Leadership Skills Needed in Today’s Environment

 You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

How does one be an effective leader in a world that has changed so significantly in 2020? What skills do new and aspiring leaders, as well as experienced and long-time leaders, need to concentrate on? 

I love the above quote from Eleanor Roosevelt since we have all been dealing with uncertainty and loss of control for months now – scary stuff indeed! Expecting life to get back to normal is unrealistic; knowing and accepting the need for constant reevaluation, readjustment and realignment are key.

So perhaps young professionals just getting started in their careers have an advantage – they are not caught in the trap of “we’ve always done it this way” and “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it”. Now is the time to do an overhaul of the way we work, the way we communicate, the way we treat others.

Reflecting on the most important leadership skills and attributes to be successful today is something we should all do. Here is my list –

  1. Collaboration. Now more than ever, none of us have all the answers. We need each other – we need to collectively problem solve. The last few months have affected everyone in different ways and helped people find new strengths. Let’s use each other’s strengths to complement our own weaknesses.
  2. Communication. Remember when email was new and one thing you learned was NOT TO USE ALL CAPS AS IT MEANS YOU ARE YELLING AT ME? Now, with remote working more commonplace, simple email etiquette is even more important. Take care to reread your emails before hitting send, reading them as if you were the recipient not the sender. 
  3. Multitasking is overrated. When meeting remotely with a coworker, your boss, or your employee, do not multitask. It is annoying to hear keystrokes while having a one-on-one discussion. Plus, the impression is that your task is more important than the person you are talking to. And use video – seeing someone makes the discussion more personable and more “real”. 
  4. Embrace change. Learn to appreciate, and even look forward to change. After all, it is inevitable and never ending. You do not have to like it, but you need to understand it and accept it. This skill is not an easy one – and requires constant attention to become proficient at it!
  5. Stay informed. But, choose and limit your sources of information carefully. Be sure you are receiving credible information from diverse points of view and not limiting yourself to only sources that “agree” with your opinions or sources that are not vetted.
  6. Practice gratitude. Be grateful for the experiences, good and bad, that are shaping you as a leader. Be grateful to the people that are causing you to look at things differently, causing you to reconsider and change your perspective.
  7. Mentor and be mentored. We need each other more than ever – and need to help others along the way.

I am excited to see how leadership will change and how the young professionals in Siouxland will shape our community in positive ways we can only imagine!

By Peggy Smith is the Executive Director of Leadership Siouxland, a non-profit organization that has over 1000 graduates that are now making positive differences in their community.

Leadership Siouxland develops diverse, informed leaders who shape our community for today and tomorrow.

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