The Best Leadership Skills May Not Be the Ones You Think
Traditional ‘command and control’-style leadership is not only unhelpful, it can be counterproductive.
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Which skills should people develop in order to become more successful leaders? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.
Individuals and organizations benefit from embracing a leadership style based on a new mindset, part of 'The Management Shift'. In this approach, leaders strive to serve, to inspire others to find the purpose and calling in the work they do, to unleash their passion and creativity, and to use all internal resources and intrinsic motivation to provide exceptional service. They should also coach, mentor and provide enabling conditions for others to emerge as natural leaders and make decisions when they have most relevant knowledge to do so.
New leaders should be exemplars of honesty, integrity, humility, transparency and compassion. As Stephen Covey puts it in his book 'The 8th Habit', leaders should find their unique human voice by helping others to find theirs. They should also inspire others to achieve their full potential as described by John Quincy Adams: 'If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.'
Traditional 'command and control'-style leadership is not only unhelpful, it can be counterproductive, causing companies to lose their ability to create value, to innovate and stay competitive. There is a growing body of researchshowing that traditional leadership styles are inadequate for leading knowledge workers and they stifle creativity, motivation and engagement. Professor Richard Roberts' study on the causes of financial crisis showed that hubristic, autocratic or even bullying leaders constituted one of the main causes of the financial meltdown in 2008 and earlier.
As Gary Hamel argues in his inspirational book 'What Matters Now', obedience, diligence and knowledge can be bought relatively easily; they are becoming global commodities. However, to ignite the value-creating gifts of employees' initiative, creativity and passion, leaders will have to create inspiring working environments. Without initiative, people will not go an extra mile to do the best work they can; without creativity they will not challenge conventional wisdom and be innovative, and without passion they will not see their work as calling to make a positive difference in the world.
A summary of the key skills for leaders in the Fourth Industrial Revolution include:
Emotional intelligence, social intelligence, communication skills, team working skills, problem solving, creativity, time management etc. are crucial for a successful leader. Some specific examples include humility, authenticity, compassion, agility etc. Leadership is about inspiring people to ignite their passion for work, and these skills can help achieve this.
Covey S. (2004) The 8th Habit, Free Press/ Simon & Schuster Inc.: New York
Amar A.D. and Hlupic V. (2012) Synthesizing Knowledge to develop Leadership for Managing in Knowledge Organisations, presented at the Academy of Management Conference, Boston August 2012.
Richard Roberts (2012) 'Did anyone learn anything from the Equitable Life? - Lessons and learning from financial crises', Institute of Contemporary British History, King's College London.:
Hamel G. (2012) What Matters Now: How to Win in a World of Relentless Change, Ferocious Competition, and Unstoppable Innovation, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco.
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