3 top skills of great leaders

Rosalinde Torres is a leadership expert. She studies what makes great leaders tick and figures out how to teach others the same skills.

By the end of this article you will learn the skills of great leaders and what you can do to acquire them.

Here are 3 top skills of great leaders according to Rosalinde Torres:

1. Great leaders see around corners, shaping their future not just reacting to it.

What does seeing around corners mean?

It means you, as a leader are able to see breakthrough changes coming even before they really happen, and you are able to turn them into huge new opportunities.

How can you achieve that? What does it take? Is it skills? Can anyone learn the necessary skills to see around corners?

In his book, The Attacker’s Advantage, Ram Charan, the world-renowned business advisor writes about 5 basic strategies that can support the leaders to see around corners.

5 abilities to help you see around the corners (as detailed by Marty Zwilling):

  • Be always on the alert, sensing for signals and meaning of change: talk to your support group or network group, discover ideas and change paths and bounce your ideas off of them;
  • Grow a mindset that discovers opportunity in uncertainty;
  • Grow the ability to see a new path forward and commit to it;
  • Develop the ability to adept in managing the transition to the new path;
  • Grow the skill in making the organization steerable and agile.

Great leaders lead their businesses successfully into the future.

If you want to be a great leader you need to ask yourself:

Where am I looking to anticipate change to my business?

The answer to this question is on your calendar. Check your appointments:

Who are you spending time with?

What topics are you usually discussing?

Where are you traveling?

What books are you reading?

Etc

How you are distilling this into finding potential discontinuities and then making a decision to do something right away so that you’re prepared and ready - this is what makes you a great leader.

2. Great leaders leverage a more diverse network.

Great leaders understand that having a diverse network is a source of pattern identification. This diversity allows you, as a leader to identify patterns at greater levels. It also supports you in finding new and unexpected solutions because you have people that are thinking differently than you are.

Diversity means more innovation. More diverse companies are simply more innovative.

One of the upshots of diversity is innovation.

Rocío Lorenzo, management consultant and diversity researcher has found that diverse organisations are more innovative. Her research clearly showed that diversity could be a competitive advantage and a business goal.

Gender diversity is the first business development strategy that leaders implement into their organisations.

For gender diversity to have an impact on innovation businesses need to have more than 20% women in leadership. Alibaba, Apple and other innovative companies have reached this objective.

Let’s take Alibaba as an example: women account for 47% of Alibaba Group’s 50,000-plus employees with 33% being in senior roles.

Jack Ma understood this early on and turned it into a business goal.

This is his recommendation for you, as a leader:

Because last century people compared about muscle [but] this century people compare about wisdom. Hire as many women possible. This is what we did, and this is the secret sauce.

Jack Ma

In its latest study on global recruiting trends, LinkedIn identified diversity as the first of the 2018 hiring trends. Find out what these 2018 global recruiting trends are, discover how various companies apply them to their hiring processes and see the results these new tools have brought them: Global Recruiting Trends 2018 - LinkedIn Study.

So ask yourself:

What is the diversity measure of my personal and professional network?

We all have networks of people that we feel comfortable around, but the question is:

Are you capable of developing relationships with people that are very different than you?

Despite all these differences (race, politics, religion etc.), they cooperate with you in achieving a shared goal.

3. Great leaders dare to be different. They don’t just talk about risk taking, they actually do it.

Being comfortable is built in our DNA. There are many survival mechanisms that our mind triggers in order to stay safe and secure. It goes as further back as the times of Homo sapiens when man refrained from going into the darkness, into the unknown. Nevertheless, man dared to leave his safety behind and venture into new territories. He took the risk and it paid off.

It’s the same for great leaders. He or she who is courageous enough to abandon the past and the path well travelled will lead instead of following.

Yes, many people around you won’t hold back from telling you what they think of your fresh idea. You need to stand your ground. The most impactful development comes when you are able to build the emotional stamina to withstand people telling you your new idea is naive or wreckless or just plain stupid.

But what are the risks worth taking, you ask yourself?

Here is how you can decide if a particular risk is beneficial to your organisation:

  • New customers

If your new idea or path will allow you to meet new potential customers, take the risk. If you have the opportunity to tap into a new market or use a new way to reach new customers, take the risk.

Growing your customer base is always a risk worth taking.

  • Competitive edge

Concentrate on the risks that will give you a competitive advantage and take them.

Acquiring competitive edge is always a risk worth taking.

  • Innovation

It’s necessary for leaders to come up with new and innovative ideas to keep up with the changing times and customers’ needs. Build a company culture that nurtures innovation. Look into data, latest technology tools and hire people that will support your goal.

Innovation is always a risk worth taking.  

So ask yourself:

Am I courageous enough to abandon the past?

Maybe it’s a practise that has made you successful in the past. Or it’s the way your business has always done things: procedures, systems, goals and objectives, hiring process etc. The people who will join you are not in your usual circles, they are often people who think differently and therefore are willing to join you into taking this leap.

Summary

If you wish to become a great leader, you need to acquire and develop the skills that enable you to:

  • See breakthrough changes coming even before they happen and turn them into opportunities;
  • Surround yourself professionally with people from diverse walks of life and industries;
  • Take the risks worth taking.

The best leadership development doesn't happen by just going off to a course or a seminar … The best leadership development happens when people are learning in the context of their own strategic, economic agenda, with the actual people that they are going to influence and lead.

 

Roselinde Torres