In the past, people that were above average in one area of leadership skills could survive as a leader. Technology has forced an adaptation in practically all aspects of the business environment over the past decade. The level of skills for leaders in the 21st century will need to adapt as well.
Tomorrow’s business leaders will need to possess a much broader range and higher level of leadership skills.
First of all, good human relations skills may be the baseline characteristic of tomorrow’s leaders. If an individual does not have good human relations skills or just does not get along with other people, then they will probably be doomed as a leader from the beginning. It is hard for an individual that does not get along with others to motivate anybody to do anything. Therefore, a good idea may be dismissed, if one is unable to generate some excitement or motivate others to jump on board. This is why being able to motivating people is such an important aspect of being a leader. Tomorrow’s leaders will also transition more power from themselves to the people. Leaders will need to recognize and utilize through empowerment their most talented people. Acting as a role model will help demonstrate leadership styles and be the example for other people to emulate.
Secondly, better time management skills are another characteristic that will be required of the future leaders. Managing and using hours efficiently on the telephone, doing paperwork, attending meetings and working on the computer is critical. Leaders waste time everyday by attending non-productive meetings, working on non-value added paperwork and even little things like using email inefficiently. This time adds up quickly and the costs associated are significant, since most leaders earn relatively large salaries. For instance, look at any CEO of a large corporation that probably earns at least $2,000,000 per year. This calculates to about $16 a minute. If the CEO wastes just 15 minutes per day, it cost the company and shareholders more than $60,000 per year. The same holds true for all employees, but the dollars wasted are much more significant with the middle managers and up.
Next, the leadership characteristic that has been changing the most rapidly over the past decade is technical skills. Technology, and more precisely the use of computers, has increased dramatically over the last five to ten years. Much more information on a wide variety of subjects is at everyone’s fingertips. Leaders that know how to access and use this information will be ahead of the rest when it comes to possessing critical knowledge. This will also make it easier for tomorrow’s leaders to be thinkers and doers rather than just thinkers. In the past, leaders would just command people; there was not a great need for the leaders to be doers. But, by being a doer, tomorrow’s leaders will set an example for other people or doers to follow, rather than just barking out commands.
Finally, having good problem solving and decision-making skills are two more key characteristics for tomorrow’s leaders. As people, technical, time management and any other types of issues arise, one must be able to evaluate a problem, then develop and implement a solution.
By possessing a broader range and higher level of leadership skills today, the leaders of tomorrow will evolve.