8 Leadership skills for a complex business world

8 Leadership skills for a complex business world

Murali Hariharan

Director - Strategy & Business Consulting


Today’s businesses demand a lot from their leadership teams. Lifetimes are measured in business quarters, with ever increasing pressure on profits and returns to shareholders.

Likewise, for startup entrepreneurs, there are limited chances to experiment, fail, discover and execute.

In an environment like this, there are greater challenges on business leaders than ever before. So, this is a good time to review some of the core qualities that leadership must exhibit, to succeed in the long-run.

  1. Manage Complexity – Effective leaders recognize that complexity is inherent in the environment today. They learn to anticipate, prepare and plan with this in mind. Problem solving and decision-making in fast changing environments is critical for success. Even before any definitive information is available, effective leaders must assess a situation’s complexity and choose appropriate courses of action.


  1. Global business awareness – In a highly networked world, it is absolutely critical to maintain a global focus on a day-to-day basis. This includes assessing consumers, competitors, regulators, politics, security status, business travel opportunities and challenges as well as other related parameters- to ensure awareness, preparedness and proactive responses to the global dynamics


  1. Strategic Agility – Be strategic in thinking, yet be open to take advantage of emerging opportunities or react to unexpected challenges. Unlike the older era, where strategies had the time to develop and become fruitful, in the fast paced environment, it is important to set frameworks, and be agile within those frameworks to leverage, change, adapt and engage.


  1. Foster Innovation and create leveraged models – One of the key elements of business is to be able to always foster innovation across all elements of business – revenue model, market engagement models, research and product development, resourcing models; except for accounting, of course!!


  1. Communication – In a fast paced business, there is little time for strategic direction to percolate to the execution teams. Moreover, the hierarchical lines of communications are rather blurred in the connected systems. It is therefore, doubly important to reach out to the extended teams and engage with them constantly- formally and informally, to ensure that the entire organization is working towards a common goal and purpose.


  1. Adaptability and learning – The leader is constantly in learning mode- reading, observing, experimenting and having specialist teams that can actually run experiments without disturbing the core business. Rapid prototyping teams can work with alternative ideas and models to set plans for further growth. Together with good communication, this allows the entire organization to stay ahead of the market and the competition.


  1. Persistence, with a quality team– For any leader to succeed, it is important to have a good team that the leader can trust and back. Therefore, it is critical to have an eye for people and be willing to be persistent in backing them, even in the face of adversity. Selecting the right second string leadership and then building a team of doers and dreamers together with this leadership is critical to long term business success.


  1. Fearlessness – One of the more underrated attributes of a leader is confidence and a self-belief that comes from self-awareness and a clear value system, enabling integrity and clarity in decision making.   This characteristic alone separates many leaders from their own peers.


Is the above the complete laundry list of all characteristics of a good leader?  And, how are Managers different from Leaders?

No, not really. A high level of general awareness, an ability to win friends and influence people, setting personal examples, active listening skills, an open work environment and overall business maturity are among many other soft skills that are important for leadership success.


Please do leave your comments at the bottom and do share with others if you like this article.

Please do leave your comments at the bottom and do share with others if you like this article.

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