What does it take to be a leader in business? What are those innate skills or core traits required by successful leaders in the workplace? And by “leaders” we don’t just mean those in the boardroom or c-suite, but rather any employee who is in a position where they inspire and motivate others.

Here’s our take on the in-demand qualities required of today’s leaders.

They are people leaders not people managers

The leadership style of the past was one very much centred around control, where a person in a position of power was the centre of decision making and the people aspect of their role was more administrative than inspirational. Today, employees don’t want to be managed, they want to be led. This requires an individual who nurtures an environment where those around them can achieve their very best. It’s a workplace based on trust, empowerment and two-way communication. A good “leader” is the first to acknowledge that they are not the smartest person in the room, they are empathetic and emotionally intelligent, attracting and surrounding themselves with talented people.

They prioritise intergenerational collaboration

The modern workforce means leaders have to manage multiple generations of workers – Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials, and Generation Z – each with their own unique values, needs, and at times unhelpful generalisations and harmful stereotypes. When confronted by someone who demonstrates behaviours so foreign to our own it can lead to conflict, spoken or unspoken, which negatively impacts performance and productivity. Today’s leaders see the benefits in a cross-generational workforce; more broadly, they appreciate new cultures and actively create diverse teams. They find ways to ensure effective communication between team members, they are non-negotiable when it comes to respecting boundaries and prioritise psychological safety.

They are customer-centric

The most successful current day brands are those that are customer-centric; they have created a culture around the customer and their needs. With an explosion of choice literally at our fingertips, as customers we have more choice than ever before. That places a huge amount of pressure on businesses to deliver an exceptional customer experience and have a genuine commitment to delivering customer value. Today’s leaders understand the importance of creating products, processes, policies and culture that delivers on customer experience. From who they hire through to how they measure performance, effective leaders link everything to customer outcomes.

They think and act strategically

To say today’s leaders need to think strategically would be an understatement. In times gone by, businesses experienced at least some sense of stability but in today’s world of exponential change there is very little certainty. In fact, in some instances the future is almost unimaginable – could we have predicted a global pandemic that fundamentally changed the way we lived and worked? Today’s leaders effortlessly balance the day-to-day responsibilities of getting things done with a long-term perspective and eye for what is, or could, be possible. Not only do they think strategically but they can navigate unpredictable environments effectively. They are adaptive and persistent, they anticipate opportunities and threats, challenging the status quo, while being decisive. This requires courage and a learning mindset.

By no means definitive, the above is simply a brief introduction to current day leadership, and in particular the skills and traits in-demand by employers. While some aspects of leadership may remain the same, our idea of the type of leader that an organisation needs is forever evolving.

Need help?

If you need guidance on how to develop your own leadership skills or those of your high potentials, then get in touch with us today. Let’s talk.

The Decipher Team

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