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Top Ten Leadership Skills For 2020

LEADERS NEED TO continually polish their talents, and sometimes also their resume. We all recognize that organizations are changing, new challenges are surfacing and competition is increasing. What does that mean for those of us in the workplace? In January 2016 the World Economic Forum issued their Future of Jobs report to update their 2015 analysis. In 2020, they ranked the key skills as:

[message type=”custom” width=”100%” start_color=”#E6FEFF ” end_color=”#E6FEFF ”         border=”#BBBBBB” color=”#333333″]

  1. top-10-tenComplex problem solving
  2. Critical thinking
  3. Creativity
  4. People management
  5. Coordinating with others
  6. Emotional intelligence
  7. Judgment and decision making
  8. Service orientation
  9. Negotiation
  10. Cognitive flexibility[/message][su_spacer]

What I found interesting was that they added the skills of emotional intelligence and cognitive flexibility and dropped quality circles and active listening from the list. There was also movement within the ranking. People management, coordinating with others, service orientation and negotiation fell, while critical thinking, creativity, judgment and decision making rose. In my view this reflects a shift to mental prowess, since half the list connects to thinking ability.   Complex problem solving, critical thinking, creativity, judgment and decision making and cognitive flexibility center on mental practices. It raises the question of how a leader or coach can develop this level of thinking dexterity.   It certainly cannot be by mandate or by adding it to a job description.

I have worked with leaders who wanted their staff to display strategic thinking or creativity. The request was clear but the mechanics were not. This missing piece might be due to the assumption that thinking and IQ are correlated, and the notion that intelligence is fixed. The TV show Scorpion weekly shows how Walter Obrien with an IQ of 197 cannot deal effectively with many situations.

Decision making tools identify how to analyze the data but they do not help to identify new realities, identify multiple alternatives or influence acceptance. Instead of seeing these activities as inherent, they also follow a checklist using questions from six frames of reference or mindset. Doctors, pilots and lawyers employ checklist to collect all the necessary information. Leaders can use them also to capture what is new, what is changing and what should be done to leverage opportunities. You can see a checklist summary HERE.

Dr. Mary Lippitt
Dr. Mary Lippitthttp://www.enterprisemgt.com
Dr. Mary Lippitt is an award-winning author of "Brilliant or Blunder: 6 Ways Leaders Navigate Uncertainty, Opportunity, and Complexity.” She founded Enterprise Management Ltd. in 1984 to provide leaders with practical and effective solutions to navigate the modern business climate using situational mastery. Dr. Lippitt is a thought leader and speaker on executing change, optimal leadership, and situational analysis. She currently teaches in the MBA program at the University of South Florida. Mary is also the author of Situational Mindsets: Targeting What Matters When It Matters.
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Jonathan Solomon

A very interesting article to read and contemplate. However, I fail to see the significance of all those 10 points the WEF has slated to be key points for 2020. All the points mentioned are meaningless unless put into specific context. The question one needs to ask are what are complex problem solving? For whom are they “complex”, why are they complex?? Actually all problems are complex by nature even today. The questions as to how, where, when why, what, need to be addressed to each of the 10 mentioned skills every single day – not only for 2020.

In my humble opinion I believe that the single most important skill for any and all Leaders is “EMPATHY”. I dare say that without Empathy – no other skill really matters – in any part of the world, in any culture and in any religious influence and in any other circumstance.

Dr Daniel Goleman very aptly said, “Leaders with empathy, do more than sympathize with people around them: they use their knowledge to improve their companies in subtle, but important ways.” This doesn’t mean that they agree with everyone’s view or try to please everybody. Rather, they “thoughtfully consider employees’ feelings – along with other factors – in the process of making intelligent decisions.”

Simon Sinek further explains, “Empathy—the ability to recognize and share other people’s feelings—is the most important instrument in a leader’s toolbox. It can be expressed in the simple words, “Is everything OK?”

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