Core Competencies of 21st Century Business Leaders

Whether recruiting new leaders or developing existing ones, there are necessary competencies business leaders should have in the 21st century. While leaders can always be adding competencies to their skill set, there are core competencies that for the basis for successful leadership.

It is important for both the organization and the individual leader to be aware of how well the core competencies have been developed and what needs to be done to improve the expansion of these competencies. Core competencies for today’s business leader are as follows:

-The leader understands that leadership is a process and not a style. While it is important how the leader is viewed by his or her followers, it is the positive dynamics the leader sets into action that really matter. If the leader focuses inwardly only on how he or she comes across, then the work that needs to be orchestrated by the leader suffers.

-The leader sees the big picture. Included in that vision is the ability to align the work he or she orchestrates with the goals of the organization and to see how the pieces of work fit together. The leader sets goals for the area overseen and sets into motion the means to achieve those goals.

-Leadership of others requires the competency of collaboration. Included in the collaboration are the abilities to communicate effectively both through presentation and listening skills, work through conflicts to successful resolution, and the ability to influence others both within the area of leadership responsibility and across the organization to other areas and leaders, when coordination and cooperation are needed.

Credibility is another important leadership competency. This means the leader works at developing trust. The leader is known to be trustworthy by keeping his or her word and by following through on important actions that need to be taken. Underlying trustworthiness is ethical behavior that involves not demeaning others or taking advantage of them, or by taking selfish actions that are for the leader’s advantage only.

-The leader understands and can work with different personality styles and cultures. In today’s increasingly diverse workplace, this competency is crucial. It involves respect for others even when differences are present. More importantly, it involves bringing the best out of what each person can contribute, despite the differences.

-The leader works to create a positive work climate. This involves getting members to support the common purpose of the organization. (After all, this is why the organization exists.) It also means fostering teamwork so that the work unit can achieve its output with quality results.

-Balancing task, technology and people, the leader orchestrates the interface of the work that needs to be done with the people who need to do it. This involves constantly improving task processes and incorporating the latest technology integrating the work with people performance.

-The leader is open to change. The leader keeps an eye open for continuous improvement possibilities as well as potential breakthrough innovations. This involves not only the ability to meet threats and challenges with the existing situation, but also openness to opportunities that become apparent.

Decision making ability is a competency needed by all leaders. Sometimes leaders will spend too much time analyzing a situation or become paralyzed in fear of making a wrong decision. Every leader has to realize making decisions involves the potential to make right ones and wrong ones. The important thing is willingness to take decisive steps after acquiring the best information available.

-The leader constantly supports people development. This activity is such an important part of the leadership process. It ties back to the other competencies listed above including creating appositive work climate, trust and the ability to balance task and people performance.

An important exercise for the leader is to rank himself or herself on each of the competencies listed in this article. Ask the question: “As a leader, how strong am I in each of the competencies listed?” Depending on what your answers reveal, formulate a plan for your self -development to increase your skill in each of the leader competencies. By continuously developing these core competencies you will help yourself to be a high quality business leader in the 21st century.