Critical Leadership Skills For Today's Leaders
As a performance and business coach, I advise my clients and colleagues to be cautious of which well they draw their source of knowledge. There are so many opinions mixed with half-truths and incomplete information out there it’s hard to know what and whom to ultimately trust.
With that in mind, I restrict my main reading to resources whose articles are professionally researched and stem from dependable professional and/or academic studies. Two of those are the Harvard Business Review and the Rotman magazine published by the University of Toronto school of management.
Five Critical Disruptive Leadership Skills
The winter edition of the Rotman magazine focused on Disruption which is arguably the world and common theme of our times. One article written by Herminia Ibarra a Professor of Organizational Behaviours at the London Business School I found particularly interesting. Her article explained the need to embrace Five Critical Disruptive Leadership skills that would help leaders survive and thrive in today’s challenging world.
1. Build and develop diverse networks
The purpose is to ensure as a leader you are receiving a wide input of new and fresh ideas from a variety of sources. In my own business, I am a member of a diverse power team that meets every six weeks to share ideas and road test our logic and perspectives on business.
Herminia refers here to collaborating within an environment of the psychological or inner circle of safety where people feel confident to express their thoughts without fear of retribution. In my mind this has always been an important part of having a culture that encourages that. Unfortunately, COVID and its related disruptive impacts have resulted in bringing this importance to the forefront of leadership strategy.
The role of managers has shifted from monitoring, controlling, and inspecting to focusing on bringing out the best in people and facilitating their development. Managers would be well advised to learn some core coaching skills as its certainly not simply a matter of having a few people skills sprinkled with common sense as some may believe.
4. Culture Shaping
This is really about looking at your current business culture and asking does this reflect the dynamics of a current and disrupted business world? What do we retain our core cultural wisdom and what do we need to change because it’s outdated and needs an overhaul?
In essence this poses the question ‘why should I believe in you and this business, boss’? This is about embracing skills like authenticity and empathy and leaders who just ‘keep it real’ and are believable. On top of that they need a compelling vision and plan but the connection part is so vital in a time when so many people are feeling disconnected and confused.
My concluding thoughts are that some readers of this article will see the five skills and conclude that these have always been there so what is new? That would be a fair observation, but I would make two points in relation to that.
1. What I observe in my practical coaching world is that knowing is one thing and implementing is another. Far too much knowledge is left on the table due to weak implementation strategies and far greater efforts in that regard are required.
2. The urgency to effectively apply these and other leadership skills have been elevated significantly based on current events and the ever-present challenges in engaging and retaining good people. Some of that ‘retention’ factor may be outside of our control as people grapple for meaning and other lifestyle-related factors, but it is an ever-increasing priority for leaders.
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