What Do We Expect of Our Leaders?
In the “old days,” it was not unusual to expect the leader of an organization to rise through the ranks. Frequently, they had a strong competency in a business discipline—accounting, engineering, project management, sales. Yet, that strength can become a weakness if the leader falls back to the comfort zone of technical competency. Leaders can abdicate responsibilities in some areas and become a micromanager in areas of their expertise. With the increasing application of Artificial Intelligence and automation, we need further specialization if we are to be a strong individual contributor.
And, that very specialization means it is difficult for a leader to have a broad technical competency. Today, skills are focused narrowly. Our technology-driven processes are becoming more complex. So we expect our leaders to be competent in leadership itself rather than focusing on technical competency. So how do we manage that? How do we get the experience and insight to become a business leader?
There will always be individuals who can make the transition from a specific skill to global leadership talent. However, I believe that we will see fewer individual contributors leading businesses. Instead, we will see those who intentionally study Emotional Intelligence (EQ), Leadership, and Organizational Development (OD), leading our organizations.
The Business of Business is People
More than ever, our competence as leaders is defined by our EQ. A leader’s competency rests in the understanding of the organization’s Key Performance Indicators (KPI) and macro-economic trends affecting customers and relevant markets. Leaders are most successful when aligning values, vision, and mission for the corporation and creating a safe work environment.
Required leadership skills of EQ and OD can and must be learned. They must not be assumed or taken for granted.