Core Leadership Skills For The Modern Businesses

One of the things coronavirus makes painfully clear is that in troubled times you need suitable leaders to find solutions and pave the right path towards the exit of a crisis. The lack of suitable leadership influences negatively today the global economy today and creates a health and economic crisis on a global level.

Core Leadership Skills For The Modern Businesses

If modern leaders were more prepared for the international effects of a minor, at first, health issues and its impact on an international level and more prone to take decisive actions, the lockdown and the deaths from coronavirus might have been considerably less.

Many analysts have supported that part of the problem was the lack of leadership.

What Leadership Is, Anyway!

Is not easy to define what leadership is, today! The world has changed and so the characteristic of people we used to call leaders.

Leadership is and always was, a difficult concept to put in a box. Part of its appeal seems to be this elusiveness if you like, the multitude of ways you can define a person as a leader and a certain practice as leadership.

A simple, down-to-the-earth definition might be that:

Leadership is the accomplishment of a goal through the direction of human assistants (Understanding Leadership by W.C.H. Prentice in HBR)

This definition though does not reveal a lot while does hide a lot of features many people are associate with the leadership personality.

Another, more revealing definition of leadership by Kevin Kruse states that:

Leadership is a process of social influence which maximizes efforts of others towards achievement of a goal. (What Is Leadership? by Kevin Kruse)

But still, this definition points to a key feature of leadership (i.e. someone maximizes the efforts, …) but not to the whole concept that it may include vision, effective management, personality, character, skills and knowledge, positive influence, good communication capabilities, value-based drive towards a vision, etc.

In any case, defining leadership is a difficult task. What we know though, is that there should be certain traits and features recognized in a person in order to call him or her a leader.

The Cost of Leadership

Let’s take a look at what data suggest, today about leadership and how its lack costs us today!

A recent survey by Gallup purports that:

only 18% of managers demonstrate a high level of talent for managing others – meaning a shocking 82% of managers aren’t very good at leading people. Gallup estimated that this lack of leadership capability costs U.S. corporations up to $550 billion annually. (The Real Crisis In Leadership)

And that’s not all! We know that leadership development influences heavily the development and growth of modern companies. Without the proper engagement and motivation of employees, an organization cannot operate effectively.

As a matter of fact, today, have been recognized that:

  • 77% of organizations report they’re experiencing a leadership gap.

  • 10,000 baby boomers are retiring every single day.

  • 67% of millennials are looking for a new job.

  • Of those who plan to stay, 91% plan to stay in their current job for fewer than 3 years.

  • 63% of Millennials say their leadership skills are not being fully developed.

  • 83% of businesses say it’s important to develop leaders at all levels.

  • Only 5% of businesses have implemented leadership development at all levels.

And, of course, to further support these data, there is a further cluster of data suggesting that:

  1. 10,000 baby boomers are retiring each day

  2. 48% of the workforce will be millennials by 2020

  3. 67% of millennials are looking for a new job

  4. Of those who stay, 91% plan to stay at their current job fewer than 3 years

  5. 84% of organizations anticipate a shortfall of leaders in the next 5 years

  6. 83% of organizations say it is important to develop leaders at all levels

  7. Only 5% have fully implemented development at all levels

  8. 25% of organizations say less than 10% of critical leadership positions have ready and willing successors

  9. 58% of organizations top priority is closing leadership skill gaps

  10. 43% of organizations top priority is closing gaps across all leader levels

  11. Only 18% of organizations say their leaders are “very effective” at meeting business goals

  12. But only 19% of organizations say they are “very effective” at developing leaders

  13. The bottom line is that more money is spent on leadership development than any other area of corporate training, yet 71% of organizations do not feel their leaders are able to lead their organization into the future.

All these figures suggest that today’s leadership and leadership skills are important factors to the growth of a company and should be further and actively pursued!

But, what are the core leadership skills, modern organizations and leaders need to grow today?

Core Leadership Skills

Leadership is not a status. It is an actionable mindset for everyone to use to improve his/her current professional and personal life. Moreover it is a valuable asset to help you achieve your life’s goals.

Therefore the core leadership skills are not just the “exotic ones” related to the “few and privileged ones” (i.e. the ones depend on difficult defined traits like charisma, character, personality, etc.) but predominantly are the ones that can help anyone to chase his or her dream on equal terms.

The most important ones are the ones that can be pursued after and developed by everyone in pursuing a better career.

Among the predominant ones, you can include the following ones!

Ability to Mentor & Teach

One of the core leadership skills for today’s leader is the ability to mentor and to teach effectively! This is an essential skill because it permits the leader to be able to prepare new leaders who can continue his/her work.

Mentorship and training of new people are of the essence in a world that changes rapidly and needs a constant flow of positive guidance and feedback that a leader can provide via his/her teaching and his/her thought leadership.

Legacy is the main thing at stake here, and a good leader should always be able to manage the present status of what he/she is doing as well as the future of his/her vision.

Empathy

Empathy is one of those vague management terms, used today, aiming at providing a communication shorthand towards a cluster of internal abilities and emotionally stated aiming at understanding how someone feels.

In strict terms, empathy is:

the capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing from within their frame of reference, that is, the capacity to place oneself in another’s position. Definitions of empathy encompass a broad range of emotional states.

In the case of a leader or a company, having empathy and using it to understand someone is an important skill and feature because enables someone to understand better the people around him and motivate them more effectively in the framework of a common cause.

