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Leadership Skills for the Future

Leadership Skills for the Future

As the world becomes more connected, more transparent, and more diverse, the issues facing organisations are more complex than they’ve ever been. Continuous automation cycles and the digital disruption of business models pose major new challenges for organisations and their leaders as they seek to transform their strategies for a digital age.

In this article, we will explore:

  • The challenges facing leaders in the future world of business
  • Why leaders, regardless of whether they are new or old to the position, need to up-skill now
  • How to shape the leaders of tomorrow – today
  • The key skills leaders will need to hold in the future
  • Why the Situational Leadership® model applies to the modern business world
  • Why a culture of continuous learning is critical to ensuring you are constantly improving the leadership qualities within your business

The challenges facing leaders in the future business world

From a leadership perspective, the challenge is how to develop future employees who can embrace change and proactively innovate through it. Future-proofing your business is critical to success – in fact, the Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM) discovered that more than nine out of ten UK organisations say that a lack of leadership skills is affecting their ability to achieve their goals.

There are basic leadership skills that have worked for leaders and teams in the past. These include the ability to communicate a vision, adapt to multiple personalities, manage conflict and motivate a team.

The future of work requires leaders to have new skills, and leaders, whether completely new to leadership or seasoned ‘old school’ leaders, need to up-skill and re-skill in order to build effectiveness and to inspire teams to create the future of work.

Key reasons why leaders need to embrace Leadership training and development

The workforce of today is radically different to just 10 years ago. Leaders of current and future organisations will have to manage a workforce that is becoming increasingly more complex and diverse, and has a lot of different needs and different styles of working.

For many organisations, the age demographics of their workforce has meant the early retirement of baby boomers, which can leave a sudden gap in leadership roles that need to be filled. The challenge is that few businesses are offering emerging leaders the scope of experience they'll soon need.

Businesses often promote people with advanced technical skills in leadership roles. The issue with this is that technical skills don’t necessarily translate into excellent leadership skills.

Lack of leadership skills and little variation on leadership styles are also more pronounced in founder-managed companies. This is because it is more likely that the founder started the company with a great idea, but has not had experience in leading, growing and motivating a team.

According to a recent study from Gartner, in 2018, 47 percent of HR leaders said their organisations struggle to develop leaders, and 45 percent indicated their processes didn't yield the right leaders at the right time.

Organisations are also now – more so than before - under the spotlight externally and have to listen to and actively manage what’s happening in the external environment. Leaders need to play a role in driving that. They need to not only be managing their stakeholders internally but also have to be managing their stakeholders externally across the ecosystem, which is a brand new skill for leaders to have.

As the shelf life of skills decreases, good employees and managers recognise the need for continuous learning to stay on top of a changing world. 94% of employees said they would stay longer at a company if it invested in their career, according to LinkedIn's 2018 workplace learning report.

Leaders will have to create and show the way forward amid transitions, disruptions, chaos and ambiguity. In a world driven by devices and technology, how you lead people will make the critical difference. Leaders in this new age need to inspire, engage and lead with optimism.

Transformational leadership is a multi-faceted process, requiring self-awareness from leaders to realise their own potential, an awareness of others to bring out the best in their team, and outward awareness in order to lead across the organisation as a whole.

Skills your leaders will need in the future

Businesses require leaders to adapt with ease to the fluctuating world around us and, in turn, continually develop themselves and their skills to keep up with the fast pace of change.

Here are six skills leaders will need in an accelerated, interconnected, innovative and sustainable world:

1. Vision of the bigger picture

Leaders will need the ability to seek value for all stakeholders at the same time. A company's ecosystem of stakeholders includes its’ shareholders, but also its employees, customers, suppliers, communities, and partners.

Leaders need to be able to envision the ripple effects of any action on all these stakeholders, and act strategically and proactively to engage them as partners in a common journey.

The paradox of leadership lies in staying focused on the present, whilst also visualising the future and creating a roadmap to reach it. Innovation is the way to remain immune to creative destruction and disruptions. Leaders need to drive innovation and experimentation, and to continuously evolve to meet dynamic needs.

2. Ability to really listen and understand different perspectives

Engaging with stakeholders includes the ability to listen to them on a deep level, which means letting go of preconceived ideas, connecting to others, and respecting and being receptive to all contributions.

Leaders of the future will need to have enhanced abilities to understand people. For example, a leader needs to build the ability and agility to look beyond the face value of an employee's behaviour, and instead investigate the psychology behind a behaviour. Leaders need to focus on a ‘people-first’ perspective. A people-first perspective means that leaders need to place the highest value on people over profits and over technology.

3. Authenticity

Leaders will need to be able to follow their intuition with clarity and confidence. But being in touch with one's intuition requires a high level of authenticity, removing personal barriers such as prejudice.

4. Courage

Clear intuition will be necessary to see the path through disruptive technologies, changing demographics and resource availability. Decisions to radically change course will sometimes need to be made.

5. Humility

The complex world we live in is a world with multiple voices. With always-on Internet, anyone can engage, create, and broadcast opinions. Leaders need to know that everyone has an opinion and solutions require participation and responsible behaviour.

Future leaders need to be hyper-aware of their own emotional range, the ability to override typical emotional reactions to high-pressure situations, and be able to choose and respond with emotional appropriateness.

6. Empowering their teams

The digital economy is driven by rapid on-going developments. Leaders cannot take ownership of everything. A leader cannot know it all, and the top-down approach is no longer sustainable. Leaders need to empower their teams to work with autonomy and freedom, and to take decisions. Organisations need to create leaders at all levels by building participation and accountability.

