Essential Leadership Skills

The world is calling for drastically different leadership skills in business. There is a need for greater balance between the interests of the organisation, the interests of employees and the broader community. What is required is a distinctive shift in the values and behaviour of leaders. Business will only transform when their leadership transforms.

In his book Liberating the Corporate Soul Richard Barrett describes a leader as “someone who holds a vision and courageously pursues that vision in such a way that it resonates with the souls of people”. This means it is a vision that resonates with the values that are held deep within its employees and with which they can identify.

So what does a great leader display?

Great leaders are visionaries. They have a long-term vision. They also have the ability to not be side-tracked by immediate problems. Their focus is on keeping a strategic view of their business. They are able to inspire, engage and motivate their employees through a clear and powerful vision.  As a result it becomes a company that attracts strong talent who all want to work there.

The leader of the future thrives on collaborating with others and brings out the best in their people. They see no need to follow a hierarchical approach in achieving results through their teams. They are great at building trust. They are driven by what is best for the business or team as opposed to what is best for them personally. They are quick to admit that they do not have the answers and to consult with others. They are very comfortable to delegate. Collaboration is extended to outside parties where they form strategic alliances that are of mutual benefit.

Building strong, and reliable relationships is a crucial skill for leaders. Trust in relationships becomes non-negotiable to these leaders. They go out of their way to get to know and understand the people with whom they work.

Great leaders are honest and have integrity. They walk their talk and are sincere in their intentions. They are also truthful and willing to confront issues. Through this they set the tone for the way they want others in their company to operate.

Enlightened leaders display high emotional intelligence.  As Jeffrey M Cohn wrote “the future leaders will demonstrate cognitive empathy, the ability to understand what another individual is thinking. Second is emotional empathy, the ability to understand how another person is feeling.” Where many “leaders” in power these days have lost this ability, the enlightened leader will have this as a definite strength. An effective leader will be able to demonstrate the right balance between empathy and still focussing on business objectives.

Many of the future leaders will be motivated by the need to make a difference at a wider community level i.e. to be of service to humanity. These leaders will focus on giving back as opposed to just focussing on profit and growth. Their purpose is beyond greed and self-interest. They are keen to transform their business into an entity that is a responsible member of the local community and a good global player.

Great leaders believe in communication and will find all kinds of way to communicate: one-on-one conversations, team meetings, blog posts, emails messages, phone or Skype calls. They do not just talk about communicating, they do it!

Excellent leaders have the ability to make things happen, to achieve results. They persevere and have more drive than many others in their business. They never become complacent. They are always striving to move forward. They are able to remain passionate despite challenges and are able to bounce back quickly.

Great leaders are good at developing their employees to take on larger roles and more responsibility. They seek out talent and will ensure that their expertise is utilised effectively. Through this they will identify the future leaders within the business and ensure that they are exposed to activities that will enhance their experience, knowledge and skill-set.

Good leaders are comfortable to sift through information, ideas, external input as well as their own experience and make decisions. They have the ability to take all the information and weigh it up against the vision for the business and what they feel would be best. They are decisive.

In essence the business leaders who will succeed in future are those who will be more conscious of the way they operate. They will be able to function beyond their own fears and agendas. They will be keen to align their personal vision and values with that of the business. Through greater emotional intelligence they will empower their employees and bring about greater team cohesion. Finally they will find ways to make a positive contribution toward creating a sustainable future for humanity as opposed to just pursuing their own self-interests. Business coaching can help you step into this role if you are keen to sharpen your leadership skills.


Posted in CEO, Leadership.