a compelling vision for the future and bringing out the best in their people. Think about the last decade--so many things have shifted, and those forces will continue to push us for the next ten years and beyond:
- Technology has driven massive shifts in how work gets done in every sector. Not only were entire markets disrupted by innovative startups but customers now expect mobile access for nearly every aspect of their personal and professional lives.
- New types of jobs and roles were created at breakneck speed, and we’re poised for massive shifts as artificial intelligence and robots move into every sector.
- Generational shifts brought new expectations from Millennials that changed the conversation about what great workplace cultures look like.
- And Millennials change jobs every 3-4 years, impacting recruiting, hiring, and training processes.
- Generation Z, also known as iGen, is poised to make equally large shifts as they enter the workforce.
- Organizations shifted from formal hierarchies to networks of teams and are now shifting to a greater focus on being purpose-driven. In fact, our entire economy is moving from being based on information to being grounded in purpose.
- Companies also became increasingly global and multinational, bringing benefits and challenges. People now need to engage in fast-paced and collaborative work with teammates whom they will never meet in person. Tomorrow’s workers need to be exceptionally adept at respectfully navigating different regions, languages and cultures.
- Geo-political strife has touched nearly every region of our now connected world, impacting markets, employees, customers, and resources.
- And weather patterns have shifted, bringing more intense storms, droughts, fires, and floods to every continent, directly impacting organizations and their customers or clients.
Adept leaders have to navigate all of that and more. The reality is that as you develop your own leadership skills a key component will be your ability to adapt to the unexpected while still creating a sense of stability.
The good news is that while all these things are shifting, the core of what creates a successful business and what makes a great leader have not. Leading your organization will require you to analyze conditions, make good decisions, and create an environment where people thrive.
Biologically, humans have not changed much in hundreds of years. So by leveraging science, you can have a sound set of strategies that will work with every person, regardless of their age, gender, race, or nationality.
Develop A Leadership Style with Key Competencies, then Flex
Here’s the thing. There is no one great leadership style. Great leadership is always the intersection of the leader, the people they are guiding, and the context they are in together. What might be great leadership in one situation might actually be disastrous in another.
So, developing your leadership style is really about understanding key competencies, and more importantly, how to flex them to bring out the best in the people you lead.
Defined, great leadership is the use of key skills and practices, correctly applied at the right time, to help the organization and its people reach their highest potential. There’s a range of core leadership skills and practices but they fall mainly into four clusters of competencies.
The first is self-awareness, which is knowing yourself, including your strengths and weaknesses, as well as how others perceive you. Consider self-awareness as the foundational skill upon which you’ll build the others.
- For example, what are your strengths you know you bring to any organization?
- And how well do you control your emotions when in a stressful situation?
Next, there’s building relationships, which includes all aspects of working well with peers, superiors, and employees.
- How quickly do you build meaningful rapport with others?
- How good are you at picking up on underlying emotions that may or may not match what people say and do?
- And how do you create an environment or culture that brings out the best in others?
Knowledge of the Business, or Business Acumen.
The third cluster is your knowledge of the business, or business acumen, which includes technical skills and awareness of your department, your division, and your industry.
- This has to do with understanding and navigating the stated and invisible dynamics of power and influence, as well as creating an environment that empowers innovation.
The fourth cluster of competencies is organizational strategy, which includes your ability to create a sense of purpose, set strategic direction, and catalyze change.
- How often do you scan national and global news to look for developing issues that may affect your organization in coming years?
- And do you know how to craft a compelling vision for the future that excites and inspires others?
These four clusters are relevant to every organization, and every leadership role, whether you’re new to leading others or the CEO of a multinational corporation. As you move into higher levels of responsibility, the competencies in each cluster become more sophisticated and nuanced.
All of these competencies rest on the bedrock of your integrity. Your reputation is your most precious asset. You’ll only be as effective as people feel they can trust you. I cannot emphasize this enough. By far and away above any other skill you can cultivate, your priority should be walking your talk.
Tend your reputation carefully because if you are to move into higher levels of leadership, you must become known as a person who is trustworthy, dependable and who acts with integrity.
Announcing Leadership Skills for the Future, A New Online Video Course on LinkedIn Learning
Enjoyed this article? Check out the new online course, Leadership Skills for the Future. The material in this article is a sampling of the learning available in our new course, recently released on LinkedIn Learning. Watch it to help build a flexible and reliable skill set that you can bring to any situation. Complete activities in the course’s exercise files to concrete the learning.