Today’s leaders require a broad range of core skills and competencies to manage in an ever-changing, economically and culturally diverse, and constantly challenging environment. Businesses and their Learning and Development teams need to identify the competencies their leaders require through skills-gap analyzes and then put in place a leadership program to develop and sustain those critical competencies.
E-learning can help bridge that skills gap. Broad-ranging training catalogues and digital assets accessed via an LMS or LXP offer expert opinion in a way that engages modern learners. They deliver a flexible resource, available 24/7 across devices, that can be deployed and repurposed to provide the combination of key business and soft skills that aspiring and current leaders require.
Let’s investigate the key core competencies leaders need and discover what makes them so essential.
7 Key Competencies For Leaders
1. Effective Communication
Good leadership is impossible without effective communication skills. Creating and selling a vision, solving problems, implementing processes, managing people, driving innovation and change, all rely on efficient communication. This is, even more, the case when the people you lead are from diverse backgrounds with different levels of experience and may work remotely or in a different geographical region.
Clear communication promotes team building and collaboration. It’s vital for articulating your strategies and your decisions. But communication is a two-way street. While leaders need to be clear (across all mediums) about what they mean and want, they also need to listen.
Active listening involves responding sympathetically and demonstrating that you understand and take on board other voices. You need to be receptive as well as directive. Showing empathy towards others means you build trust. Trust and engagement help get your message across and means your plans and decisions are more likely to be implemented.
2. Building Your Leadership Style
Leaders need to acknowledge the increasing complexity of modern businesses and organizations. That external context affects how they lead. The traditional, autocratic leadership of the past is no longer fit for purpose in today’s more democratic environment where sharing knowledge is to the fore. A willingness to collaborate and openness to suggestions serve leaders better than single-minded initiatives.
Leaders need to manage people to get the best from them. Good leaders make the most of the talent around them, nurturing and developing individuals for mutual benefit. Leadership is a collective exercise promoting collaboration and feedback loops to create a team capable of facing challenges and accepting responsibilities. Decision-making and problem-solving are not the sole preserve of one person. Leadership requires a collective responsibility and true leaders create a cohort of people willing to adopt leadership roles in projects.
3. Developing People
All leadership ideas, strategies, and visions will come to nothing if you don’t have the people to implement them. And that’s not simply about having the numbers or relevant skill sets. Leaders need to actively manage and develop their teams. This means understanding their needs and ambitions, encouraging their contributions, and instilling a belief in what you’re trying to achieve and the confidence to do so.
Leaders who empower people are likely to be rewarded with greater productivity, higher-quality input and output, and better staff retention. Leading others means enabling them to realize their aspirations as well as your own.
4. Using Emotional Intelligence
You can’t manage and develop people properly or actively listen to their concerns if you don’t have a well-developed sense of emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence promotes self-awareness and a better understanding of what drives and motivates you.
But it also means developing the ability and techniques to understand and empathize with others. Emotional intelligence teaches you to reflect on your values and where you stand but also gives you the ability to put yourself in the shoes of others, to see matters from their point of view.
5. Managing Stress And Conflict
It’s a leader’s job to create a safe, healthy working environment to allow individuals to flourish and get the job done. It’s vital to manage stress and conflict effectively which if unaddressed will result in the loss of valuable individuals and days worked and reduced efficiency. Conflict and stress threaten the psychological health of the team and its ability to be productive.
Effective use of emotional intelligence can also strengthen resilience that militates against stress and conflict. That resilience will be required in times of rapid innovation and change where there is great uncertainty and upheaval.
6. Leading Innovation And Change
The one certainty of modern business seems to be that there is no certainty. Rapid technological change, not to mention the pandemic, are reminders of that. Yet, if change is unavoidable, we still have a choice about how we face it. The challenge is not simply to manage it but to lead it. Leaders need to be out in front of the changes coming and not be content to react adequately.
Courses can teach key skills showing you how to promote innovation and actively embrace change. It’s a question of adopting the right mindset, developing the antennae to perceive change, and creating a collaborative environment that encourages the sharing of ideas and the promotion of innovation. Leaders should encourage their teams to think differently and re-evaluate what they do to see if they can do it better. That means being aware of the latest technological tools on offer and examining the way they can be used to improve efficiency.
7. Leading Remote Teams
One of the great current challenges for modern leaders is how to manage teams that are remote. This can mean people who are working from home or a team of people in offices dotted around the globe. With remote working empathy and trust become even more critical. This requires relying on the same core leadership competencies such as communication, using emotional intelligence, and employing the right leadership styles. But remoteness brings an extra level of complexity: people are not always available for a quick word, you can’t read their body language, and the bonding of the team meeting is not so easy to achieve remotely.
Artful use of the same technology that enables remote working can also facilitate leading those remote workers. Regular, scheduled catch-ups on apps keep communication channels open, but these must be two-way to facilitate active listening. Make sure everyone is fluent in any new technology. Explore interactive features like polling or screen sharing to ensure that participation is high even though not everyone can be in the same room.
Delivering Skills And Competencies
As this review of competencies suggests modern leaders require a wide range of core skills. No single training course can deliver the breadth or depth of learning leaders require. E-learning catalogues that focus on individual skills within the broader context of leadership provide a good starting point for developing, upskilling and reskilling leaders. Because as much as leaders are required to develop others, they won’t be able to do that effectively if they don’t look after their own professional and personal development.
And acquiring the skills and competencies to lead is not a box-ticking exercise. Simply sitting through the courses isn’t enough. Skills need to be honed and practiced, so the learning that supports leadership development needs to be available where that happens – in the workflow.
You may be a leader of some experience, but you need to continue learning how to lead. Leaders need to benefit from and promote a culture of continuous learning driving L&D to employ regular analysis of skills gaps and recommend learning programs and assets that plug those gaps. With modern technology and platforms like LMSs and LXPs training resources can be quickly acquired, created, and delivered. These resources can be regularly updated and readily repurposed based on training needs and feedback from learners.
Download the eBook Leadership Training: How To Equip Leaders For Today’s Challenges And The Future to prepare your leadership team for what’s to come and build a successful culture of learning.