The CEO Institute: Five Essential Leadership Skills Needed in 2022 - Michelle Gibbings

In this article for The CEO Institute, Michelle writes that effective leadership still eludes many despite the many thousands of leadership books and models. At the same time, the business environment is getting more, not less, complex. Both factors mean the expectations of leaders are increasing.

Management and Leadership expert, Gary Hamel, argues that how we manage in the last 50 – 60 years has hardly changed, and it needs to change.

In 2022, to forge ahead, leaders need to be ready to confront the challenges of this rapidly changing world by finding their personal leadership edge. Consequently, how you focus and your emphasis may differ from other leaders.

Know your context

Leadership is never one size fits all. The most effective leadership style is sometimes situationally driven, with circumstances dictating the best approach.

For example, when facing a crisis, you need to decide quickly and sometimes with limited consultation. Whereas, when leading an organisation through a large scale transformation, consultation and negotiation are paramount.

Be clear on your operating context and how it has shifted and needs to shift in the coming years.

Elevate awareness

Next, critically examine your leadership style and identify any derailers that undermine your effectiveness and ability to engage and lead well.

This process involves you being willing to look at what needs to change in you – before seeking to change others.

Ask yourself: What are people saying or not saying to you?  Are you the last person to hear bad news? Is your team functioning as a high performing team with psychological safety

Respect matters

When leaders mistreat their direct reports, this behaviour flows down the hierarchy. In a joint study, conducted by Vanderbilt University, Cornell University and the University of Illinois, of 1527 full-time employees at 94 hotels across the United States and Canada, researchers found a positive correlation between middle managers’ satisfaction with their senior managers and the line employees’ satisfaction with their middle managers.

It’s a trickle-down effect. When leaders mistreat their direct reports, this dysfunction cascades through the organisation.

Employees are motivated when they are valued and respected.

Georgetown University’s Associate Professor of Management, Christine Porath, found that respect tops the charts for employees. Her survey of 20,000 employees worldwide, conducted in conjunction with Harvard Business Review and Tony Schwarz, found being treated with respect was more important to employees than recognition and appreciation, having an inspiring vision, receiving feedback, and having opportunities for learning and development.

The research found that respected employees reported: 56% better health and well-being, 1.72 times more trust and safety, 89% more enjoyment and job satisfaction and 92% greater focus and prioritisation.

Ditch dated paradigms

Leaders are often told to be visionary, sure and clear. To be all-knowing, with no doubt and all the answers. In a changing world, it’s impossible to have all the answers.

Good leadership isn’t about hierarchy and power, which means many old paradigms about what it means to be a leader no longer work.

Instead, curiosity and courage, and emotions such as care, compassion, empathy and gratitude are far more relevant.  Humans are emotional beings, so recognising, accepting, and working with emotions is crucial for success.

You choose

Leadership is about choice.

Each day as a leader, you face a choice about how you connect, engage and lead, how you consult and decide, and what you do and don’t do.

Your decisions either create a culture of denial and exclusion or an environment of opportunity and inclusion – for you and your team.

The choice is yours as to the leader you want to be in 2022. Remember, when you start being the leader you could be and embrace your unique leadership style, you’ll see the best in yourself and those around you.

Here’s to you being the best leader you can be in 2022.

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