Developing your future leaders now

Without effective leadership training and development practices in place, your organisation may well be facing an uncertain future, as key skills are lost, invaluable experience fails to be shared and passed on, all of which often impacts upon a stakeholders confidence.

There should also be a clear succession planning process in place to ensure there are leaders on hand to step up if someone in a leadership position retires or moves on. Effective leadership succession planning is key to long-term organisational success.

Here are some tips on developing your leaders for the future:

  • Ensure that your future leaders are able to fully appreciate all aspects of your business and gain a broad-based knowledge of your current industry, as well as the future directions for both your industry and organisation
  • Leadership development works if your future leaders understand and experience the different roles of the employees in your organisation. They will one day make decisions that may affect them, so it is important that they develop an understanding from differing perspectives
  • Giving them challenging projects will reveal their capabilities and capacities, as well as develop their critical thinking skills and creativity when faced with unfamiliar and difficult tasks as they learn new skills. It will also improve their confidence and this goes a long way to enhancing their commitment to the organisation
  • Your aspiring leaders need to feel that there is someone they can turn to for advice, guidance and support on a professional level. Mentors can be senior employees within your organisation, retired executives or relevant professionals in other companies
  • Let your future leaders know how they are performing. They will be eager to find out if they are doing a good job and if there are any areas for improvement or further development

Your current employees can ultimately be your most productive, successful leaders. By being more intentional about developing future leaders, you can ensure you're not scrambling to fill roles when new leadership positions open up.

Why Situational Leadership® Building Leaders is relevant for your future

People react to situations, events and other people based on their own beliefs, which come from their unique individual history. This determines their behavioural culture and their psychology. We repeat patterns of behaviour and we do it so often that we become comfortable with it.

It’s critical for leaders to examine their own psychology and how it affects both their leadership quality and style, and the company’s productivity and growth.

In the business world today, there are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of different leadership styles. However, many of these styles rely heavily on the fundamentals that form the principles of Situational Leadership®.

The ability to successfully influence has been found to be important in leading employees across a range of industries, job roles and working arrangements, as well as across a full spectrum of knowledge workers. Whether a follower is employed in a highly complex job or working remotely, or in a relatively basic job and part of a tightly knit team, Situational Leadership® has been found to be universally effective.

The Situational Leadership® model is an easy approach to learn and can quickly have a measurable positive impact on an organisation’s processes and productivity. Tried and tested by thousands of organisations worldwide, Situational Leadership® therefore continues to be one of the best leadership approaches to adopt and remains relevant in the business environment today.

Find out more about Situational Leadership® training, and the next course from GBS Corporate Training.

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The Situational Leadership® model transcends cultural and generational differences and equips leaders around the world with the skills necessary to drive behavioural change and increase productivity. It prepares leaders for the most pressing challenges pervasive in today and tomorrow’s work environments.

Why progressive companies are adopting Continuous Learning and Development

The working environment of today sees people stay in jobs for shorter periods of time, increasing the turnover of employees and potentially reducing the incentive of organisations to invest in their long-term development.

However, identifying and closing skill gaps can better prepare your organisation for a dynamic future. Management therefore needs to show a consistent commitment to year-round learning. The link between lower employee turnover and higher productivity is clear. An organisation as a whole will benefit from this commitment to a robust, forward-thinking learning and development programme.

Progressive companies are now looking to transform themselves and embrace continuous learning as a way to up-skill and re-skill their workforce. Employees that are more actively engaged with learning, training, and skills certification are more satisfied human resources and have a higher likelihood of remaining valuable contributors to their company for the long haul.

A continuous learning culture can offer for your organisation the following:

1. Fill the Skills Gap More Efficiently

Rather than aiming to close the inevitable skills gap through traditional means (e.g. hiring full-time employees or contractors to back-fill open positions), progressive companies build and nurture a continuous learning culture that regularly trains existing employees to satisfy skills demands as they arise across the organisation.

Nurturing a workforce that continually acquires vital skills keeps the internal talent pipeline full and reduces the need for conventional talent acquisition and its associated costs.

2. Gain a Competitive Edge

Companies that embrace continuous learning empower individuals to drive more value across the organisation and set the stage for better corporate performance. Strong learning cultures also drive faster time to market for products and services, better employee productivity, faster response to customer needs, and a better ability to meet future demands in the marketplace.

A culture of learning helps them be a more effective asset to the company and create better competitive differentiation among peers in the marketplace.

3. Create a Better Overall Work Environment

When everyone in the organisation buys into a continuous learning culture, it creates not only a more productive workforce, but also a more enjoyable and innovative work environment. It shows employees are seen as human resources that can be nurtured and consciously integrated into a company’s skills infrastructure. It transforms an employee’s role from just having a job into a growing career opportunity.

Building a continuous learning culture helps organisations to engage with their workforce more effectively and empower them with skills that significantly benefit both parties. Companies who embrace continuous learning will see happier employees, better organisational performance and greater competitive differentiation in their market.

GBS can help you develop your leadership skills

GBS provides a series of Situational Leadership® training courses related to different applications of the model. We help business leaders to learn to appropriately balance their task direction with proper relationship behaviour, which helps to maintain high levels of consistent performance across team members.

Our next course is being delivered in London on 1st to 2nd July 2019. Find out more here 

Book your place by filling clicking here and filling in a contact form.