With seismic changes happening at the top of the monarchy and the political sphere, Agata Nowakowska reflects on the leadership competencies that signify success, and how organisations can nurture them.
As organisations explore how to build their leadership pipeline, from first-time managers to C-suite executives, many are also faced with the challenge of how to develop influential leaders.
Understanding which qualities are needed to manage and inspire a team is a crucial first step to knowing what to identify and develop across the organisation.
Over the last few years, the workplace as we know it has been turned on its head due to the coronavirus pandemic and overnight shift to remote working.
With change in the workplace increasing in frequency and intensity, how well organisations navigate and adapt to this constant change will depend on whether leaders are being prepared with the right competencies and mindsets to power through disruption.
This means organisations must be hyper-alert to any of the warning signs that could signal their leadership plans need a reboot.
Reinventing leadership competencies
With many organisations adopting new agile and team-based ways of working, they’ve also had to reinvent what leadership means, including the skills and behaviours it entails.
This includes rethinking how they build new skills and competencies quickly and most effectively. Utilising digital resources, multimodal learning resources, and scenario-based learning options that are accessible to all are critical components of any well-rounded and effective upskilling programme.
As part of this rethink, they must also broaden their leadership skills menu. Exposing managers at every level to training in new areas like emotional intelligence and empathy will revolutionise their interactions with the people they support.
From good to great
With this in mind, here are seven attributes which – in combination – create a great leader. Organisations should focus on these when training and developing current and future leaders:
Self-aware: Successful leaders understand that their words, actions and behaviours impact others. They seek feedback and reflect on their strengths and weaknesses, understanding that perception is part of reality.
Collaborative: The modern workplace is more cross-functional and democratised than ever, so cultivating valuable relationships across the organisation is vital. Collaborative leaders will place team needs and priorities above their own, actively fostering synergy within and across teams. Involving others in decision-making and giving credit where its due is important to their success.
Visionary: Successful leaders craft a transformative vision and share it with a sense of passion, helping teams understand what they do and why it matters. Mobilising teams to execute the vision and sustain momentum is critical to effectively communicating a unified purpose.
Decisive: In a world of diverse thinking, complexity, data overload and rapid pace, decisiveness is essential. Great leaders will have different perspectives, ideas, and opinions, learn from anyone, and take an objective view. However, they must also sense when they have enough input to make a good business decision – striking a balance between the two.
Flexible: Great leaders must demonstrate the ability to be flexible, agile, and able to respond effectively to changing work environments. It is essential to rapidly shift direction when necessary while working with and guiding the teams and individuals they lead and being open to change and new challenges.
Motivating: Effective leaders can look at every individual they lead and figure out how best to develop, coach, and motivate them as individuals to obtain the greatest outcomes from them. A truly effective leader empowers team members to accomplish the business’s objectives and achieve their full potential.
Innovative: Great leaders improve organisational performance through innovation. They encourage the application of original and creative thinking to existing and emerging business models, processes, and products. Developing the capability to envision, foster, and apply innovation is fundamental to leadership today.
Developing a successful leader
These attributes make for great leadership that can inspire, manage and organise a team. However, even long-time leaders are unlikely to exhibit all these qualities to perfection.
Poor leadership results in poor productivity, negative company culture, employee attrition difficulties and a weak leadership bench. This means that cascading leadership training across the organisation is essential.
Today’s rapidly-changing business and work environments can leave people and organisations vulnerable to failure. To successfully navigate this persistent change, leaders and their teams must constantly update their skills and capabilities so they, and their respective organisations, can evolve and grow.
However, whilst research finds that 41% of businesses expect the need for skills linked to good management and leadership practices to increase in the next five years, employers aren’t confident about meeting this demand. Organisations should implement a broad-based continuous learning culture that ensures anyone with leadership potential has the opportunity to evolve and grow.
By regularly evaluating each individual’s plan and cross-training employees with contextualised leadership competencies, company knowledge and know-how, organisations are also re-invigorating how they undertake succession planning. This safeguards future success.