No doubt, business leaders infinitely aware of the importance of developing leadership capacity to ensure the long-term success of their organizations. There is no end of books and articles on how to improve leadership skills. And there are endless (conflicting, changing….) opinions about what are the most important leadership skills. So where do organizations and individuals start to develop leadership skills? How do you know which skills are most important for your organization – now and in the future?
The Relationship of Leadership Skills and Business Performance
Building leadership skills is an area where I have been putting a lot of research and focus lately to help clients set priorities. Here are some links which you may find helpful for background.
- In a previous article, I have introduced some criteria to consider with regard to succession planning to ensure leadership skills for the future.
2. I have also talked about how an individual might set priorities on developing their strategic leadership skills, including some criteria for self assessment.
3. And for a broader, national perspective, I’ve discussed a strategic analysis of future leadership skills most needed in Canada, based on economic, social and demographic trends.
But as someone that teaches the principles of strategic planning – success is best achieved by building on unique and valuable strengths. This holds true for both the organization and individuals. Therefore, to truly improve leadership skills in the workplace, we must be aware of 1) the core competencies of the organization 2) the individual competencies which build and support the organizational competencies.
Are the latest leadership trends really what’s best for you?
Unfortunately, we often get swayed by the latest trends and headlines. As a result, we may try to gain leadership skills that might not be the best ones for us. And while it’s never “bad” to develop a wide range of leadership skills – we often have limited resources to work within. Therefore, you realize much greater benefit when you can focus your resources on a few core competencies.
Consider that we often have a picture of great leaders as inspiring, gregarious sorts that can get people motivated with enthusiastic speeches. We may believe that a great leader needs to be an extrovert and have a lot of charism. But in his book Good to Great, author Jim Collins introduces research that demonstrates something quite different. In fact, leaders that have transformed companies from good to great have often been humble and unassuming individuals. Their strength is in their unstoppable determination.
This reinforces that we can’t make assumptions about how to improve leadership skills. We first need to truly understand our strengths, and then determine how we can build on those. And organizations need people with a variety of strengths and perspectives to ensure long term success. Obviously, it takes some time and effort to recognize and define our unique strengths. And some thought on how we develop and improve leadership skills based on those strengths. But the end result is a solid foundation that will serve you for the future.
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