Advancing leadership skills for 2020

In January 2016, the World Economic Forum presented a paper entitled The Future of Jobs. Predicting a bigger influence of advanced robotics, in more traditional work spaces, they have identified the Top 10 skills for 2020. These are particularly important for the Leader to lead the organisation further into the future. The Top 10 skills are summarised in the infographic and expanded below

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In a VUCA environment, where connections between and among known and unknown drivers are vastly interconnected, being able to separate the wheat from the chaff is ever more important. Leaders need to learn not only to apply this, but lead this from their team. They must learn to solve - and learn to lead in solving - complex problems.


It is the rigour of applying analysis, synthesis, evaluation, and conclusion to guide belief or action. Leaders who cannot separate fact from fiction will cause a lot of disruption in the workplace. They need to learn from very early on to think critically and apply sound cognitive processes


This is the bedrock skill upon which all other skills are built up from. Creativity is the ability to play with ideas, to add, subtract, divide and multiply them to create more perspectives and better solutions. Without creativity, there will be no change, no development, no leadership.


Trust, diversity, empowerment, coaching are all key skills in leadership - more so for the future when there is a need to integrate people with even more diverse backgrounds, with diverse skills, from diverse cultures. And with fluidity as the main working mode, leaders must allow the ebb and flow of failure and success to create a winning team!


With the advent of the flexible workforce, there will increasingly be more people coming into an organisation on a contract basis, for only a fixed time, and focused on one key area. Leaders will therefore need to facilitate more connections, discussions, handing over and taking over and coordinations within and outside the organisation.


EQ accounts for more than twice as much as IQ and technical skills combined in determining who will be a star performer. EQ is not just about understanding others, their hopes and dreams, their fears and intimidations. It is equally about knowing ourselves, and how we navigate the ups and downs of our life, in relation to the leadership requirements of our work.


Volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. These are the characteristics of the working environment in 2020. Leaders must be able to deal with incomplete information, make the best risk-balanced decision and be ready to pivot.


Not to be mistaken for customer service, this skill is key to transformational leaders as it leads with others in mind. They enable their team to perform by rendering acts of servitude to them. Far from being seen as weak, a service oriented leader builds strength by empowering others, and helping them build that power.


Seen as waning in significance vis-a-vis 2015 requirements, negotiation is nevertheless still a Top 10 skill. The ability to lead discussions to a mutually beneficial agreement will be more challenging amidst rapid changes in the business environment.


A one-track-mind leader will very quickly find himself surrounded by irrelevance. The ability to tweak, pivot and even abandon an idea or a project in light of new information is the sign of a 2020 Leader, one who is flexible in her thinking and also execution.

Photo Credits:

1. Installation of Marconi via photopin (license)

2. via photopin (license)

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