The global workforce in 2022 is estimated to number 3.45 billion. If we take an average of one leader for every 20 employees, there are an estimated 172,500,000 people in leadership positions.
A Randstad USA study reveals that 60 percent of respondents left a job or would leave a job over a lousy leader.
There are lots of leaders and leadership positions in the world, which makes it all the more important to have the right people in place. In a perfect world, Superman could make sure everything was in order and make the right decisions. But in the real world, even the most famous historical leaders, such as Churchill and Lincoln, have been unsuccessful at times.
Being a leader is one of the hardest things you can do. A CareerBuilder survey in 2014 included a representative sample of 3,625 full-time workers from different industries and found that only 34% of workers have the goal of moving into a leadership position. Why would people not want to advance? Wouldn’t it mean better pay, a higher position, and building on their corporate dreams?
Yes, it would. But there’s another side to the coin. In today’s dynamic environment, leaders need to constantly develop and learn. What worked yesterday may not work tomorrow. We all know the chaos brought by the pandemic, the great resignation, and other factors. While the necessity for the development of a leader is known by every organization, according to research led by data analysts at Zippia, 83% of organizations believe it’s important to develop leaders at every level of the company, while only 5% of businesses have implemented leadership development at all levels. Without a proper development plan, aspiring leaders are bound to fail.
This article explores all the competencies leaders need and why they’re essential, plus ways to strengthen them.
What are the types of leadership skills needed in the future?
Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu wrote about the skills of effective leaders back in the sixth century. He associated skills and traits like ambition, conscientiousness, integrity, persistence, and honesty with successful leadership. While these key skills remain important, with the passage of time, leadership skills have evolved to solve more complex problems that arise in organizations.
Today, we divide leadership skills into three categories:
Technical skills include knowledge of the methods, processes, systems, and equipment used in different departments. These skills vary by field. For example, a football coach must know how to position the arm for accuracy and distance, whereas a mechanic needs to know how to install and repair various parts of machinery.
Leaders must have the technical expertise to address the changing needs of employers, customers, and clients. Must-have technical skills for modern leaders include:
- Data analysis skills to process, manage and store vast amounts of data, as well as to turn it into actionable datasets
- Cloud computing skills to help cross-functional teams work efficiently within an Agile process
- Programming and coding skills
- Technical writing skills
Interpersonal skills are all about working with people and connecting with them to foster a healthy work environment. For example, when a leader has good communication skills, they can express their ideas clearly
Basic interpersonal skills include verbal and non-verbal communication, empathy, negotiation, conflict resolution, and problem-solving. Advanced interpersonal skills include people management skills that help the leader oversee the entire team’s performance through consistent motivation, learning, training, and development. They also help to connect teams with the right digital technologies to advance toward digital transformation.
Conceptual skills include both technical know-how and interpersonal skills. An organization consists of many departments wherein the work of employees would be completely exclusive to one another, for example, while the technical team would focus on reducing errors in service, the marketing team would focus on promoting the service on different platforms. A leader’s conceptual skills allow the leader to think in abstract terms and construct meaningful concepts so all departments across the company move in the same direction regardless of individual goals. To do this, the leader must know how all departments work and find ways to effectively communicate with each of them.
Here are typical conceptual skills:
- Understanding the organization as a whole and how different departments are related
- Forecasting future events to make long-term plans and decisions for growing the business
- Having a proactive attitude
The higher the leadership position, the more effective the leader can be — if they have the right skills.
Where do your leaders stand today?
Assessing leadership skills is critical to avoid the Dunning-Kruger-Effect, which is defined as a cognitive bias whereby people with low ability at a task overestimate their ability. The trickiest situation is when bad leaders don’t see what skills they are lacking, which takes away any potential for improvement.
Understanding how to assess leadership skills allows you to get an objective idea of an individual’s abilities as a business leader. Assessing skills will help you capitalize on your leadership strengths and assist in improving your leadership weaknesses.
Why prepare for future leadership roles?
The success of Barbie is attributed to Jill Barad. However, the failure of Mattel, plunging the company into deep losses, is also linked to the actions of Barad as a leader. When promoting new educational software, Barad used old marketing techniques and overlooked that the dot-com evolution had changed consumers’ buying habits.
Business challenges can arise at any time, and to be an effective leader, one must be able to respond to those challenges with intelligence, strategy, and expertise. Leadership skill development helps improve a leader’s performance, expanding readiness to hold higher-level positions as well as fostering innovation and creative thinking, succession planning, and organizational change. Yet organizations that spend billions of dollars annually to train and prepare current and future leaders are growing frustrated with the results.
One of the setbacks is that traditional methods of classroom training and other forms of development can rarely be implemented today. Why? Because the structures of day-to-day operations have become more complex, and jobs have become more intricate. In the past, a hierarchical and rigid style of leadership was favored. Today, leaders must create a collaborative and team-based work environment to empower their employees to use their own judgment.
The new-age leadership development calls for transformative steps to build leadership in the organization, challenging deeply held beliefs, worldviews, and frames of reference of what it means to be a twenty-first-century leader. To be a competent leader, start by analyzing tools and practices to improve your leadership competencies in terms of the interpersonal, conceptual, and technical skills that match the future needs of your organization.
HR’s role in leadership development
We have identified the most important steps the HR team can take to help develop leaders in their organization.
- Build a recruiting process in a way that ensures enough people with leadership skills or leadership potential are joining the team
- Ensure that training programs are based on what’s currently happening in the organization and the future skills needed, not based on a standard framework
- Offer continuous feedback and insights on how prospective leaders can perform better in their roles and advise them on how they can advance their careers
- Design promotion criteria according to skills the organization wishes to nurture.
HRForecast resources for leadership development
For tips, advice, and inspiration to start on your leadership journey, check out these top resources on our blog:
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Contact us to learn about practical frameworks and tools you can use right away to create a leadership development plan and gain a competitive advantage.