As leaders, you no doubt understand the degree to which you profoundly influence every aspect of your organization. Finding the secret sauce to successfully lead a mix of personalities need not be elusive. And keeping current is possible when you decide to carve out time to yourself. The possibilities turn into probabilities the more you are able to access your self-awareness and capacity to remain a lifelong learner. In order to achieve immediate organizational objectives while preparing for the future, honing your leadership skills remains a priority. As Indra Nooyi, former CEO of PepsiCo wisely said: Just because you are CEO, don’t think you have landed. Focusing on the following competencies can help you succeed right now:
Without question, leaders are expected to be competent communicators. Due to the proliferation of accessible information, no one is immune from being closely scrutinized, criticized or ridiculed. As a result, the significance of acquiring interpersonal communication competencies is greater than ever. A leader’s shortcomings as well as strengths can be instantly judged. Leaders who are adept at creating authentic connection understand that their success is underscored by harnessing exceptional people skills. The absence of clear and thoughtful communication on the part of leaders has far-reaching consequences. Such actions slowly erode trust, morale and engagement.
Extensive Research by DDI International ranks empathy as the number one leadership skill, The company notes that it is the most important precursor that determines a leader’s success. It is a foundational skill that employees have come to expect from their leaders, especially now. Empathy and listening go hand in hand. Therefore, if employees don’t feel appreciated, heard and understood, why would they feel motivated to contribute to your enterprise? The likelihood of these core people skills disappearing anytime soon is zero to none, especially when you consider the impact of our recent global health crisis on business and the workforce as a whole.
Leaders can no longer operate in a vacuum. While some leaders may still prefer autocratic style, others have recognized that their success today and into the future is dependent upon tapping into the wisdom of others. When you get into the habit of asking others what they think and how they would go about solving a particular challenge, you are positioning yourself for growth. Not only can your team members offer an alternative, or series of options that might be better than any you can come up with, you can also become more adept at leading differently. There isn’t an organization today that isn’t grappling with complexity and a myriad of challenges in order to improve efficiencies. Wise leaders realize that they cannot achieve their goals in isolation.
Conversely, leaders that do not encourage idea sharing may be setting themselves up for failure. The new workforce expects to be heard and place huge value on opportunities to collaborate. Many have brilliant suggestions or approaches that either lie dormant or are quashed simply because leaders have difficulty acknowledging the source. For some of you, the very thought of implementing ideas emanating from younger, smarter individuals represent a threat to the status quo as well as your own position. The unfortunate, likely result of that approach will only serve to exacerbate disengagement and the loss of valuable assets.
Agility coupled with setting the strategic vision
In addition to being a collaborator, being agile and responsive to ongoing disruption are also prerequisites if you aspire to being a future-ready leader. These competencies goes hand in hand with establishing the long term direction as well as the core, distinctive activities of your organization.
Leaders who set and successfully execute their vision are acutely aware that they could not have achieved their vision without having a great team supporting and leading key initiatives. Inspiring people to buy into the vision while accepting that the journey involves making adjustments on the fly while meeting challenges head-on is part of the process. And recalibrating in the face of the unexpected is a crucial piece.
While circumstances remains volatile and uncertainty persists, being open, fearless and receptive to honing your leadership competencies are choices you can control. Waiting for a “return to normal” is not only a risky, reactive approach, it is a highly unlikely scenario. Instead, your best strategies include building relationships through exceptional interpersonal skills, choosing to collaborate with your teams, (whether or not they are permanently on your payroll) and remaining flexible to confidently move towards the future.