As we have witnessed in the past three years, leaders have shifted to rapidly respond, react and realign approaches to meet the needs of change. Change is not something new to leaders, but a change at this level of magnitude left leaders scrambling. We have not seen this level of change happen at his rapid domino pace.
What do we need from leaders based on the experiences from the past three years to prepare for our future? How can we be readily prepared for rapid changes? Can we give this some thought and reflect on what we have learned as we move forward?
Looking at, listening, and reading about companies, schools, and government issues, a great deal of work is needed to develop systems, procedures, and protocols. Many of the links in our chains did not seem to connect to meet the needs of those they served. Gaps were noticed, service was interrupted, and a clear need for improvements.
What skills do leaders need?
- Emotional and social intelligence: As we have learned, we have to navigate through and out of disruption and change at a rapid pace. Leaders need to be self-aware and be “team” aware regarding building emotional and social intelligence. “Social skills drive human innovation and knowledge.”-Team Emotional Intelligence 2.0, (Greaves, Watkins)
- Technology savvy: A leader does not need to know all aspects of technology, but they need to be able to utilize technology. Technology is critical in a world growing faster today than yesterday. Being digitally fluent and present in the technological world will be the key to unlocking the doors to communication, innovation, and creativity.
- Communication: This skill is changing the most as we move forward. Leaders need to be exceptional communicators to cut through the noise of the world to be heard, but at the same time listen to what is not being said. As we work with others, we need to listen more to what is not said, what is said and do more than hear. Communication is an action step to take.
- Solution-Focused: It is easy to point out problems but not as easy to point out solutions. Having a Solution-Focused mindset allows leaders to look at all possibilities in decision-making. Keeping up with trends, looking at the future, exploring options, and always seeking to find better ways keeps everyone moving forward.
- Coaching abilities: Leaders need to have the skills to help build up those they work with and to help them continue to grow. We need leaders who know how to appreciate, support, encourage, engage and develop others. One glove does not fit all and we need to approach our leadership with getting to know our staff. What are the needs each individual has, and what are their strengths? Praise them for their efforts and help them with what they want to improve.
- Authenticity: As we deal with change, we cannot change. What is meant by my statement? As a leader you must have a solid foundation you stand on with core values and beliefs. When the world is yelling louder, you cannot yell too! You have to be the calm in the sea of waves. If you are not consistent in what you are saying, stand for your beliefs and values, then those who follow you will begin to question you. When high waves come crashing in, they want you to be the calm to quiet the sea. Being true to who you are, demonstrates integrity, trust, and consistency.