Excellent Communication Skills

A good leader is not just someone who has his/her way of communicating his/her ideas and visions but also one who knows how to listen and incorporate the new ideas in his/her course of action.

To do so, with an impact he/she needs to know how to communicate and make an impact. Excellent communication is one of the constant key traits we recognized as a leader. With these skills developed and tested in various situations, a good leader can make a huge difference!

Grit

One of the most important features for a leader is his/her grit! Grit is a difficult defined term that usually can be interpreted as a mental toughness in the long-run.

In psychology:

“grit is a positive, non-cognitive trait based on an individual’s perseverance of effort combined with the passion for a particular long-term goal or end state (a powerful motivation to achieve an objective)”. (Wikipedia)

It is one of the main characteristics of a personality that signifies the existence of a vision and the long-term commitment of the person to the implementation of a specific objective or a goal. That’s why it is so important today, where the focus in business is shifting frequently along with the emerging of the various trends and the business loyalties depend mostly on the current momentum!

Management Skills

A major advantage for a modern leader is the effective planning of a feasible course of action, and the selection of the right implementation strategies as well as a coherent management of people, of resources, of change, and of the challenges may appear towards the implementation of a vision.

In this area, an effective leader is not just an able manager. It is the person who can make the right decisions in order to motivate the people and channel the available assets towards their best usage.

Persistence

Persistence is also a key feature of a good leader because signifies his/her long-term commitments to certain outcomes.

It:

requires determination and a mindset that — no matter what happens — you will stick to your principles and goals (Leadership and persistence)

That’s why it is so important today. In a world that offers a lot of opportunities and a flow of information to remain true to yourself and your goals, it is a challenge.

It is so more for the people they have assumed this role or operate from a leadership position to demonstrate their loyalty to their chosen strategies of implementation and to their vision.

Persuasion & Influence

Persuasion and influence are core skills to someone who seeks to influence, promote, delegating, and make a difference in the world today.

These are basic skills of a modern manager or entrepreneur to empower and motivate his/her team, but for a leader, these are crucial ones. A leader cannot operate alone, nor can implement his/her vision without the aid of other people.

That’s why it is important to recruit more people to his/her cause and make good usage of their abilities.

Self Awareness & Self-Determination

To have a vision and understand your influence and impact on your environment while you know that everything’s connected today.

It is important for a leader to see the “whole picture” and to make good decisions based on his/her vision and the current conditions might negatively influence this course of action (for him/her and his/her followers alike!)

Strategic Thinking Skills

To have the ability to form a coherent plausible idea you want to materialize or a vision of where you want to be and find the right ways to make it a reality.

Strategic thinking is one of those rare qualities a leader should have in order to see the large picture, communicate it effectively to the people interested in it and manage the resources needed to start working on making it happen.

It is not easy most of the time, but it is essential.

Systems’ Thinking

Systems theory (the whole is different from its internal parts) and fuzzy logic (that there is not just 0 and 1 but various and many values in between) are two of the most important approaches of the 20th century.

Both theories sponsored new and innovative ways of understanding better and with more clarity the complex systems and the situations around us.

Tech Savviness

It is important for modern leaders to have a better understanding and knowledge about modern technology and the “mechanics” of communications.

Social media, knowledge transfer, modern online training, technology consulting, etc. are all either technology-depended or technology-influenced today and for that reason, it is important for a leader to have a better understanding of the tools he/she used to convey his/her messages.

Trust, Consistency & Integrity

From the time of Templar Knights and the rise of the modern bank system, one of the major ingredients of an effective and impactful procedure was trust, consistency, and integrity.

Trust is what a modern leader needs in order to motivate and drive people and resources towards a cause; consistency is a trait every leader should have in order to inspire confidence in his/her decisions and actions and a common base of reference for the people look up to him/her; integrity is what he/she needs in order to make people trust him/her.

Integrity, consistency, and trust are built bit-by-bit, day-by-day from the leader by supporting and embodying in his/her action the same set of values he or she supports while making transparent to other people why he/she doing what he/she does and how.

When you follow the premises of value-driven leadership it makes it so much easier to connect with people and communicate in better terms with them.

In Conclusion

It is not easy to define the core leadership skills needed today to our new economic system, but we are able to say that there are some that definitely needed more than others.

A leader is a lot of things (and should be) besides a forward-thinking strategic engine who drives his/her follower towards the fulfillment of a vision. He/she is, among other things, a thought leader, an influencer, a master communicator, and a person who seeks to fulfill an alternate, better, version of the present situation.

He/she should be more human, to listen more and talk less, to communicate more effectively and manage with empathy and results. He/she should know more about technology and systems and understand better the connections and influence that his/her actions can bring to his/her “business ecosystem”.

More, though, he/she should be a balanced person with a strong vision to drive him/her towards a better version of today’s reality for him/her and the people around him/her.

In short, a leader has nothing to do with a position in a company or an organization or just with influence. Leadership is a mindset aiming at growth and achieving results in a new way while you are convincing people for the integrity and validity of your cause! It is a personal mindset aiming at autonomy and self-fulfillment while cultivating other positive behaviors and action plans towards the achievement of a common objective.

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    e-Business | e-Learning Consultant

    Takis Athanassiou is an IT Consultant, Blogger, Trainer & Writer, active in the areas of leadership, business consulting, e-Learning and social media. He aims at the development of people, business and assets! You can check out his blog, add him in Google+ and follow him on Twitter.

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