The concept of VUCA, well before the pandemic entered our lives, was coined in the managerial lexicon as shorthand for “volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity.” And today, the need to learn how to lead in a world defined by those qualities has never been clearer.
Adaptability and flexibility have been, and will continue to be, required of us.
But what other skills should forward-thinking executives be honing in this era of constant change?
We heard from senior leaders about the skill sets they’re most looking to develop this year, so that they can stay ahead of whatever curve the business world is dealt next.
1. Trust-building capacity
“Your business may have changed shape due to the COVID pandemic; thus, trust is the cornerstone of a meaningful relationship between an organization and its stakeholders at both the individual and institutional levels,” Christina Green, a career coach with My Speech Class, said. “Lack of trust can impact anything from product quality to leadership and executive team performance to environmental, social, and governance (ESG) problems.”
2. New project management tools
“Being a C-suite employee, you need to have certain hard skills that can make your leadership more efficient and effective,” Daniel Cook, Head of Business Development at Mullen and Mullen, said. “One such skill that I find to be the most useful is knowing how to use project management apps smartly… they provide a holistic view of where the project currently stands and the initiatives required to achieve the end goal. Some applications that you can begin with are Asana, Trello and ClickUp.”
“The old work models simply won’t apply in a business world increasingly becoming more centered on remote work and AI collaboration,” Daniel Sathyanesan, CEO of Winden.co, said. “For that reason, managers are going to need to be willing to adjust to dramatic changes in the business environment – and prepare their workforce accordingly. Managers will need to adapt to new ways of measuring productivity and healthy work life.”
4. Data literacy
“When it comes to the topic of big data, it’s nearly an overused phrase. That doesn’t change the fact that it’s true,” Gerrid Smith, CMO of Joy Organics, said. “As never before, massive amounts of data are being collected for a variety of purposes, from optimizing industrial operations to keeping store shelves stocked to precisely targeting online advertisements.”
Because of that, data literacy will be vital “in many fields, not just those in the business analysis or data science fields,” Smith said.
“People who can organize data collecting, assess the outcomes and make judgments based on these findings are in great demand,” he added.
5. Strategic forecasting
“Executive activities do not happen in a vacuum, and the decisions made by these leaders frequently have repercussions,” Daniel Foley, Marketing & SEO Specialist at Scooter. Guide, said. “It’s not enough for executives to think of decisions as one-time occurrences. Treating possibilities as interconnected and imagining the chain reactions that could occur is a better strategy.”
6. Talent attraction and retention
“There is no doubt that executives’ No. 1 priority is to hire and hold on to the best and brightest in their organization,” Dandan Zhu, CEO of DG Recruit, said. “The best way to do this is to understand the hiring market and processes to best address candidate-dry conditions, have a large network of top headhunters to turn to, and to able to sell the opportunity beyond buzzwords of why their organization would be an ideal place to build one’s career within.”
7. Public speaking
“I think one of the most underrated experiences executives should be investing in for 2022 is public speaking,” Mario Cacciottolo, PR & Branding Manager at SBO, said. “It may sound a bit unusual, but there’s no denying that there has been a boom in video seminars and events which need experts to speak up in… Now is the perfect opportunity to be the expert on a panel, or speak to your audience directly through live video. It’s a great way to connect further with your current audience, as well as become a leader recognised for your expertise.”
8. Technology design and programming
“The success of a corporation and its projects will be determined by knowing what software solutions help to cope with complexity, manage project risks, and secure outcomes,” Smith said. “In multi-project setups, complex projects are prevalent, with many dependencies and – all too often – disastrous judgments. Consider project management software such as Epicflow, which is created specifically for handling many projects at the same time.”
9. Change management
“For top executives, the ability to handle change is becoming increasingly important,” Marc Stitt, CMO of FMX, said. “They must be able to identify possibilities for change and then lead their organization through the process of implementing a proactive strategy. Learning about change management is an important part of the executive skill set that is often underestimated, but it can be a key differentiator for leaders.”
“Advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI and ML) are a major contributor to the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” Ernests Embutnieks, CEO of perfectgift4, said. “Employers and entrepreneurs seeking to revolutionize and streamline our daily lives and work processes will be looking for individuals with AI abilities who can design and deploy new artificial intelligence systems. An understanding of AI and machine learning will be tremendously beneficial to people in other job areas who will be utilizing AI in their operations, as well as the managers who will be in charge of the project.”
“Less experienced managers frequently make the error of rushing in to solve their subordinates’ problems rather than training them, or of focusing solely on their own performance and metrics rather than empowering others,” Adam Wood, Co-Founder of RevenueGeeks, said. “Great leaders understand that it is their obligation to assist those around them in becoming the best versions of themselves… Such leaders understand how to steer team members toward a solution without directly providing the answer, as well as how to ignite ideas, provide support, and motivate the team.”
Find more leadership advice on the blog.