More than ever, we need leaders. Because of the current health crisis that has fast-forwarded our lives into the digital future, and the veil being lifted on the history of systemic racism, it’s time we collectively redefine what makes a great leader — and fast. It has become obvious that the old way we defined leadership is in desperate need of an update.
The core competencies of great leaders haven’t changed. Leaders still need drive, stamina and a keen eye for the right strategies. What has changed is the awareness of the interpersonal skills required to be a great leader and create great leaders. Today’s leaders need to be curious about what makes their teams tick and understand the key to unlocking everybody’s greatest potential is by how well they can connect their team with their teammates.
We asked some members of the Mogul network about the leadership traits they think are most important. Given the state of the world, we should all be evaluating the way we communicate with each other. Here are the five skills they highlighted.
There’s no mistake empathy is number one on this list. It is the compass that should guide the way we conduct business. Although it might be easy to act polite to the person on the next side of a video call, politeness doesn’t inspire.
Politeness is good practice, but whether you’re in product, HR, sales, marketing, in the C-suite or on the board, your organization’s goal should be to positively impact the people you work with and the customers you serve. The only way to do this is to empathize. Share, listen, find common ground and connect. Put yourself on their screen and try to understand where they’re coming from and how they feel.
This doesn’t mean turning Zoom meetings into therapy sessions, but our metrics count on our ability to find common ground and connect with potential business collaborators. Once we establish a real connection, then we can discuss business.
If you’re focused on how your organization is making an impact on people’s lives, then you’ll know what it’s like to feel pride, joy, exhaustion, anger and heartbreak — all in just the last three months. People want to be inspired, so be open about the organization’s trials and tribulations from your vantage point. Our current global climate is stressful, to say the least, so allowing your team to see that you are human will make them work harder for you.
Additionally, four-year colleges might face a loss of up to 20 percent in fall enrollment, according to SimpsonScarborough, a higher education research and marketing company. As Gen Z enters the workforce, they are bound to have some gaps in their education due to the rise of online learning. There are plenty of upskilling opportunities (such as Hubspot, LinkedIn or Mogul Learning courses), and encouraging them to further their education will pay dividends.
In the Tao Te Ching, on Tao leadership, Lao Tzu says, “The best leaders are those the people hardly know exist.” Suppose you’re a leader who loves praise — more power to you. But the best leaders are the ones who highlight others, especially when they don’t have to.
Did you secure a new strategic partnership? Praise the colleague that did the outreach on your behalf. Did you hit your sales goals for the quarter? Shout out your AEs for their ability to connect with prospects and create interest quickly. You may have put the strategy together, but if you are not the one pulling all the levers, give credit where credit is due.
It would behoove you not to share the wealth of recognition. Leaders who take a tablespoon of humility in service of bonding with the people around them are the ones that continuously come out ahead.
Generosity is the most underrated business strategy. If a colleague requests a few minutes extra after a video call for a few clarifying questions, be generous with your time. If somebody who works for you would like to ask you some questions about how you’ve developed in your career, be generous with your knowledge. Generosity circulates intelligence from generation to generation.
Generosity is also the most authentic sign of confidence. Sharing what you’ve learned is telling the world that the knowledge you have is free to absorb in hopes of bettering our society. And it is worth sharing with those who show interest. It’s not unheard of for a wide-eyed intern to turn into a partner down the road. Those who make the best successors are those who had proclivities for leadership in the first place. Those who hold their cards too close run the risk of suppressing talent until the talent goes elsewhere.
We all can continually practice these soft skills to ensure we’re inspiring those around us to do their best work. As leaders, we need to take the time to learn about our talent as much as they are willing to open up and share. Share this with a current or a future leader.