5 Skills All Leaders Need in the 21st Century

4 Skills All Leaders Need in the 21st Century

Being a leader in the 21st century presents new challenges and there are 5 skills all leaders need to be successful. 

We live in a fast moving and ever changing world where technology keeps us connected and interconnected to others in a way that wasn’t true even five years ago.  While technology can make us more effective, it brings its own set of challenges related to communication and building relationships and trust.

It’s a competitive world, where your mistakes are shared instantly with others.  Today we need leaders who are novel thinkers, willing to take risks, can inspire others and build relationships that form strategic alliances both inside and outside their companies. This means the skills leaders need to build are more in the human rather than tactical realm.  Those skills are part psychology, part cognitive and are truly about the way we chose to be in relationships with other human beings.

Here are 5 skills all leaders need to succeed in today’s business world.

Skill #1:  Consistency.  

Consistency in actions and behavior are critical.  

Decisions leaders make affect the business in many ways.  Most leaders are consistent but consistent about being inconsistent. Today you decide you are going to create a plan and stick to it and by the end of the week, you’ve forgotten you ever thought about planning.  Inconsistency is not a theme that makes for success. Inconsistency causes chaos. If you want greater success in your business, if you want to determine when things are not working and why, if you want to make decisions with good data and not just partial information or through emotions you have to start with consistency.

Skill #2:  Resiliency.  

Everyone makes mistakes.  

Big risks can produce big rewards, and it often comes with making lots of mistakes along the way.  I often talk to leaders about how it’s okay to use the ‘f’ word, failure.

Sure we all want things to go smoothly but the truth is they often don’t.  

When they don’t we label them as failures. Stop examining every action through the lens of success or failure and see them as learning opportunities.  Today’s leaders need to create a culture that allows for mistakes. These leaders understand that if there are no mistakes people aren’t taking risks. And they recognize that taking risks and making mistakes creates an opportunity for learning and that nothing new, creative, innovative or exciting happens without taking risks.

Skill #3:  Be comfortable with being uncomfortable. 

At times you will have to make decisions with a limited amount of information. 

We never know definitely if we are making the right decision in the moment, it’s often in hindsight that we are able to know if our decision was the right one. Opportunities will present themselves that require you to make a decision in what might seem like a blink of an eye. Thinking you will ever get comfortable and always know what to do is not the goal. Learning to be comfortable with being uncomfortable, and doing it anyway is what’s required for 21st-century leaders.

Skill #4:  Think different, be different. 

When looking for a path to success it’s easy to follow the steps others have taken. 

Worked for them so it makes sense that it would work for you took. But think about all the people who pushed the envelope, who were willing to think differently and be different, who didn’t listen to the naysayers and pushed forward anyhow. 

From Thomas Edison to the Wright Brothers to Steve Jobs, Jack Welch and Jeff Bezos and dozens of other examples, all trailblazers willing to think differently and created something spectacular that changed the world, or their companies.

Skill #5:  Be ethical and take the high road. 

When it comes to ethics we all want to believe we are ethical and that we apply those value to all situations. The reality is far different.  

There are so many opportunities to not be ethical and you won’t be found out that it’s easy to blur the line, and even convince ourselves in this situation it doesn’t matter. It always matters!  

In today’s world maintaining high ethical standards, and taking the high road even if would be easier not to matters more than ever, because within seconds, should someone find out you’ll see it blasted across the internet.

Developing these 5 skills all leaders need gives you more freedom, not less.  It tells people who you are and what you stand for. It allows you to share your vision and ideas and beliefs in a way that guides the organization and allows others to feel comfortable doing the same.  Mya Angelou said:

“ I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”  

In today’s crowded and competitive market you want to leave people feeling positive about you and connected to you.  Relationships are what will create a successful business, not simply what product or service you offer.  I suggest that you use this list of 5 skills all leaders need as a way to help you lead more effectively.

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