Taking on the Leadership Challenge: Improving your core skills

What does it mean to be a leader? The answer to that tricky question has changed so often in the past few years, you’re definitely not alone if you feel tongue-tied trying to come up with a clear response. From micro-managers to motivators, bosses to facilitators, there have been various trendy ideas about what it takes to be a leader in business.

Whilst the likes of Richard Branson are constantly held up as examples of quality leadership, seemingly unable to put a foot wrong, everyone else has to delicately tiptoe the wavering line between good and bad employer behaviour.

But now we’ve finally got some definitive answers on the skills we need to work on over the next few years, and they come in the form of cold, hard statistics.

CIPD’s HR Outlook Survey

Over winter 2016/17, CIPD polled HR professionals from several different organisations within the public and private sector about future goals and the areas in need of improvement within their companies. And when it came to analysing current workplace leaders, the results weren’t very positive:

“One of the headline findings is that many HR professionals believe leaders in their organisation don’t have the behaviours and skills needed to get the best from their people.”

But not content with only offering generalisations, CIPD also asked respondents to identify precisely which skills and behaviours they thought would be most important going forwards.

Amongst those highlighted, the most common were the development and engagement of staff, as well the management of performance and people.

With this in mind, we’re sharing a few top tips on how to work on these core skills and transform your leadership style for future success.

#1: promoting staff development

If you want your employees to give a blinding performance at the office every single day of the week, then you need to make sure that they have the knowledge and expertise to do their job properly.

To help your team stay at the top of their game, focus on promoting staff development across all levels, making it clear that anyone keen to advance their skills will be supported.

Set up an in-house training programme, hire external companies to run tutorials or encourage individuals to sign up to distance learning courses (Anglia Ruskin University offers online degrees in business management and leadership).

#2: managing difficult conversations

Also flagged up as a major focus for HR was the ability of managers to deal with difficult conversations. Whether it’s addressing the poor performance of an employee or owning up to mistakes to clients, we’ve all been forced to deal with tricky situations we’d rather avoid.

But taking responsibility and facing those kinds of conversations head on is key to being an effective leader that inspires trust in others.

That means working on your overall communication and emotional intelligence, and putting your finely honed people skills into practise during every meeting.

#3: keeping motivation high

A team of downtrodden, miserable and unproductive employees will quickly bring your business to a standstill – as the leader, it’s your responsibility to keep the office buzzing.

And with promoting engagement and motivation highlighted as key future skills by the CIPD report, morale is clearly a problem on the minds of HR professionals. Take charge of the situation and focus on creating a happy, supportive and inspiring working environment.

Encourage teamwork, run healthy eating initiatives, allow flexibility in working hours, listen to complaints or implement an incentive scheme. Whatever your budget, there are plenty of options to pick from that’ll give your employees a boost.

Do you agree with the findings of the CIPD report? What leadership skills do you think will be key going forwards? Leave a comment and let us know.



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