Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Peirce Leadership Series: Business Leadership skills for the 21st Century

This post is part 1 in our Leadership Series examining what it takes to be a leader in today’s quickly evolving workforce.

As the pace of change continues to accelerate, new leadership skills are emerging and becoming increasingly important in today’s business environment.  Success will require a combination of traditional leadership with the adoption of the modern skills needed in the 21st century workforce.

No matter what industry you are looking to work in, you can begin now to take steps to develop your leadership potential. The first step is understanding what skills are needed. Below we discuss three that are common among today’s successful leaders.

Adaptability

If there is one word to describe what is happening in today’s business climate, it is “change.” The recession caused many companies to downsize or reorganize while technology and new start-ups are disruptive forces that require companies to constantly innovate in order to stay relevant.
In many cases, being able to adapt quickly is one of the key differences between success and failure. Think about it. What do Kodak, Blockbuster, and Borders have in common? Their inability to adapt when faced with disruptive market forces was the primary reason they went out of business or lost significant market share.

Although change can be challenging for everyone involved, it also presents opportunities for leaders who can guide their employees through change and help the organization adapt more quickly. As a leader, you will need to be flexible, to be able to identify opportunities, and to inspire employees to take the action needed to seize these opportunities

Innovation

As Steve Jobs stated, “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.”  That has never been truer than it is today.

The pace of innovation in the marketplace requires leaders to not only adapt, but create new opportunities to stay ahead of their competitors. As a result, many leaders are becoming more “entrepreneurial” in their approach to innovation.  They are always looking for new opportunities to improve, create, and keep customers satisfied.

Effective leaders realize that innovation does not come from a single person. They leverage the collective creative capacity of their employees, partners, suppliers, and the feedback of their customers when looking for new and better ways of achieving their mission. They strive to build a culture that fosters the creativity needed for innovation.

Collaboration

Whether your smartphone, your favorite social network, or the latest technology, it is safe to say there was an entire team that helped to make that product successful. While teamwork has always been important in the workplace, the level of collaboration that must take place will continue to increase as more sophisticated products are introduced to increasingly sophisticated consumers.
Rather than just working within a team based on their organizational function, effective leaders are bringing together employees with different skill sets, experiences, and unique perspectives and uniting them under one common goal. They encourage each employee to voice their ideas and solutions. They must develop the ability to recognize and develop an array of talented individuals, and build teams that bring these diverse talents together. 

Today’s leaders understand their development is an ongoing process. They constantly try to improve their leadership skills and are always eager to learn. Of course the three skills shared here will not be the only ones you will find useful. As the business climate continues to change, so will the skills you will need to be successful. If you are interested in learning more about preparing for leadership in the workplace, take a look at our Bachelor Science in Integrated Leadership and Master of Science inOrganizational Leadership and Management programs. They are specifically designed to equip you with the knowledge needed to succeed in a leadership role.