by C.G. Lynch

Management Report: Leadership Skills Needed for Today

Dec 01, 20052 mins
IT Leadership

Face it, you don’t know everything. And your first step as a leader should be to admit it and then surround yourself with people who will know what to do when you, inevitably, don’t.

That’s advice from Andr¿artin, an enterprise associate at the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL), who studies what it takes to be an effective leader. “The age of the hero leader is ending,” says Martin. “The whole idea that a leader can solve and manage and get through [today’s] challenges by him or herself is no longer the case.”

A recent CCL study found that decisiveness and a willingness to “do whatever it takes” to lead are no longer enough to succeed. Skills such as building relationships and the ability to manage change have risen in importance as the challenges companies face become more complex.

CCL surveyed 128 senior and middle managers. Sixty percent said they face challenges that go beyond their individual capabilities. As a result, the study concludes, managers must view their role as someone who facilitates the work of their employees. They can do this by providing their staff with the necessary resources and by making it possible for them to work collaboratively with people in different parts of the organization as they adapt to changing business needs.

The new findings contrast with a 2002 survey by CCL, which ranked resourcefulness and straightforwardness among the skills that were most important for leaders to possess. Today, these skills have been supplanted in importance by the ability to build relationships and to manage change. Consistent with these responses, 84 percent of those surveyed said the definition of leadership has changed in the past five years.

Martin says new leadership challenges stem from a more competitive business climate and abrupt changes in the way companies do business.“Technological change, new ideas—really any societal improvement—used to take decades to happen,” says Martin. “Now, we’re finding those changes can happen over a single 24-hour period.”