In business, as in the rest of life, leadership skills are critical now more than ever.

In business, as in the rest of life, leadership skills are critical now more than ever.

Q. Whew! Recession is over, or is it? Is the economy settled, can we go back to business as normal, employees can get back to work and job-seekers can expect to find more open roles?

A. Maybe if we look to investing money sitting on the sidelines, we need to push investment back into the economy, look at investment in people, training, and technology and…..the real innovation then we start to move forward.

Having looked at the 2012 Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) survey, Challenges Facing HR Over the Next 10 Years, and ‘developing leaders’ takes the number two spot of concerns HR must address as identified by 52 percent of respondents.  In business, as in the rest of life, leadership skills are critical now more than ever.

Taking the number one spot in the SHRM survey with 60 percent of respondents is ‘retaining and rewarding the best employees’.  This makes sense as a lead-in, since I’d argue the best employees are leaders – people leaders, management leaders, creative leaders, technical leaders or sales leaders. We need to fill the leadership gap, and fast.

Looking at the top five challenges to developing leaders then think a bit about how to address them.

Five must haves for every leader:

1) Invest in leadership development. Whether you believe leaders are born or made, companies still need to invest in their best employees to develop and sustain leadership qualities.

2) Create a culture of collaboration. Leaders are at their best when the company culture demands collaboration. Rewarding individual success is necessary but not sufficient. 

3) Develop communications skills. We may expect our leaders to be good communicators but too often it’s not the case. Communication styles vary widely; what may work for one organisation may not work for another.

4) Drive and sustain real accountability. Leaders must be accountable.

5) Be human and reward emotional intelligence. Yes, I’m a huge fan of emotional intelligence; yes, it belongs on any ‘top five’ leadership traits list.

Finally, Leaders and HR people must act now to advocate for employees of all levels – we too must be leaders. In this new world of work employees will need to reinvent themselves over and over again; employers must be able to support them in this task.

HR and leaders alike have many responsibilities. Maybe among the most important is developing the next generation of leaders and being more innovative as times change rapidly before our eyes. Where would you start? I’d love to know.

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