15 skills you need to be a contemporary leader

Want to be an effective contemporary leader? Here are 15 skills you need.

Leadership skills can consist of business skills, communication skills, and soft skills. They can help you in all aspects of your career whether you’re a budding entrepreneur or looking to develop professionally in your current job.

Modern leaders need communication abilities in order to deal with colleagues and employees so many look to professional Communication Coaching to help them speak with power, precision, and purpose. The main focus is on transparency, empathy, and listening skills.

It’s also important to have a strong business vision in order to be an inspiring leader and have the drive to empower others. Here are fifteen skills you need to be a contemporary leader.

1) A strong vision

To be a successful leader you need to develop leadership vision in both yourself and the company. This needs to be a vivid idea of where you want to be personally at a particular point in the future based on your goals and aspirations.

If you run your own business, you need to have clear aspirations for the company and be able to communicate these to ensure your employees are aware of how the success of the business will benefit them.

2) Transparency

Nowadays, there is a strong focus on the importance of transparency in leadership. As a transparent leader, you need to set an example and practise what you preach.

You also need the willingness to be completely honest with your employees about the current state of the business and any other aspects that may affect them. This helps to boost your reputation as a leader.

3) Listening skills

Communication skills are also key to becoming a contemporary leader. One way you can be a better communicator is to improve your listening skills.

Listen to the goals and concerns of your employees and go above and beyond to take these on board. Leaders that prove themselves to be good listeners are more able to create mutually trusting relationships with both employees and clients.

4) Creativity

Creativity is one of the valuable life skillsthat makes a successful leader. It’s important to focus on your strengths and talents and optimise these to grow professionally. Creativity is a useful skill for entrepreneurs.

It’s also important to create conditions that promote creativity among colleagues and employees in order to work collaboratively and come up with innovative ideas.

5) Empathy

There are several reasons why empathy is important in leaders right now. Many employees are facing more challenging situations and managers need to be flexible and more focused on individual needs.

By leading with empathy, you will have more success in engaging and motivating your employees. This also helps to boost workplace morale. 

6) Negotiation

Negotiation skills are also useful to contemporary leaders. There are different scenarios in which leaders need negotiation skills. These can include making deals with clients, delegating tasks, allocating resources to employees, and dealing with conflict at work.

Negotiation skills will give you the ability to resolve many situations by making offers that satisfied each party involved, whether they’re employees, clients, or other stakeholders.

7) Business storytelling

Business storytelling is as important to sales and marketing as negotiation. It’s a technique that allows you to portray several aspects of your business including its mission, benefits, skillset, and portfolio. Storytelling is an effective sales marketing tool because it appeals to people’s emotions.

This type of skill is also useful in many other business scenarios. Every business has a story to tell, and it will help to humanise your brand. If you need help in telling your business’s story to either potential clients or employees, here is a guide to business storytelling

8) Empowering with technology

As a contemporary leader, you also need to be equipped to empower employees through technology. Advances in technology have made it easier for many businesses to survive the work from home transition and the implementation of the right tools can help to boost both productivity and collaboration.

In order to empower your employees with technology, you need to provide solutions that make their lives easier. Consolidate and simplify your approach with collaboration tools allowing staff to share documents and attend meetings remotely. You could also offer more flexible timetables seen as technology allows team members to contribute any time, anywhere.

You could also rely on AI technology and automation to improve productivity. There are also plenty of apps and specialised software programmes that help to streamline business processes. This will inspire your team to focus on the job at hand.

9) The ability to encourage and inspire

An inspirational leader needs to have the skills to encourage others in their own professional development. It’s also important to demonstrate the qualities that create respect in your employees such as passion, purpose, and dedication.

You need to prove these in your actions every day rather than just giving sermons and delegating. If you lead by example you will actively inspire your staff to follow. 

Listening is also vital in order to encourage and inspire your team. You need to make room for the other members of staff to contribute to your vision, mission, goals, and action plan. Respect their opinions and take them into consideration and always be approachable as a manager. 

10) Learning and professional development

As well as inspiring and encouraging others, lead by example by continuing to focus on your own learning and professional development. Look into ways you can upskill, such as taking a course at RMIT Online, or volunteering for other training programmes at work.

These types of courses will only aid you in further developing your leadership skills. You will also be setting an example of how your staff can progress if they focus more on their own development. Always encourage learning in the workplace for both yourself and your colleagues. 

11) Project planning and management

Leaders also need to have a good understanding of project planning and management. Leadership is one of the fundamentals in project management, so even if this isn’t specifically your role, they do go hand in hand.

You need to develop the skills to supervise other people’s work and provide support according to things like timescales, resources, and the delegation of tasks.

A deeper knowledge of how projects are carried out in this way will further teach you how to prioritise as a manager. Project leaders themselves also need to build up a combination of business, technical, and people skills.

12) Giving constructive criticism

Another essential communication skills all leaders need is the ability to give constructive feedback in the workplace. Many people can find this challenging, however, particularly when they need to give negative feedback.

Try to offer a balance between positive and negative comments and offer solutions to any weaknesses or setbacks. It’s important to give your staff something to work on. Don’t shy away from commenting on specific areas of their work that need improvement, but set them clear goals and arrange follow-up feedback sessions to check their progress. 

When giving constructive criticism, think about your body language and tone of voice. Do it in a one-to-one setting rather than in a group conversation. Aim to provide consistent and timely feedback. Your employees will appreciate it whether it’s positive or negative and this will help to further motivate them at work. 

13) Recruitment skills

If you’re running your own small business or start-up there are also must-have recruitment skillsyou’ll need. You can outsource your recruitment in larger companies, but it’s a good idea to have a clear understanding of how it works.

Contemporary leaders are more hands-on as a general approach, so get involved in the hiring process. This way you’ll have more opportunities to meet candidates and determine the right person for the job. It also makes a good impression on future employees if you’re approachable in your attitude towards their training and initiation.

14) The ability to establish boundaries

Whereas contemporary leaders need to be hands-on, it’s still necessary to set and maintain healthy boundaries. You need to clearly define boundaries and your role as a leader.

Always model appropriate behaviours and respect the boundaries of others. Even though you may have a friendly approach towards your staff, you still need to establish the fact that you’re their employee and maintain an air of professionalism. 

15) Decision-making

It’s important to develop decision-making skills for successful leaders. You need the ability to evaluate risks and opportunities and be committed to achieving both business and personal goals. The more responsibility you gain as a leader, the more likely you’ll have to face high-pressure situations, deadlines, budget issues, and complicated circumstances. 

Nowadays, it’s essential for leaders to be able to communicate well, motivate their team, and develop problem-solving skills in an ever-changing workplace. Soft skills are often more relevant to leadership roles than technical know-how, and it’s important to work on these.

Your leadership skills can develop at an early stage in your career, so even if you haven’t been in charge before, this doesn’t mean you haven’t been learning how to be a successful leader.

Leverage the skills you do have and continue to focus on professional development. By doing this, you’re more likely to achieve a leadership role in the future.  

Photo by Semina Psichogiopoulou