Despite the undeniable impact of sound leadership on the success of any organisation, there remains an apparent lack of understanding when it comes to the specific core competencies every leader ought to prioritise while carrying out their professional responsibilities. To be clear, this does not mean these leaders are wholly unfit or ineffective; instead, it only indicates that these professionals have not yet maximised their own potential or the potential of the organisation they are charged with leading.
Developing a better understanding of the most critical leadership competencies not only benefits those in current leadership positions, as the next generation of leaders — many of whom are already seeking mentors in preparation for future leadership roles — will encounter all kinds of new opportunities and challenges demanding exceptional leadership built on a foundation of several especially important competencies. In the sections that follow, we’ll explain why the next generation of leaders will:
- Act according to consistent ethical and moral standards
- Communicate clearly and listen attentively
- Empower team members and demonstrate respect and trust for other
- Emphasise company culture by highlighting shared values, goals, and objectives
- Maintain the flexibility necessary to change course and remain receptive to new ideas
- Demonstrate a commitment to professional development of employees
- Create an environment conducive to innovation
In discussing these seven competencies for the next generation of leaders, it is worth noting how each competency allows leaders to be themselves by leveraging their individual strengths while minimising their individual weaknesses. The same can be said of those working under the guidance of these leaders, as these competencies are designed with the goal of maximising the contributions made by those at every level of an organisation, thereby turn ensuring that the organisation ultimately realises its own potential over both the short and long term.
1. Act According to Consistent Ethical and Moral Standards
Leaders are expected to make decisions that closely align with the company’s specific goals and objectives, requiring a commitment to fairness and objectivity. With a set of clearly defined ethical and moral standards in place, leaders are much more likely to make unbiased and objective decisions, engendering a deep sense of trust and loyalty from team members.
When organisational leaders act according to a consistent set of ethical and moral standards — which means that all decisions are based on logical, reasoned analysis — employees believe they will be treated fairly by leaders and have no reason to feel burdened by uncertainty, which in turn encourages a greater level of creativity and productivity from team members.
2. Communicate Clearly and Listen Attentively
Effective leadership is undermined by communication lacking in clarity, so it is incumbent upon those in leadership positions to communicate clearly and consistently in every interaction. Team members are far more efficient and productive when they can count on leaders to issue clear and easily understood directives. Team members are also more likely to carry out their responsibilities with a greater level of confidence, promoting the kind of creativity and collaboration that leads to innovation.
While a consistent focus on clarity in communication reduces the likelihood of a misunderstanding or miscommunication, it does not necessarily eliminate the possibility in its entirety. This is why the most effective leaders also make a point to attentively listen to questions or concerns from team members, as every team member should feel comfortable enough to clarify a directive without fear of reproach from leadership for doing so.
3. Empower Team Members, Demonstrating Respect and Trust for Others
The second competency concerning clarity of communication also plays a role in empowering team members to think independently and to take action benefiting the organisation and its goals. In addition to issuing clear directives, the best leaders actively empower employees and recognise that any form of micromanagement betrays a lack of trust in the abilities of team members. Empowering employees with autonomy over key responsibilities, on the other hand, highlights how a leader trusts and respects the intelligence and competence of their employees.
4. Emphasise Culture by Highlighting Shared Values, Goals, and Objectives
With a strong company culture that highlights a shared set of values as well as a common set of goals and objectives, employees are much likelier to feel invested in the organisation’s success and to feel a sense of connection with their colleagues as well. It is for this reason that the most effective leaders understand how to highlight specific company values, goals, or objectives in a way that unites employees and ensures everyone is on the same page.
5. Maintain Flexibility to Change Course and Remain Receptive to New Ideas
In order to get the most out of their employees, leaders must be willing to accept that not every decision leads to a positive outcome. In these circumstances, leaders must not only be flexible enough to change course if it benefits the organisation; they must also be receptive to the ideas and opinions shared by team members.
Unfortunately, many leaders worry— incorrectly, of course— that changing course or asking others for assistance might be perceived as a sign of weakness, but doing so is actually a sign of strength. Confident leaders are able to admit when they are wrong and consider new ideas based on the merit, not the source, of an idea.
6. Demonstrate a Commitment to the Professional Development of Team Members
Team members are more likely to work harder and remain loyal to an organisation that demonstrates a commitment to helping employees flourish as professionals through professional development opportunities. The most effective leaders work to create mutually beneficial relationships with employees by encouraging growth and professional development at every opportunity.
7. Create an Environment Conducive to Innovation
Each of the six previous competencies ensure employees are empowered to act autonomously and encouraged to engage in creative collaboration with others. These competencies also ensure employees feel valued by organisational leadership and feel invested in the company’s achievements, outcomes that are necessary when creating an environment conducive to innovation. In addition to developing an understanding of the most critical leadership competencies, the next generation of leaders will have to put in a great deal of time and effort to create an innovative work environment, but the benefits yielded by the establishment of such an environment are undeniably worthwhile.
Imagine what your team could accomplish!
Creative Commons image courtesy Gratisography.