A key reason why many successful managers falter when as they rise in the ranks is that their decision-making ability has not kept pace with their people skills
Here is the new normal in today’s business world: ambiguity, complexity, hyper-competitiveness, and blinding-fast change. But there is also another new normal: today’s emerging leaders simply are not ready.
Leaders today need to be more strategic than ever – yet we cannot ask our leaders to think and act more strategically if they do not have the skills to do so. The studies make it clear that strategic people and information skills are in high demand but short supply in the next generation of leaders. Organizations must take steps now to prepare these future leaders – strategic skills cannot be taught overnight, and leaders without them can make costly missteps. There are several key steps that organizations can take. Strategic skills should become a top priority in every level of hiring and promotion. Development is equally essential.
Organizations must start early in the leadership pipeline, developing collaboration and team-building skills starting at the individual contributor level through mid-level managers. As leaders rise higher in the organization, special emphasis should be placed on developing their critical thinking and learning agility. A key reason why many successful managers falter when as they rise in the ranks is that their decision-making ability has not kept pace with their people skills. Strategic information skills must be solidly in place by the time the managers reach the executive level.
Tips to Improve Skills Now
Strategic Information Skills
- Learn to stop and think: size up the situation, clarify your purpose and goal, determine urgency, and identify what you know, what you don’t know, and how to build a game plan.
- More is not always better; don’t overload on information. Differentiate information that is relevant and accurate from that which is tangential.
- Analyze both your successes and failures for patterns and clues on how to improve.
- Put yourself in new or ambiguous situations and observe how you react and respond to increase awareness of your tendencies.
Strategic People Skills
- Focus on the creation of clear goals and outcomes for everyone involved and make sure that everyone is aligned with the common goal.
- Foster respectful participative relationships that drive engagement, communication, and cooperation.
- Actively keep team members informed using multiple communication methods (in-person, phone, skype, e-mail).
- Learn the preferences of your team, so that you know what they are good at and what they like to do. Motivate and engage by leveraging their strengths and preferences.
The strategic skills gap among emerging leaders is formidable, but it can be overcome if organizations move quickly and aggressively. Organizations must also start early, and develop often, so new managers don’t crash upon arrival. In the new normal, those who fall behind in developing strategic skills will quickly find they don’t have a talent pipeline capable of successfully guiding their organization into the future.