In the last few years, global changes have had a profound impact on organisations and many companies have been forced into uncharted territory. The importance of leadership talent is now being realized, and many businesses are investing heavily in developing their existing leaders, as well as hiring those with leadership potential from outside.
These proactive measures indicate that there are three key messages about leadership talent:
- The key enabler of any organisation is its leadership talent
- The last true competitive advantage is the quality of leaders in a business
- Leadership talent drives business performance
On closer examination, even though the topic of leadership occupies a considerable amount of writing and discussion, there is not a distinct definition. There is apparent confusion about the terms leadership and management because the two terms are often interchanged. Whereas management is about administration – planning, organizing, directing and controlling the use of resources – leadership is more concerned with enabling people.
Leadership skills come from within a person. They are ‘soft skill’s such as:
- Self-awareness – knowing yourself, how you come across to other people and your impact on them
- Empowering people – whether you genuinely care about and enable others to get things done
- Developing others – mentoring others and providing opportunities for them to learn
- Challenging the status quo – actively embracing change and envisioning better ways to do things
- Communication skills – listening, speaking and keeping others informed
- Making people accountable – having the courage and ability to tackle the tough issues
- Giving feedback – on an ongoing basis so people can learn and grow
Anyone can be a leader, not just those people assigned to a formal management role. Unlike the theories of old that believed only certain people were born to be leaders, the good news is that leadership skills can be developed. This is important because not everyone is born talented in leading the way for others, and even those who are already leaders, can develop their skills further.
In the modern workplace, one thing that can be agreed upon. There are numerous people challenges at all levels of an organisation that need talented leaders to help others, no matter whether they are in an assigned role or not. Changing demographics such as ageing workforces, cultural diversity and casualization of the workforce, make the need for talented leaders, to guide, show and nurture people in the workplace, even more crucial than ever before.
Leadership skills have a profound effect on how people feel about working in a certain place. Good or bad leadership skills are remembered for a long time. If you are in a formal role of authority or if you are starting out in your career, undertaking an audit of your own seven leadership talents from the list above, will give you an idea of where you need to develop further.
Leadership skills are owned by everyone so it’s important to think about how you can develop your own leadership skills if you plan to develop your career further.