7 Must-Have Leadership Traits and Skills in 2023
Who would have thought back in 2020 that we’d still be in this mess in 2023? The world, especially the corporate world, has changed for good.
The pandemic has changed how teams work and collaborate. It’s a new world order where remote work is mainstream. Leadership must acquire the skills to keep teams engaged without being on the same premises. It’s a challenge, but not a difficult one when you know what you need to do.
As leaders roll up their sleeves trying to become better leaders in a digital environment, they’ll likely face multiple challenges like the Great Resignation. Their determination is key to overcoming those challenges, but the question is, how can leaders become future-ready?
This article covers everything you need to know about becoming a future-ready leader today. Having the skills to lead teams that appreciate freedom and location-agnostic work comes with caveats, but there are things you can do to become a leader they’ll admire.
Traits and skills leaders must have in 2023
Companies of the future need leaders. They look for at least some degree of leadership skills even at entry level. Whether you’re trying to get a new job in a leadership position or trying to hone your leadership skills by educating yourself, the following traits and skills will help.
1. Help employees thrive
The Great Resignation has caused a frenzy among leaders and employers.
One of the theories behind what some are calling the “turnover tsunami” is that employees are now looking for a workplace where leaders nurture employees and the leadership’s commitment to ensuring employee wellbeing.
Instead of investing in in-house cafés, your company should help all leaders become employee-centric.
Make employees feel like they’re being taken care of and you’ll see your employee retention improve.
Arrange one on one meetings to help employees grow or address potential concerns. Be thoughtful about how you arrange the meeting, especially if you operate in a remote environment.
Give them options as to when they’d like to schedule the meeting based on your availability, and email them about it well in advance. You don’t need to write the full draft yourself; you can just use this one on one template and replace the details.
2. Stay agile and ready for change
If there’s one thing the pandemic has taught working professionals, it’s that the business environment can change quick.
The business environment is in a continuous state of evolution and the more agile an employee is, the more likely they’re in driving the company forward by successfully navigating a change.
Leaders were forced to move out of their comfort zone when they were suddenly locked at home. They couldn’t interact with their team like they used to, how must they function as efficient leaders?
When leaders can’t seem to get comfortable with change, the effect carries through to their team.
A team that believes that a remote arrangement isn’t working as effectively are likely to not deliver their best performance.
The solution? Leaders that are ready embrace change as it comes.
Change isn’t always easy. However, leaders who can look a change in the eye and roll with it are the ones that keep teams afloat. Agility is a key leadership trait employers will look for.
3. Emotional intelligence
There are several reasons why emotional intelligence makes a good leader.
Emotionally intelligent leaders can create an environment of understanding and harmony for their team. It allows leaders to encourage a transparent and inclusive culture.
Emotionally intelligent leaders are also more likely to proactively seek feedback and ask questions to their team to extract useful information and sharpen their skills.
Emotional intelligence can be built over time, so if you don’t think you’re quite there yet, you can start working on it.
Building emotional intelligence will make you more aware of your actions and the impact you have on others.
Over time, you’ll be able to foster trust among team members. They’ll admire your ability to understand their needs and your proactive approach toward solving otherwise complex issues that are often not directly related to work.
4. Top-notch communication skills
No more circulars, no more intercoms. It’s about Google Meet and Loom videos now.
There has been a dramatic shift in the way teams communicate with each other. It’s a little harder to communicate the company’s goals and vision when your team members can’t see how committed the leadership is to them.
However, it’s not impossible. A leader with good communication skills ensures that he uses the right tone of voice and language to let the team know about the company’s priorities and business goals.
Often, leaders will sneak these messages into their daily communication without the team ever realizing it. Weaving goals into daily communication can help keep the team on the same page, and while doing this is more challenging in a remote work environment, good leaders can usually do this by acquiring communication skills.
5. Good decision maker
Leaders need to be good decision-makers. Leaders who can make a decision quickly can paralyze the entire team, and adversely impact the company’s profitability in several ways.
It’s not just quick decision-making that’s important, it’s also about making shrewd decisions. A leader should be able to foresee the impact of a decision, assess its viability and consequences, and do a quick cost benefit to see which option will deliver the best results in a given situation.
Leaders also need to justify the decisions they make to their superiors. Making decisions on a whim isn’t an option. Leaders should be able to provide a rationale for why they made a certain decision to stakeholders.
Therefore, a leader has a twofold role when it comes to decision-making.
Leaders must make prudent decisions and ensure that there’s buy-in from the team. When the team disagrees with a decision, they’re less likely to be able to effectively implement the decision.
Leaders must also communicate the decision to their superiors and other stakeholders and communicate why a certain decision makes more business sense than other options.
6. Delegation and autonomy
Delegation and autonomy sound like strategies, but they’re indeed leadership skills. Before you delegate or provide enough autonomy, you need to gauge the employee’s level of commitment and skills to ensure they’ll do everything right.
It takes practice and maybe some bad experiences to be able to tell which team members can be trusted with a task or responsibility and whether they should have complete or partial autonomy.
But here’s the challenge: the need for delegation and autonomy has increased. With employees leaving full-time jobs, those who continue are taking on more responsibilities than ever.
Disseminating these responsibilities through delegation can be an effective strategy in preventing company-wide burnout. Leaders should recognize the need to delegate and when required, upskill the members to make them more competent with handling tasks.
As employees start gaining experience, leaders will be able to offer more autonomy. This will further reduce the workload at the senior level and tackle a problem that probably won’t end any time soon.
Humility takes leaders far.
It makes you endearing, approachable, and influential. When you admit you don’t do everything, and you’re willing to learn, it will encourage your employees to seek growth and acquire new skills consistently.
When they have questions, they’ll be more comfortable coming to you with them.
A study also confirms that leaders who underrate their skills are more likable and effective.
Interacting with employees is one of the greatest sources of innovative ideas, but if they find you to be arrogant, they’re very likely to keep their thoughts to themselves.
Why wouldn’t they? Arrogance is off-putting for everyone, not just your team.
Humility will also give you the power to help your team achieve its full potential. When they see that you’re capable of being empathetic about your team’s failures, they’ll ask for guidance and try to gain insight into how you’d navigate a situation.
This is where you can help them strive for success and learn from their mistakes.
However, humility is not equal to weakness.
Admitting mistakes, sharing credit, and underrating your abilities is a sign of confidence and strength. It makes a leader authentic and one that their team members will be proud to follow.
“Humility takes leaders far”.
Ready to become a future-ready leader?
The future might bring more challenges; ones that we may have never faced. Inculcating leadership traits and characteristics that can take you far is critical to your and your company’s success.
Sharpening your leadership skills won’t only make it easier to build and lead a successful team, it will offer you a pathway to growth within the company.
As your superiors notice your ability to manage teams effectively, you’re likely to fast-track through the corporate ladder and become eligible to hold key leadership positions.