12 Essential Skills for 21st Century Leaders

A Guide to Soft Skills for Modern Day Leaders

What is 21st century leadership?

Leadership in the modern world is a lot more than just giving commands and expecting people to follow. The new generation of leaders needs to be more human, empathetic, and aware of the needs of the people they lead.

What Makes a Great 21st Century Leader?

20th century leadership skills are no longer sufficient for 21st century leadership. Today’s leaders require different qualities from their predecessors.

Leaders of today should be much more invested in their people. They should focus on developing a powerful sense of trust with their team, building a culture of authentic communication, and practicing self-awareness.

Leadership is not about position. It is about inspiring and influencing people around you to be a reflection of you. Developing these twelve 21st century leadership competencies is key to success for modern day leaders.

  1. Know How to Communicate Effectively

The ability to communicate effectively is the key to success in any field. Effective communication skills will help you in the management team, in your relationships with colleagues and friends, and in leading high-performing teams.

  1. Become a Strong and Ethical Leader

Leaders are defined by their actions, followers are defined by their reactions to those actions. A good leader is selfless, has strong values and ethics, is open-minded, understanding of others who are different from themselves, and has a clear vision for what they want to accomplish.

  1. Be Creative and Innovative

Creativity is a key component of innovation and critical for competitiveness. It’s essential for forward-thinking, future-based organizations that want to create new markets and disrupt industries that may be out of date or stagnant.

  1. Cultivate an Open Mindset and Embrace Change

When we think of change, we usually view it as a stressful experience. However, accepting and embracing change is an important part of life. The first step in this process is to cultivate an open mindset and become more accepting of innovative ideas and perspectives. This is not easy, but it can be done by exposing yourself to different people and ways of thinking every day.

  1. Design an Adaptable Leadership Style That Suits Your Core Values

We should not expect there to be one type of leadership that will work in every situation or with every person or group of people that they encounter. A good leader can adapt leadership style to exert maximum influence as circumstances dictate.

  1. Become a Skilled Negotiator to Manage Conflict

The process of negotiating can be thought of as a creative art form that is different for every individual and every situation. A skilled negotiator must have a lot of relevant skills, but it all starts with the ability to read people and understand the interests behind their words. Learning how to read body language can also help a lot, as it will show how they feel about what you are proposing to them.

  1. Develop Complex Problem-Solving in a Changing World

Problem-solving is becoming a cross-disciplinary activity. In addition to analyzing and synthesizing information from various disciplines, leaders need to collaborate with other executives and different teams.

  1. Understand the Power of Information

In the digital era, the amount of information available is so vast that it becomes difficult to keep track of everything. And while this is true for everyone, leaders are at the forefront of this trend. You must use intelligence and intuition to separate the relevant from the irrelevant.

  1. Be a Relationship Builder

It is not enough for leaders to be knowledgeable in their field – they also need to be able to socialize and connect with other people to best serve their team. 

  1. Develop a vision to lead in the 21st century

Modern leaders must create a compelling and inspiring vision that can be shared with employees and other stakeholders. This allows the leader to translate that vision into a team-driven strategy that will lead to success. 

  1. Be a Constant and Consistent Collaborator

You will never be smarter than the room. So go into meetings with an open mind, and a willingness to listen and learn from those around you.

  1. Learn from Other Generations and Other Cultures

The more you understand how other people think and feel, the better you’ll be at understanding different perspectives and solving problems.

Prepare Yourself for the Future of Leadership

Leadership has changed drastically in the 21st century. The top skills that are needed for any successful leader are no longer technical skills, but soft skills.

The most important thing that we can do as leaders in the modern world is to prepare ourselves with the right knowledge and skills so we can adapt to any new situation and be future-ready leaders.

We need to strengthen our leadership skills, so we don’t lose touch with our organizations, colleagues, and employees as business continues to evolve.

For more insight into developing your leadership skills for the 21st century, visit our communication shorts.

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