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13 Critical Skills All Business Leaders Need To Cultivate Today

Expert Panel, Forbes Coaches Council | Source

In a tumultuous business environment, the most successful leaders focus on constantly evolving their skill sets, stoking a passion for lifelong learning. As business leaders and owners around the world face unpredictable circumstances and unprecedented challenges, many may come to find that the skills that helped them get to where they are will no longer suffice.

We asked members of Forbes Coaches Council what they view as the most important skill that all business leaders, regardless of industry, need to work on now. Read 13 of their expert insights below to ensure that you hone the leadership skills you need to carry you and your team through today’s turbulence and into a strong tomorrow.

Forbes Coaches Council members discuss the most important skills that all business leaders should foster in themselves.


1. Establishing Boundaries

Having boundaries shows that you respect yourself and others. Setting and maintaining healthy boundaries may cause dissension in the short term, but it builds trust in the long term with most people. Keeping boundaries means taking responsibility for yourself while respecting others’ humanity. Structure frees you to be true to yourself under pressure and helps you avoid pressuring others under difficult circumstances. - Divya Parekh, DP Group

2. Executive Reflection

As John F. Kennedy said, “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” Executive reflection is the most important skill for executives and business owners to learn. It requires leaders to take a planned pause to think, reflect and critically explore their actions, decisions and communications in order to contemplate the best way to navigate the whitewater rapids of these uncertain times. - Angela Cusack, Igniting Success

3. Fighting Spirit

Access your fighting spirit. As business leaders, we know how valuable empathy, collaboration and communication are. But sometimes we have to focus and show teeth. Remember your power and fight for what you want for your team, family and yourself. - Ruben Crawford, Empowertale Ltd

4. Focus

Having coached across many different regions and industries, I’ve seen the No. 1 skill that business leaders need to work on is focus. Both Warren Buffet and Bill Gates would claim that this is what led to their unbridled success. To develop focus, one must have a definite purpose; although plans may change, the overall purpose does not. Learning to say no quickly and often is also required. - Linda Martin, Levelup-global

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5. Storytelling

Every business owner should be able to tell a transformational story about the customer as a hero in a movie, with their product or service as a “guide” to the promised land. Steve Jobs was an expert storyteller, and the DNA of that still lives in the Apple brand. Elon Musk is a great storyteller, and so is Warren Buffett. - Mike Koenigs, The Superpower Accelerator

6. Listening

Given the quick pace of change, technological insights, artificial intelligence and an influx of information, leaders often operate with their own “sixth sense.” No matter the data or gut feeling, take the time to listen to your staff, customers, contractors and potential clients. Once you listen, then figure out what to do with the information as a next step toward action. - Joanne Markow, GreenMason

7. Social Solving

Social solving is the newest leadership competency needed to navigate the volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (or VUCA) of a disruptive environment. Great leaders understand the power of diverse groups to quickly understand the context and communicate necessary change to thwart the increasingly disruptive challenges organizations face. - Brad Cousins, Ingage Human Capital Strategies

8. Humility

Let go of your ego. Leaders usually become leaders because they are excellent individual contributors who are so good at what they do that they are continually promoted. It’s normal, then, to feel as if you know exactly what must be done, that your ideas are the right ones and that you have all of the answers. However, it’s that exact attitude that will cause you to fail as a leader. Be humble; be open. - Cheryl Czach, Cheryl Czach Coaching and Consulting, LLC

9. Systems Thinking

Modern leaders need to be excellent systems thinkers if they want their organizations to be agile enough to stay competitive amidst a rapidly shifting technological, socioeconomic and geopolitical landscape. The challenges facing organizations today are complex, and leaders need to take a cross-functional, multidisciplinary approach to addressing root aspects of key challenges and opportunities. - Jonathan H. Westover, Ph.D, Utah Valley University & Human Capital Innovations, LLC

10. Empathy

Truly understanding another person’s situation without necessarily experiencing it takes skill, heart, desire and intention. With empathy, a leader can build deeper bridges to trust. With trust, your leadership and team foundations are set up for accountability and to achieve results. Healthy relationships in teams create high performance and highly engaged team members. - Shelley Smith, Premier Rapport

11. Resilience

Resilience is an inner tool that helps you quickly recover from setbacks, challenges or losses. Business leaders who lack resilience feel overwhelmed, dwell on problems and often end up feeling like victims. Resilience won’t make life perfect, but it will help you see past any misfortune and honor the times of struggle. The best news? Resilience is a skill that can and should be developed. - Mari Carmen Pizarro, Whole Leadership Systems

12. Perspective-Taking

It may not be a “skill” we hear about often, but putting yourself in the client, user, consumer or other person’s shoes (or situation) can make life and business go much smoother. Don’t just see things from your side of the table; move around, change seats, open your mind and heart to other points of view and watch your business soar! - Miranda VonFricken, Miranda VonFricken - Masterminds & Personal Growth Coaching!

13. Curiosity About Others

Curiosity about other human beings you work with is key. We talk about soft skills in general, but the one that makes the most impact for me is the ability to be other-centered instead of self-centered. To interact with the world with the self in the center is normal, but exceptional leaders grow their curiosity to understand others intimately. - Chuen Chuen Yeo, ACESENCE

Article: ©2020 Forbes Media LLC. All Rights Reserved.


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