What are the top skills that leaders need?
Fearless leaders are willing to push the boundaries, try new things and pave the way for more effective ways of working. Without fearlessness, organizations can easily become stuck in deep-rooted processes that don’t work, or fade into obscurity out of failing to do anything new that sets them apart from competitors.
How to create fearless leaders
It’s important to foster a culture where individuals have the freedom to try new ideas. This goes further than simply letting employees make suggestions, these ideas must actually be carefully considered and acted on when appropriate. Over time this sets an example that everyone should feel safe to express their ideas and that they will be listened to if they do so.
2. Vision sharing
No surprises here, leaders need a clear direction or vision to focus their efforts, as well as the efforts of their team. Even if the leader themselves has a clear vision, this is fruitless if their team members do not have their own clear goals to help them contribute.
How to help leaders share their vision
Ensure all leaders have access to a tool to set cascadable goals and allow their team to set and track complementary goals. This will help provide a clear direction for everyone and measure progress to hold teams accountable.
3. Agility and adaptability
While the shared vision of a team should stay consistent over time, the tactics used to achieve this vision will inevitably need to pivot and shift in response to different environmental factors. Leaders who have the ability to be agile and adapt to situations will be able to guide their teams to success even when challenges arise.
How to create agile leaders
Workplaces that prioritize outcomes over tactics and give employees permission to try new things are the best environment to foster agile leaders. Open communication and continuous feedback will also help leaders identify when change is needed and keep their team up to date with what needs to happen.
4. Swift decision making
In order to make these decisions on the fly, leaders need to be data-driven and know how to base their next decision on relevant statistics. When leaders are delayed in choosing their next move, businesses can lose competitive advantage or miss out on opportunities.
How to aid leaders with decision making
It’s imperative that leaders have access to real-time data that can advise them to make strategic decisions, ideally via an easy to use dashboard. This relies on an organization-wide commitment to gather data in a central platform so everyone can access the key business insights they require.
5. A strategic mindset
With all of this information available at our fingertips today, it’s no longer acceptable to ignore what your data is telling you, and make decisions based on a gut feeling or simply repeat the way things have always been done. All leaders in a business should be able to think strategically and be in a position to make data driven decisions.
Organizations can benefit massively from giving different leaders a seat at the table to contribute to the bigger picture vision and direction of the business. This will also make it easier for your leaders to communicate and help align your broader team with the organization’s strategic objectives.
How to help leaders be more strategic
Once you’re capturing the data you need, it’s vital this can be presented in a way that actually helps your leaders gain valuable insights. Look for systems with easy-to-use dashboards, that do all the analysis for you, so leaders can simply log in and get the information they need to confidently make decisions and think long-term.
6. Emotional intelligence
One of the top leadership skills that sets apart true leaders from the average manager is emotional intelligence or EQ. With EQ, leaders can really understand their team members and look under the surface to identify deeper issues that might be affecting them positively or negatively at work.
Leaders with a high EQ can also communicate better with the people around them as they understand how to appeal to different personality types and use the right methods of communication to get their message across.
How to maintain a leadership team with high EQ
Before any manager is hired or an employee is promoted to a management role, emotional intelligence should be considered as a non-negotiable skill the individual must possess. Emotional intelligence is usually an innate skill but it can be further developed over time with the right training. A leader’s EQ can be measured through testing, and those who do lack emotional intelligence should be supported with relevant training to hone this skill.
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On top of emotional intelligence, general communication skills are a must for all leaders. In addition to understanding the best method of communication to use with different people, good leaders also prioritize timeliness and inclusion.
This means always distributing key information as quickly as possible and sharing it with all relevant stakeholders in an equitable way. It also means having a channel to communicate with team members one on one and creating a safe environment for them to speak to you directly and in private if they need to.
How to help leaders communicate
The right tools can make it much easier for leaders to communicate fairly to their teams. Having a team Slack channel or similar can be a good way to share quick updates with your whole team and ensure everyone has access to the same information.
Tools like pulse surveys can also be used to send regular check-in forms to employees and ask how they are going. The responses to these should be available to relevant managers and be followed up with a face-to-face catch up between a manager and each of their direct reports every one or two weeks.
One person simply can’t do it all. As company goals become increasingly ambitious, leaders need to tap into different skill sets of those around them to make things happen. Importantly, leaders must see team members with different skills as a complement to their strengths, not a threat to their authority.
How to foster collaborative leaders
As with vision sharing, dynamic goal setting also fosters collaboration by allowing leaders to cascade goals and strategic alignment to team members, thereby delegating work while still contributing. These shared goals allow leaders and those in their teams to individually contribute to goals through their own personal strengths.
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9. Integrity and honesty
None of the aforementioned skills mean a thing if they are not underpinned by honesty and integrity. Employees must ultimately be able to trust their leaders and be confident they will follow through on what they say and be consistent.
How to create honest leaders
While honesty and integrity are usually innate qualities, there are some external factors we can control to help foster integrity and consistency and limit people turning to dishonest means. Workplaces that set realistic performance expectations and reward measured risk-taking (even if it doesn’t always produce results) are typically environments that allow honest leaders to thrive.
10. Data-driven mindset
Decisions can’t be made based on guesswork or gut-feel anymore. They need to be backed up with data and analytics. So to be successful, you not only need to have solid and accurate data available to you, but also be able to make sense of that data to draw insights and make informed decisions form it.
If you don’t have a natural analytical ability, that’s no problem, you just need the right tools to support you! Tools like intelliHR take away the need for data scientists, spreadsheet wizards, or mathematical ability, as we not only crunch the numbers for you, but we also identify issues or anomalies, translating them into insights you can act on.
These are the top 10 leadership skills we think are most relevant for leaders in our hybrid, remote working world. Want more on leadership? Here are some other posts and resources you might like: