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Leadership & Culture

These are the skills leaders need in 2022

There was a time when many leaders spent most of their time behind the closed doors of an office. Only sharing themselves with their team on their own terms, they were often more like unapproachable islands than real people to those they were leading.


Sure, this was not true of every leader. We all probably know a leader or two who was ready to invite their teams in (and were all the more effective for it). Maybe they showed vulnerability. Maybe they didn’t ask for perfection. Maybe they trusted you.


It is this more open, in touch, personable leadership that is required today. According to Udemy, there are 6 skills leaders need to develop in 2022, and most are about knowing (and sharing) yourself - whether you are a leader, manager, or leading yourself.


1. Recognising limitations


How often do you (or your leaders) let your guard down and tell your team you don’t know the answer? How often do they ask for questions and advice from the team, rather than dictating a direction upfront?  Does ego dominate, or does vulnerability?


Today’s better leaders embrace vulnerability and admit when they don’t know something. They get comfortable asking questions, and earning the respect of a network of people that will support them. According to Udemy, they know their own limitations.


There are a few ways to hone these skills. Udemy suggests scheduling coffee talks or catch-ups with industry peers, mentoring someone within your organisation, or joining a community in your industry to support practice and cultivation of these qualities.


2. Self-confidence


Perhaps more than ever, leaders need to be ‘out there’ in front of and collaborating with teams, solving new problems. While they may cover over it as much as possible, most leaders come face to face with imposter syndrome sooner or later.


Self-confidence can help leaders overcome these moments. Udemy recommends ‘separating fears from facts’ on a piece of paper rather than worrying about things outside your control, or signing up for a public speaking course if you lack speaking confidence.


An interesting technique is to reframe self-doubt by turning questions into statements. ‘Am I good enough?’ can become ‘I am good enough’, and if you’re trying to learn something, remember to say ‘I’m not good at this yet’. It changes your frame!


3. Progress over perfection


In 2022, organisations need to move at pace in the direction of progress. In the tech world we live in for example, there’s a lot of talk of failing fast, MVPs (Minimum Viable Products) and iteration, rather than building to perfection from the outset.


Leaders are a critical part of this progress continuum. While they may wish to prove themselves by creating or achieving the perfect something, the reality is, this can end up holding teams and organisations back from achieving the results they desire.


Udemy suggests reframing failure as a reward for trying something new, taking a ‘failure bow’ like an improv artist if you get something wrong, and embracing iteration through shipping a product or service and getting feedback faster.


4. Getting things done


Leaders need to get things done. While building skills like recognising limitations and self-confidence are critical, in the end, it’s what leaders can achieve that make the difference to their success, and to the success of their organisation.


Udemy suggests getting things done means ‘unlocking team barriers’, by understanding what tweaks could be made to team workflow to improve performance, and being ready to change course and pick up new tools and frameworks quickly.


Also focus on systems rather than tasks. While pressure often causes us to zero in on the endless urgent task list, in the long run, focusing on solving a problem with a system will exponentially improve performance for the leader and the team as a whole.


5. Trust in the team


Teams need to be trusted. Following a move to remote work for many during Covid-19, leaders have needed to place a premium on trusting their people, both in terms of managing their own time effectively, and getting the necessary work done.


This will need to continue. Leaders will need to trust their teams through stronger delegation and act as facilitators rather than bottlenecks when it comes to encouraging and getting the best out of specialists who may well know more than the leader.


Udemy suggests asking employees their preferred communication styles, so they don’t feel micromanaged, and actively celebrating individual wins as and when they happen. This is particularly useful for younger generations, who expect instant feedback.


6. Self-awareness


Self-awareness is now a key competency. It means increasing consciousness of all aspects of the way a leader leads, including weaknesses as well as strengths. By shining a light on themselves, leaders are able to remain open and to improve as they go.


Feedback is an important part of this. Many leaders will be familiar with a 360 degree performance evaluation process or something similar. Leaders will need something like this, a feedback loop of sorts, to help them understand how others see them.


Udemy also recommends leaders become active listeners in conversations and meetings, letting others speak and finish, as well as consider self-reflection practices, like mindfulness or journaling, to deepen their self-awareness over time.


Want to be a better leader? Browse more leadership hints and tips from the team at ReadyTech here.