Leaders spent much of the past 18 months scrambling to lead their teams and companies in an environment of uncertainty and complexity. The circumstances tested their skills, competencies, practices, and business acumen to the limits. While some leaders could pivot and emerge, many failed—especially new leaders and first-time managers. But the next normal is going to be different. And leadership skills of the pre-pandemic era will not be sufficient to lead a workforce in the hybrid workplace.
As a leader, if you want to deliver on customers’ expectations more quickly in an environment of uncertainty and complexity, then you need a high-performing team. That’s attainable when you genuinely care to develop your people and have a deep bond with them. As they say, effective leadership is as much about developing your people as it is about getting the work done.
So, how can organizations develop strong leaders? What do managers/leaders need in today’s digital economy to build and lead successful teams? Leaders need to be equipped with several critical evidence-based behavioral competencies. Let’s take a look at some of them:
Have you heard about air navigation’s rule of thumb? Known as the one in sixty rule, it says that for every one degree a plane deviates off its course, it will miss its destination by one mile for every sixty miles it flies. That’s how vital staying calm and being strategically focused is when leading your organization. A slight shift in direction can either accelerate or decelerate a leader’s success. To succeed, today’s leaders need a leadership style that’s nimble and agile with a flexible mindset enabling them to shift and adapt when situations change intentionally.
There’s no denying the importance and value diversity brings to organizations. Just look at the world’s leading brands. From the management to even entry-level executives — you get to see a diverse set of individuals collectively working toward one goal. Diverse teams are good for businesses, and inclusive leaders who put together a team with diverse skill sets, experience, and knowledge will drive innovation and create a competitive advantage. But this can only be achieved when leaders don’t consider diversity as a compliance checklist. Instead, they embrace it and work toward making it a reality.
As a leader, if you want to deliver on customers’ expectations more quickly in an environment of uncertainty and complexity, then you need a high-performing team. That’s attainable when you genuinely care to develop your people and have a deep bond with them.
Having a high emotional quotient
Leaders who manage their teams effectively are said to have high emotional intelligence. Emotional IQ is the ability to understand how and why people relate and react to situations the way they do. Believe it or not, this competency was at its highest usage during the pandemic, when entire teams were working remotely. Leading teams during those times came down to how well a leader could play in the sandbox with others and still lead innovation. It has led organizations to hire managers/leaders with vital emotional intelligence. A lack of this competency will put you off your goals, make knee-jerk reactions and stay stressed all the time. What’s a strong leader who cannot pay attention to their emotions? High emotional intelligence is necessary for leaders, especially when you have a multi-generational, multicultural, and diverse workplace environment.
Accountability is about taking ownership of your actions, behaviors, and decision-making. Being an accountable leader means saying and doing what they say to achieve their organization’s vision. This key competency is critical for every leader’s success. But a lack of it can be disastrous for an organization, costing money and creating inefficiencies. Strong leaders make sure that they act with accountability themselves and expect it in the teams they manage. It has a ripple effect. When you encourage people to be accountable, you build empowerment, which helps your teams achieve.
Don the coach’s hat
Good leaders tell their team members what to do. Great leaders ask them what they think they should do. This is the true essence of being a leader who can also be a coach to bring out the best from their people. But being a coach requires you to have a fundamental skill – listening. As a leader, listening is an essential skill you can practice in every part of your life, all the time. Trust me; you’ll be amazed at how much gold you get when you genuinely listen to what people have to say. Without this element, you cannot progress to the next step, which is to build the self-confidence of the individual you’re coaching. As a leader, you may lead and inspire others, but you’ll be helping individuals reach their full potential as a coach.
These five skills are a part of a selection of critical competencies all leaders should seek to transform themselves into strong leaders suitable to drive their organizations to a more significant competitive edge in this digital economy.