The role of the leader is never stagnant; it evolves. And if you plan to continue to develop your leadership career, you need to be able to thrive and ride the waves of the changing times, and adapt your skill set accordingly.
It’s already evident that leadership skills are necessary to sustain long-term career fulfilment, with leadership competencies listed as “skills on the rise” in the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs 2023 report, with a 53% uptake in importance.
And this is not solely for the purpose of landing a promotion. Leadership skills can help you thrive in other areas of life and your career, such as being considered for a new job when moving sideways as opposed to climbing the ladder, starting a business or side hustle, building your personal brand, boosting the quality of your performance at work, and of course, if you’re already a leader—improving your leadership effectiveness.
Leaders and managers face several challenges in 2024, such as:
- Leading multi-generational teams, with increasingly disproportionate numbers of Gen Z and Millennial workers
- Adjusting to the new normal of the hybrid work model and what that will look like practically
- Being sensitive to DEI issues and ensuring an inclusive, collaborative atmosphere
- Upskilling the workforce and adapting to learning and development needs
- Incorporating artificial intelligence into workflows
If you’re an aspiring leader and wondering what skills you need to develop to be exceptional in your role and conquer the above challenges, here are five skills you should concentrate your efforts and attention on:
To build adaptability as a leader or manager, concentrate on cultivating a mindset of continuous learning. Try to embrace change and view new market trends or challenges as growth opportunities instead of seeing them as threats, and encourage your team members to do the same. Being agile and resilient will help you easily flex your approach and pivot your strategy where necessary.
One important way to develop adaptability as a skill is to rethink your attitude towards failure, and use setbacks and negative feedback (regardless of the source) to help you grow as a leader.
2. Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence (EQ) is another essential skill needed by today’s leaders. The Word Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs 2023 report highlighted how qualities associated with emotional intelligence such as curiosity, lifelong learning, motivation, and self-awareness, are highly prized by organizations and will be in demand for the next few years. This is particularly because workplace relations in 2024 are so complex that they require much more than raw hard skills and talent.
You need to develop EQ traits such as self-awareness, a growth mindset attitude of lifelong learning, and being empathetic and establishing healthy work relationships through your communication (more on that below).
Business communication is at an all-time low. Research from Haiilo revealed that approximately 75% of employees see communication skills as the number one essential attribute for leaders, and Grammarly’s 2023 The State Of Business Communication report shows that poor communication costs U.S. businesses an estimated $1.2 trillion annually.
This is why it’s essential to focus on communicating effectively, through active listening, using multiple (and the most appropriate) communication and collaboration tools, and being mindful to use your words to empower, motivate, and inspire with confidence. Also consider that what may be interpreted in one way might be construed offensively or not be comprehended at all, by others
4. Artificial Intelligence
AI has rapidly taken over multiple industries globally over the past year, and organizations are now facing the challenge of how to incorporate AI into their specific industries and workflows. It can be a challenge, especially when considering how to navigate data protection and security concerns and adhering to AI ethics, but it is achievable with the right knowledge, training, and support.
5. Change Management
A Gartner study uncovered that 73% of employees report moderate to high stress levels as a direct result of changes in their organization, resulting in 5% worse performance than the average employee. This makes building change management skills such as effective communication, analytical skills, cross-functional collaboration, and strategic thinking, a high priority for aspiring leaders this year.
This year, commit to investing in your skills development and growth so you can easily navigate the challenges your organization is facing, drive positive change, and carve your career path and presence as an effective, influential, and successful leader.