Business leadership is not just about mastering the quantitative analysis that allows you to produce the most robust Excel spreadsheets and quarterly presentations. Artificial intelligence and other technologies are quickly taking over that part of the job.
To be an effective leader in today’s competitive workplace, you have to go beyond the quantitative and adopt behaviors that will lead you, and your team, to greater success. Developing a well-rounded set of leadership skills that emphasizes interpersonal and people-management know-how combined with technical proficiency will allow you to be optimally effective and productive. Becoming a world-class leader means being well-rounded in your soft and technical skills and understanding that leadership is a lifelong journey. Leaders must constantly work to develop and refine their skills to provide better guidance for their employees, their organizations, and themselves.
Here are five qualities every business leader must master in order to succeed in today’s business landscape:
A fast-paced world means change is the new normal. Organizations need to be agile and ready to change as needed, and they must evolve along with the market to remain competitive. Leaders must be comfortable and prepared to navigate and manage change both strategically and tactically in order to guarantee success.
Leaders who effectively manage change do so by being transparent, identifying gaps in results and performance, offering opportunities to fill these gaps, monitoring progress, guiding people to success, and reviewing outcomes every step of the way. The best change-management leaders don’t leave others intimidated or fearful about the direction the organization is headed in; instead, they inspire others to be accountable for their role in the change by focusing their attention on the benefits of change and by celebrating progress.
Leaders who master change management open the lines of communication between themselves and their employees, so everyone gets the chance to ask questions, discuss challenges, and celebrate wins.
Influence is the result of credibility, confidence, consistency, and competence. No matter how many promotions or praises an individual receives, he or she won’t build influence without the right combination of traits that facilitate connecting with others in a meaningful way. In fact, the most successful leaders know that trust is essential to building influence and achieving common goals.
Influencing others is not just about using creative words to sway people one way or the other; it’s about leading with clear actions and aligning actions with words. People have to see you doing what you say you are going to do in order to trust your leadership. Successfully influencing someone means both parties are getting something from the partnership.
Being an effective business leader means being able to harness the talents of those on your team with skill sets different from your own. No one person has all the skills and talents needed to succeed. Leaders need to build and lead teams with a common purpose and goal, while identifying and using the unique skills of individual team members to achieve the best possible outcome.
For partnerships and teams to be successful for all parties, they need to be genuine. Partners and team members must have trust and respect for one another and openly communicate about how the relationship is going as it unfolds.
Today’s leaders don’t lack education; they lack strategy. A lack of strategy skills affects the ability of organizations to remain competitive in an increasingly digital landscape. In 2015, a PwC survey of 6,000 senior executives revealed that fewer than 10% of respondents fit the description of being a strategic leader or had the skills needed to lead successful transformational change. All strategic leaders should learn the art of delegation, understand the value of open communication, and create a variety of possible solutions when faced with problems.
Leaders need to make time for strategic thinking. While all leaders are busy, it’s their role in the organization to lead and manage everyone’s day-to-day work with the strategy in mind.
Holding Others in Esteem
Business leadership isn’t about ordering people around just to get the job done in an expedited manner. Leaders have to understand the task at hand and communicate that task to others in a collaborative way, recognizing that there is more than one way to fulfill a goal. All of the previously discussed skills require this “umbrella” skill to be optimally effective. When leaders are active listeners and empower others, they show respect for individual opinions, insights, and work ethics.
Supporting the Development of Business Leadership
Developing business leadership competencies, such as change management, strategic thinking, and partnership development, helps individuals, teams, and your organization as a whole. While perfecting leadership qualities is not something that can be achieved overnight (remember, leadership is a lifelong learning journey!), developing these five skills will boost morale, results, and productivity.