The Super Six: Skills you must expand to survive (Upside-down Leader Series)

leaderThis post wraps up our short series on Upside Down Leadership.  The past two weeks we have talked about the circumstances faced business leaders today.  Week One’s article shared some current voluntary turnover statistics that may take some businesses by surprise.

In last week’s post, we began to debunk the way in which many organizations place folks into various roles of influence.  And more importantly, the flawed logic in this approach.

So if we agree that a new set of leadership skills are necessary in today’s organization, what are they and how do they or will they ensure success?  There are many skills every leader must pursue mastery.  However, these six skills – when applied – will create the driving change your organization likely needs.

Strategic and operational agility
This skill represents that important blend of leading and managing.  Your team must hear from you where the organization is going in the future.  It reinforces they too have a future with you.  So the balance requires you to also connect the longer-term with the “here and now”.  Help them connect what they do each day links to the great organization.

Transparent communication
We live in a 24/7 connected world.  With a 140-character tweet, your customers can influence new fans or critics of your business.  This new world requires a new level of transparency for leaders.  Ensure what you say the company stands for is indeed true.  Employees and customers are evaluating how these two align.  Another aspect of transparency also requires leaders to be honest about challenges facing the organization.  Help your team know how they can really make a difference.

Emotional intelligence
Connect with your team.  This skill puts the relational aspects of your leadership to the test.  The more you know and lead to the key motivators and de-motivators for every member of the team directly correlates to their personal connection to you.  At the end of the day, employees do not leave organizations; they leave people.

Commit to continuous improvement
This skill looks great on paper but is much more difficult to consistently put into practice.  To commit to continuous improvement means three things occur:  I get better; you get better; and as the result, we get better.  The natural outflow of a leader improving his/her skills will be seen as they help each member of the team improve.  As each member of the team improves in some way, the team will naturally get stronger and improve.  What your “stop doing” lists?  What are the 3 greatest areas of improvement? What does one degree in efficiency and/or effectiveness look like for your team?

Crucial conversations
This communication skill focuses on your ability to deliver effective feedback to your team.  In a time where most companies are doing more with less, it is critical that every member of your team is performing at best.  Does EVERY member of the team understand performance expectations?   Who are your “high” performers?  What are you doing to ensure they are engaged?  Who are your “stable” performers? What are you doing to keep them focused?  And most importantly, who are your underperformers?  Two questions:  do they know they are an underperformer?  And secondly, what is the action plan to move forward?  You really can’t afford an underperformer on your team.  And you know what, your reputation takes a hit every day that passes these folks are still on the team.

Inventing the future
Finally, this last skill is what keeps organizations around.  Moving forward requires a skill set that seeks the future.  As a leader, do you make the time to think beyond the operational tasks and weekly calendar to drive innovation with your team?  How do you do this?  It’s those questions and conversations many may call a waste of time.  How often do you tinker or experiment with ideas you are not currently doing?  How often do you ask the questions “why”?  You must set aside some time to explore the future for it instills a spirit of innovation.  It’s what infuses the energy to your team and quite frankly, keeps you organization alive.

Six skills.  Six opportunities.  So where do you from here?  From our team at Organization Impact, we hope for movement in some way.  Get uncomfortable with you where you are today and simply take a step in your development journey.  We want you to succeed in the future.  And we want your organization thriving in the future too.   Here’s to your upside down development!

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