Key Skills and Attributes in 21st Century Leadership

Developing Today’s Leaders

Life as a leader of a team/organisation can be an isolated place – you are expected to have all the answers, and yet opportunities to review and develop your leadership skills can be scarce and the likelihood of receiving useful feedback is often not high

Our approach to leadership development recognises that many of the assumptions and beliefs people hold about leaders and leadership are either wrong, or out of date.  For example, the idea that all leaders are charismatic extroverts has been shown to be false.

For that reason our Leadership Programmes look at the ways leadership styles and methodologies have changed over the years and, in particular, how the problems and opportunities facing tomorrow’s leaders might be addressed successfully.Teamwork

Our experience of working with successful clients from both government and private sectors, together with analysis of the best of academic research has led us to identify a number of key factors that seem to determine the most effective leadership attributes:

  • The “best” leadership style is context dependent. The leader must be able to adapt his or her style to suit the opportunities and pressures as they arise.
  • Exemplary leaders combine the ability to define a future vision and strategy with the listening and communication skills necessary to engage and motivate those who will deliver it. Interpersonal and listening skills related to the Emotional Intelligence (EQ) of the leaders are becoming progressively more important as the need to ensure engagement and commitment of staff increases.
  • As with so many other areas, the balancing of advocacy with enquiry requires each leader to know where she or he stands personally. If there is a strong preference one way or the other, they will require practice to ensure that when they are using the other approach that they are “congruent”. In other words, their words, tone and body language and values systems are all aligned.
  • Self-awareness and the ability to prioritise, especially when under pressure, are very important as they have a direct effect on personal stress levels, work/life balance and overall effectiveness.
  • The skill and courage to hold people accountable can be one of the most challenging characteristics to uphold, especially when it runs counter to prevailing culture.
  • The willingness and ability to coach members of the team is of high value, especially when performance improvement is required.
  • Leaders need to be “authentic” (have undisputed credibility) – this often means that they are willing to show vulnerability where appropriate and are transparent in their dealings. In a comprehensive survey first published in 1993 conducted in the USA, the four most important leadership characteristics were: Honesty, Forward Looking, Inspiring and Competent.   This means that in many cases a fundamental shift in attitudes and approach will be necessary to maximise future potential.




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