The essential core skills of evolving leadership

Leaders have been in the spotlight during the pandemic more than ever. Employee engagement shifted dramatically in a short period of time and those leaders who were most successful in keeping employees engaged were the ones that communicated the best – despite not knowing themselves what tomorrow would bring. It’s been a huge test – and one that is already showing the difference between the good leader and the extraordinary. In recent times, all the big-ticket conversations with senior leaders across the globe have all been dominated by communication strategies: which ones worked and which ones didn’t, and the impact these strategies have had.

To succeed as a senior leader and also to hire the right people for your team, you need to understand these core capabilities. Then undertake additional learning in order to develop any gaps.

Leadership isn’t a final destination. It is something leaders must work at continuously throughout their career, regardless of what level and status they reach in an organisation. The acceptance and promotion of deeper thinking and self-reflection about skills gaps will help create a successful and sustainable career.  

Let’s take a look at what these skills are and cover some questions you can ask to help yourself to evaluate where you sit with regards to them.

1. Business skills

Business skills are the basis of any senior leader’s expertise. Mastering them provides an all-round business acumen that will allow a leader to understand trends, forecast innovation and be ahead of the curve – giving your business a competitive advantage.

Whether you’re planning for a promotion, looking to external opportunities or to simply want improve your performance, when you improve your business performance skills you are positively impacting profit, staff retention, and culture. You are creating options for your career and business.

The business skills to develop include:

  • Business management
  • Strategy
  • Delivering results
  • Industry expertise

Consider this question: Do you understand the market, industry, threats, and opportunities to effectively forecast for the future?

2. Digital-first mindset

Having a keen interest in and respect for how technology is advancing businesses is essential for any leader.

To be progressive, an executive leader needs to embrace technological advancements and consider how to digitise the business, moving it forward both technologically and socially and shoring it up for the future.

Whether you are a digital native or late adopter, transforming your understanding of digital health leadership will prepare you to lead the transformation of your business and that of the life sciences industry, heightening your value as a thought leader and change agent.

The digital-first skills leaders must develop include:

  • Technology
  • Digitization
  • Risk management
  • Investment

Consider this question: Can you decode your organisation’s digital health maturity and identify where in your business digital health can create new revenue opportunities?

3. Leadership skills

It goes without saying that senior leaders need leadership skills, but with the employee/employer relationship changing and leadership under the microscope, you must understand your current leadership capabilities and priories. Then, address any gaps.

The executive leadership team are the ultimate leaders of an organisation and responsible for leading the business and the employees. The executives are the face of the company which means that every action and behaviour is noted by the public, the board, shareholders, customers, competitors, and employees. Transforming your perspective to performance will give you an immediate disproportionate competitive advantage.

The leadership skills to develop include:

  • Leadership capabilities
  • Managing performance
  • Developing people
  • Building culture

Consider this question: Have you put in place a culture of growth that is global, objective, and inspirational?

4. Emotional capital

Emotional capital is the collection of all the skills and self-awareness that together enable a greater understanding of self and others. Strong leaders build ‘emotional capital’ within their teams which then enables the team to deliver superior performance in execution. Emotional capital is a prerequisite of any leader.

Generating and being aware of the balance between business logic and emotional engagement to drive personal and collective action will transform your performance and the performance of your business, from average to extraordinary.

The emotional capital skills include:

  • Self-awareness
  • Social awareness
  • Self-regulation
  • Self-motivation

Consider these questions: Do you generate a deep personal engagement and energy for timeless commitment? 

5. Relational agility

In highly complex, fast-paced, and matrixed organisations, developing effective person-to-person relationships is a critical component to achieving shared goals. The ability to deliver results through effective relationships with others is what distinguishes extraordinary leaders from their peers.

Choosing relationships over transactions transforms your ability to influence and effect action. Prioritizing this skill will maximise your value as an executive leader and business leader.

The relational agility skills we are assessing include:

  • Building Trust
  • Internal stakeholder relationships
  • External stakeholder relationships
  • Customer engagement

Consider this question: Do you have processes in place to improve the relationships you have with your stakeholders and customers?

Great leaders must have all these capabilities

As you can see, all of these skill areas involve balancing a commercial edge, business logic, strategy, execution, and humility. Now, employers are defining the ideal candidate as having all of these capabilities: balancing a commercial edge, business logic, strategy, execution, and humility. 

Senior leaders also need to take ownership of their own development and asses any gaps. It’s no use complaining you don’t feel valued unless you have already taken steps to examine what you need to do to address any skills gaps. Leadership isn’t a destination. It is something that you’ll have to work at continuously throughout your career, regardless of what level you reach in your organization.

Also, use these skills when reviewing and planning your leadership workforce and make them part of the interview/hiring process. Do you know what skills are important for your team?  Always consider what skills and experience will bring further strength to your team to create strong cultures, high trust environment and deliver results. Based on this, do you believe you have the right leaders in your business?

That’s how you and your organisation will get ahead of competition and deliver superior results for the benefit of everyone.

Hunton Executive is dedicated to accelerating executive and leadership careers within the life sciences and healthcare industries, globally.

Do you have leadership gaps you would like to address? Hunton Executive is dedicated to accelerating executive and leadership careers within the life sciences and healthcare industries, globally.. Contact us for more information or try our executive career diagnostic scorecard take the next step in turning your leadership from good to extraordinary.


Related Articles