5 Superstar Skills Every Leader Needs To Master
By: William Arruda
There are some things all leaders do regardless of their function, industry or location. These include relationship building, visioning and inspiring. These are core competencies that most great leaders possess. But technology and social changes have spawned a new set of skills that distinguish relevant leaders from reluctant relics. Here are five cutting-edge skills that will give even the most experienced leaders a competitive advantage.
1. Social Media
If you want to look like you don’t know what’s going on, avoid social media at all cost or delegate it to someone on your team so you don’t have to get involved.
Social media provides the most efficient vehicle for executives to connect with stakeholders. And it makes professionals want to follow you (isn’t that the essence ofleadership?). A study conducted by LinkedIn and Altimeter showed that 76% of executives say they would rather work for a social CEO. A Weber Shandwick studyechoed these findings, indicating that 80% of employees say they would rather work for a social CEO, and two thirds of customers say that their perception of the CEO impacts their perception of the company. This goes beyond just the CEO. It’s important for all leaders. A 2014 study of social CEOs conducted by BRANDfog confirmed that social media use contributes to building trust. Roughly two-thirds of U.K. respondents and nearly three-quarters of U.S. respondents believe that a company is more trustworthy if its C-Suite executives and leadership team use social media to communicate about core mission, brand values and purpose.
If you’re a millennial leader without these skills, people will wonder if you grew up under a rock. If you are a boomer, those who work for you might question your relevance. You may think you’ve got social media covered because someone is managing it for you, but this is not something you can completely delegate if you want to be taken seriously.
We have been moving from command and control as a primary leadership style – a holdover from the industrial revolution – to a more participative, interactive style that draws on principles of good coaching. In Primal Leadership: Learning to Lead with Emotional Intelligence, Daniel Goleman, with coauthors Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee, argues that leaders who exhibit attributes of emotional and social intelligence are more able to connect with others and be better leaders. The book suggests that to be successful in the relationship economy, coaching skills are essential for helping employees increase their success and engaging them in their work. In a previous post, I shared advice from leading coaches whose techniques you can incorporate into your leadership style to enhance your leadership prowess. Developing coaching skills will help you help your people expand their success in support of your mission.
Video is the future of personal branding, and it’s an essential skill leaders need to master. Why? Because the workplace is becoming more and more virtual, and relationships are built through trust and emotional connection. If you are only using the 26 letters of the alphabet to communicate with your stakeholders, you are missing out on an opportunity to build deeper and stronger connections. Video comes in two forms: Real-time video and recorded video. Both are valuable to your success as a leader. One of my clients is a CMO of a high-tech company in Silicon Valley, and she uses video very successfully. Her team is global. They only see each other in person once a year. To build and maintain a sense of community, she has added two video tools to her kit. First: Weekly video updates. Every Sunday night she sends a two-minute video message to her team sharing the highlights of the previous week and plans for the coming week along with wishes for success. Second: Monthly Google hangouts with an agenda that includes core topics but provides flexibility, which fosters relationship-building among the members of the team. Her people take turns serving as the meeting leader. Video creates connection. And it will become more and more prevalent in the new world of work. Integrate it into your routine and stand out now.
Focus has always been essential for leaders, and it has taken on an increased importance in a world where we are all on 24/7 and have more balls in the air than we can juggle. According to the Harvard Business Review, “The use of mindful practices like meditation, introspection, and journaling are taking hold at such successful enterprises as Google, General Mills, Goldman Sachs, Apple, Medtronic, and Aetna, and contributing to the success of these remarkable organizations.”Bill George, the author of Developing Mindful Leaders for the C-Suite, captures the benefits of mindfulness particularly eloquently: “Focus, clarity, creativity, compassion, and courage. These are the qualities of the mindful leaders I have worked with, taught, mentored, and interviewed. They are also the qualities that give today’s best leaders the resilience to cope with the many challenges coming their way and the resolve to sustain long-term success. The real point of leverage — which though it sounds simple, many executives never discover — is the ability to think clearly and to focus on the most important opportunities.”
5. Life-Long Learning
In the past, training was for newbies. Once you made it into leadership and completed New Manager training, learning took a back seat to everything else on your agenda. That won’t work today. The world is moving too fast for us to rest on what we know. We must maintain a constant sense of curiosity and learn new things every day, putting them into practice on a regular basis. Unlike the time-consuming sessions from the past that involved catching a flight to a three-day offsite, today’s learning is bite-sized, delivered in digestible nuggets in the form of online modules, videos and regular connection with thought-leaders. Just being an active member in a relevant LinkedIn group can help you keep the saw sharp, benchmark your processes, and learn best practices. The key is developing a mindset of continuous learning so you remain relevant and respected.
Go beyond just being a great leader, be a great mentor.
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