Skillsoft Blog

The 7 Deadly Skills of the Perfect Leader

By Tony Glass

In 2014, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Management (APPGM), in partnership with the CMI, decided to investigate how management and leadership in the UK will need to change by 2020 to deliver sustainable economic growth. Their report makes for some very interesting reading around the state of management and leadership in the UK, and highlights the dire need for companies to take a cold hard look at how they are preparing for the future with regard to this. Particularly in light of the fact that government data shows that the UK labour market will need one million new managers by 2020.

Worryingly, 71% of the leaders surveyed admitted they could do better at training first-time managers, or don’t train them at all. This could leave potentially 150,000 employees a year taking on management roles without adequate preparation, a most dire prospect indeed.

The report estimates that poor management could be costing UK businesses over £19.3bn a year in lost working hours, a figure that reinforces the idea that this is a problem that needs our immediate attention.

However, ask any HR person worth their salt and they will confirm that the problem is a bit of a Catch 22. Attracting the right candidates can be costly and the funds aren’t available—yet how do you attract the best if you can’t offer ta competitive package?

The solution to this, and the management issue in its entirety, just might be that like charity, good leadership starts in the home. That you start to invest in the people you already have.

Since training comes with a price tag, it might be beneficial to first identify those employees who would make good managers and leaders. Understanding what it takes to be a manager is not always a simple process, but there are seven common traits most people agree upon as necessary and fundamental to the role of leadership. Look for an employee who:

  1. Communicates effectively – A manager is many different things to different people. To your direct reports, you are the person they look to when a decision needs to be made or a problem needs to be solved and to those above you, you are the person who needs to deliver results and help to drive the business forward. Therefore, to be a successful manager you need to be able to communicate effectively with others, to both understand and be understood.
  2. Motivates, innovates – Managers are expected to increase performance, to motivate those around them, and find ways to raise profits. They are expected to try new ideas, change direction, and adapt to shifts in the marketplace as business demands change.
  3. Thinks strategically – One of the biggest issues faced by middle managers is the feeling that they carry a lot of responsibility without having any real power. Being caught in the middle between senior managers and line staff can often be challenging, but managers need to be able to identify ways or goals that will increase or improve business.
  4. Can spot exceptional talent – Sometimes, companies look too hard for talent outside business when the perfect candidate is in front of them. It’s easy to take for granted the capabilities of the people you see every day. Whilst internal candidates may need a little direction or specialist training, they could have many of the qualities you are looking for.
  5. Has business acumen – Many successful, decision-making leaders struggle to bridge the gap between general management skills and business expertise. The skills are there, but underutilised. Given the opportunity to practice these skills, leaders will flourish.
  6. Solves problems and makes good decisions – Decision-making and problem-solving are important skills in both life and business. One usually incorporates the other – problem-solving often requires a decision to be made whilst a good decision will usually be made once certain problems have been solved.
  7. Adapts to change – Business is an area where change is constant. It’s important that managers embrace these changes and seek out creative ways of dealing with the accelerating speed of modern business life.

Skillsoft’s Business Skills Course Collection offers a wide range of learning materials, all designed to help you develop the soft skills of your future leaders thereby ensuring your future. 

For more information, download the white paper here.

Tony Glass is General Manager, EMEA, at Skillsoft.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

(URLs automatically linked.)

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)