Technology is part of everyday life. We can connect – all across the world – in a click. Technology makes it easy to communicate and collaborate – no matter where you are. Just think where it could take us next.

But no matter how advanced technology becomes – we mustn’t forget the importance of people skills – and the difference good leadership practices make. You can’t advance if there’s nowhere to go and no one to lead you there.

We take a look at the leadership skills that are key to leading in the digital age – and how you can learn these skills to future proof your career.

What makes you a leader?

There are certain people in our life that we would call a leader. But why? A leader will:

  • Own their actions
  • Know their purpose
  • Know where they’re headed
  • Continue to learn and grow
  • Have empathy
  • Be inspiring and empower others
  • Succeed together

Owning their actions

A leader will take responsibility. They’ll act on what is best for the organisation they work for – and have a strategy to be successful, that works with the organisation’s culture. They’ll take responsibility for guiding others. And they’ll take responsibility for their own decisions – always with a better future in mind. [1]

Knowing their purpose

A leader must know what their organisation’s purpose is – what its mission is. Knowing it inside and out will help them guide business decisions. They must help others understand their mission too. Always keeping in mind that it’s important to let people know ‘why’ decisions are made, not just ‘what’ is changing.

Know where they’re headed

A leader should know where they want to go. They’ll be clear on where their organisation is going in the future. Their vision will be carefully planned – and their ideas will be backed up with evidence. They’ll analyse market trends and the latest technological innovations to see where they want to go.

Continuing to learn and grow

No leader is born perfect. They need to understand their own strengths and weaknesses. Why? Being aware of your weaknesses helps you find areas to focus on – leading to true growth. [2]

And, not being too proud to learn from your errors is also vital to grow. Not only that, it sends a very powerful message to those around you – they’ll know that you’ll lead, even through failure.

Understanding your own skills, weaknesses and emotions will also improve your emotional intelligence and empathy towards other people – another important characteristic of a leader.

Having empathy

A leader should have high emotional intelligence (the ability to be aware of your own emotions, and to empathise with other people’s emotions). Why does that help you lead? You’ll be able to deal with challenging, conflict situations objectively – without getting caught up in the emotions yourself. And it’ll help you get to the bottom of the reason behind any issues. A leader that can sense how other people feel, will be able to communicate better, strengthen their team – and be more likely to inspire changes in behaviour.

Inspiring and empowering others

Inspiring and empowering other people (whether they are your colleagues, peers or family) are vital skills for a leader. It’s just as important to develop the skills of the people around you – and empower their career – as it is to do these things for yourself. If you can ‘walk the walk’ and lead by example, it will inspire others around you to behave in a similar way – and grow their own skills.

Succeeding together

Succeeding at something new is often associated with becoming ‘more independent’ – from the very beginning of life we learn to walk, dress ourselves, feed ourselves – to ‘grow up’ and do more on our own. But being a leader isn’t about your own successes. A leader succeeds with their team. This is a huge shift from what we’re used to – an independent ‘I can do it’ mind-set to an interdependent ‘we can do it’ mind-set. But this shift will ingrain confidence in yourself and, most importantly, in other people around you. A team that fine tunes interdependence, perform at a higher level, and are likely to build better business relationships[3].

Can you learn to lead?

Leadership skills can in fact be learned, taught and improved – just like any other skill. You can learn the theory and best practices behind being a leader in a training programme. But, it’s (obviously) not as simple as learning and following steps 1-3. As with most non-technical skills, the main challenge is developing the right personal qualities for leadership – and applying these skills – which takes time.

A leader will actively want to take responsibility for making good things happen – by working with others – and learning from their failures. This is why leaders learn, see and do more with their careers – and even their personal lives. It does take time and effort to improve your leadership skills – but by understanding your strengths and weaknesses you will focus your learning, and grow.

The pay off

And the time and effort does pay off. Without great leaders, great organisations wouldn’t exist. We wouldn’t see rapid advances in technology – we wouldn’t be changing how the world works together.

Great organisations understand this – and encourage their leaders to develop their skills. Great leadership creates long-term success – and this success is infectious. It creates high moral and a high rate of employee retention – by promoting a positive attitude to work, and helping people to max-out their productivity. [4]

Want to strengthen your leadership skills? Check out our leadership courses.

 

[1] NEJM Catalyst: The Importance of Leadership to Organisational Success [2017]

[2] Tony Robbins: 7 Ways to Improve Leadership Skills

[3] Kate Nasser:  People Skills: Essential Believes to Achieve Interdependence [2013]

[4] Career Trend: Why Is Good Leadership Important? [2018]

 

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