6 min read
10 Essential Leadership Skills You May Be Missing
By: Michelle Bennett on Jul 5, 2022 5:30:00 AM
The skills needed to thrive as a leader have changed over the last couple of years, with the rise of remote work, shifting employee expectations, and a constant battle to retain talent. These shifts have given rise to the need to acquire new leadership skills. Leaders today need to upskill their people-centric skills to inspire, engage, and motivate their people to drive their organizations forward.
Here are ten essential leadership skills you may be missing with all these changes.
Agility and Adaptability
The world of work has fundamentally evolved from sweeping, large-scale change initiatives to iterative changes and constant improvements and innovations. The pandemic forced stagnant organizations to grow overnight to meet demands in a new reality. Leaders need not go back to the old way. Instead, they need to lead with agility and adaptability, working with their peers to break down internal silos, be decisive, and develop creative solutions that are implemented quickly.
Empathy and Humility
All leaders can benefit from understanding the importance of empathy and humility in leadership. These pillars of emotional intelligence allow leaders to understand their people and meet them where they are to guide and coach them. They can admit they do not have all answers; thus, they are open to feedback, actively listen, and want to work collaboratively with their team to find solutions.
Building Relationships and Trust
Employees want leaders who trust them and see them as individuals. They expect their leader to provide support, care about their well-being, and create an environment of psychological safety where they feel free to contribute.
Furthermore, they will not tolerate leaders who are not transparent and do not lead with integrity. These changes in employee expectations have put pressure on managers to hone leadership skills in developing authentic relationships and building trust with their teams.
Inspirational Leadership Communication
Communication and effective leadership go hand-in-hand. You can’t have one without the other. In a world that is constantly changing and personal priorities are being re-evaluated by employees, being able to speak in an inspirational way that gives purpose to work and the impact an organization is making in the world is valuable.
Another pillar of inspirational leadership communication is active listening. Individuals want to be heard, have their point of view understood, and perspective valued by their leader. Luckily, with leadership communication skill development, any leader can gain the ability to speak clearly and with confidence while also actively listening and acknowledging those around them.
Autonomy, Empowerment, Delegation, and Accountability
Employees want autonomy, flexibility, and ownership over their work and are willing to leave if they don’t get it. However, leading a team who has greater ownership over their work and where and when it is completed requires a whole new set of skills for leaders. Autonomy and empowerment will never be successful without effective delegation and accountability. Leaders need the skills to grant appropriate freedom by setting boundaries, assigning the proper work, and getting the commitment from those they lead to be accountable.
Customer-Centric and Market Focused
Gone are the days when leadership was internally focused on managing teams, departments, and the company. Yes, this is still important; however, today's leaders require upskilling to shift from internal focus to external awareness of market shifts and make the customer central to every decision, independent of the leader’s functional area.
If the last couple of years has taught us anything, leaders need to hone strategic thinking skills, gain knowledge of the market, and have a deeper understanding of the interconnectivity of an organization and the impact decisions have on the customer.
Development, Coaching, and Feedback
Individuals want a leader who is invested in seeing them grow and takes time to develop them. A LinkedIn report uncovered that 94% of employees agreed they would stay at a company longer if it invested in their career. With direct managers having the most significant influence and time with an individual, those in management roles must develop coaching and feedback skills to pass their strengths on to those around them.
In addition to developing coaching and feedback skills, learning to set professional development plans and goals with employees will go a long way in supporting their career development and providing the leadership individuals desire.
Resilience, Grit, and Passion
Having the skills to bounce back from setbacks, perseverance when everything seems impossible, and the passion for forging on to see long-term goals come to fruition would have been invaluable for leaders at the start of 2020. Unfortunately, however, many leaders did not have the opportunity to develop these skills before the pandemic, leading to 69% of leaders in one survey reporting that the pandemic was the most stressful time of their entire career.
In addition to the positive impact resilience, grit and passion have on a leader, when employees witness their leader face challenges and stress in a calm, controlled, composed manner, it encourages them to do the same. It is a powerful combination of skills to navigate the pressures in a crisis, leading to better decisions, greater employee engagement, and maybe the difference between weathering the storm or not.
Everyone wants to be heard, respected, included, and valued by their leader and organization. Therefore, leaders focused on inclusion lead their teams with fairness and respect and build a team culture of psychological safety and trust. As a result, individuals feel open to being themselves and sharing ideas without fear of ridicule or judgment.
Growth Mindset and Continuous Learning
The velocity of change in business, the world, and a leader's expectations requires those in management to develop a growth mindset, the foundation of continuously learning. In doing so, leaders open themselves up to new ideas to solve complex problems, meet the needs of their teams, and can quickly pivot to seize opportunities.
Conclusion: Start Developing These Important Leadership Skills
A famous proverb says, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” So while it would have been ideal to have these ten essential leadership skills before the pandemic, now is the time to develop them so that you are ready to face whatever tomorrow might bring.
With a partner like Niagara Institute, and our suite of leadership development programs, custom solutions, and coaching packages, you can acquire the knowledge, tools, and skills needed to be a leader your team wants and company needs.
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