I was in a conversation with a gentleman who has done an impressive job of setting up a chain of progressive learning institutions across the country. He is now looking to expand his network, and his program offerings. He and I spoke at length about the next steps for scaling up.
This gentleman asked me a fundamental question – and despite there being 1000s of books around the subject of leadership, the answer to this question is still not very clear to leaders. His question was “Sameer, what do you think are the top 3 leadership skills?”
Here is my response to this question:
- The first thing that leaders do is design a powerful future for the organization. A lot has been spoken about leaders having a vision. It’s not actually so much about having a vision; it is more about having the skill of designing and creating a future. Not any future – but a future that takes care of all the stakeholders involved with the organization.When we speak about having a vision; we can easily go into a tranquilizing assessment that “I do not have this vision”. It seems like it is something that you either have or do not have. And hence, I claim this is not about having a vision – this is about building a skill of creating a future. And a skill is built through practice.
Bob Dunham, Founder of the Institute for Generative Leadership, USA often states, “Go out and create your future. Because you are doing so anyway.” Often, leaders are blind to the fact that they are already creating their futures.
They may also be blind that they are creating futures that do not take care of what matters to them, or the other stakeholders.
- Once you have designed your future of choice, you commit to achieving this future; and you get others to commit to achieving this future too. It takes a certain level of grounding to commit to a future (that often seems impossible). Again, this is a skill that needs to be honed through rigorous practice.Also, getting others to commit to this future is easier said than done. Here, the leader needs to have the kind of skillful conversations that connect individual cares and passions with organizational goals.
- And finally, align execution to achieve this future and make it a reality. As simple as that. And as simple as it is, it is not easy. Or trivial. There is rigour required in navigating action. When one set of actions fail, the leader quickly creates the next set of actions. This also includes empowering others (including teams) to take actions; ensuring the mood of the team is energized, and so forth (there’s an entire discourse around coordinating action and generating desired results)There are many other moves / conversations that leaders need to have. However, I assess these are the key conversational skills without which a leader will not go too far.
Reach out to us if you would like to build your skill in these and other critical leadership conversations. If this interests you, then you must definitely see our CEO Program
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