Leadership skills today look so different to what it did when I studied at university some 30 years ago. Back then it was all about being in charge, managing people, delivering value on the product or service you are in charge of, and getting things done. Much like a leader you would think about in the armed forces.
Today leaders do more than manage performance. They need a new set of leadership skills: They inspire. They innovate. They listen, and they go out of their way to help their team members succeed.
The leadership skills used today are a totally different set then what we used even 10 years ago. The training I was delivering back then still applies, yet it has changed. Today the focus and perspective of leadership is about inspiration, facilitating, decision making, creativity, mindfulness and culture.
Key Leadership skills for today
There is a huge growth in the new skills needed to be a leader in our current times. Growth for the leader and for the development of training in these skills. Today the following are skills are needed for your success as a leader:
- Communication skills are more important now than they ever were. You need to learn to listen, to really listen so that you seek to understand. This means asking questions, to be curious, and allows others to find the answer.
- The ability to be authentic and transparent, are needed more and more. Again being curious helps, and the ability to draw others in.
- Coaching skills. One of the most essential skills for managers and leaders to possess to be successful. The ability to coach others.
- Being proactive – being able to think 3 steps ahead, and then planning to go that path, yet being flexible enough to know that sometimes you need to change tack – just as you would to move forward when sailing a yacht.
- Being able to create diversity in teams, and also to create cross functional teams. Diversity of skills, and of experience so that the wealth is in the discussions with others, and learning new and maybe better ways.
- Negotiation skills are pivotal, not just in sales, but with other employees and stakeholders. Skills that can build relationships, provide problem solving and reduce barriers.
- Having skills to build a strong network. A network that you can call upon to help with with leadership is powerful. Your connections are powerful! Networking is the key tool to growth in your career and helping the organisation.
One of the areas in leadership that is gaining momentum is creative problem solving. As a leader you no longer just need your skills and knowledge that got you your promotion. Today you need to think creatively, be able to involve the whole team, and inspire action.
We need leadership that is designed for a dynamic environment. This means being able to change as the environment changes, plus being able to work with other teams across the organisation for specific projects. Leaders need to be able to handle the volatility that this brings, and allow the teams to feel coherency with their experience and the company.
Organisations, the leadership team and their expectations within organisations also are changing rapidly. Therefore we need to be able to communicate to others what those expectations are. Therefore we need to transparent, and real, as well as learning skills to communicate in remote environments as well as face to face.
The way we learn is also changing.
The old ways of learning a once off event is no longer fitting the current economy. We need to change the model of how we learn. These skills are ones you can learn in a once off training course, yet the reality is for them to be applied in the real world, you need continuous learning and sharing to grow. This means you need assistance from a mentor, a peer or coach over a longer term.
One way this works really well is through a mastermind group or a community of practice. Each person comes from a diverse background, and brings with them skills that are unique to them.
This group meets regularly for example every month or every other week. This means the learning is continuous, and just in time. Small groups of 6 – 8 people in size are a great way to gain that intimacy of discussion and build the trust with each other.
Training is all about being provided with information and new knowledge in a once off situation. Peer masterminds, or Communities of practice allow the integration of skills, and the realistic experiences based on the workplace.
Regular meetings means real workplace examples can be discussed and everyone benefits from the continuous learning. In Masterminds I’ve worked with I’ve seen and heard discussions of challenges, real problem solving and possible solutions from previous experience. The groups form strong networks, and rely on each other to help them move through their business and career. In some cases they have even used the network of each other to help them out under a contract basis. They all find the support and opportunities to talk through situations is extremely beneficial.
Having continuous learning allows the development fully realised leaders, ones who are agile and able to pivot when needed.
Effective leadership happens everywhere.
You don’t need a title to learn leadership skills. Leadership is not positional, and it can come from everywhere in the business. It is important for business leaders to empower all staff. Conversely people from all levels within the organisation need to stand up and be leaders.
Typically in the past at the annual review process, business leaders look to see what needs to happen, and conduct a once off assessment. This review looks at where the organisation wants to go, and then how are we going to take our leaders forward. In today’s world, the ongoing process of learning will provide greater benefit to the business. Peer learning has a lower cost structure, which means you can exit across the organisation.
Leadership for todays world
With people being online communicating, the general water cooler conversation has been removed. Now we need to look at how this can be replaced. Peer learning and mastermind groups can be the answer.
People need to take ownership of their own learning, and have continuous learning, through continual engagement with others. Integrate learning opportunities. Look at where you are now, what can you do that will have the greatest impact. Consider the fact that people are already busy, and adding another thing to their calendar could mean a tipping point. So you need to consider how you can combine peer learning into the things you are currently doing.
You can no longer depend on what happened in the past, and hope that it works today. Things have changed.
Gather together with peers across organisations and gain valuable skills.
You need to consider the benefit of doing this continuous learning. Let’s consider the ROI where staff attend an ongoing monthly Mastermind group and have discussions around communication.
From these discussions your people go and implement some of the strategies.
If the at the end people are 2% better in their jobs, then you must consider:
- What impact does that have on your bottom-line?
- How much more effective are people being?
– How much better will projects be?
- What problems are being avoided?
- What new opportunities and solutions are being brought in?
If you do this for communication, how will it impact across your whole organisation?
From my perspective I hear people say they feel like they are growing. Only you will know the improvement to your bottom line. The ROI is a key element of the organisation for this investment. Ask yourself, “If we were successful at this, what would we expect to be doing?” Look at all area risk mitigation, increased efficiency on errors, better communication across teams, better leadership.
If this interests you and you would like to work with Merinda on placing your leaders into Mastermind groups, then click here.