The 7 deadly skills of the perfect leader

This is a guest blog from Kevin Young, managing director of Skillsoft EMEA.


Employing and retaining strong and capable managers is becoming increasingly difficult as there just aren’t enough candidates with the right skills or levels of experience. Figures released by the 2012 National Management Survey, carried out by the Chartered Management Institute, showed that 59 per cent of employers were struggling to recruit the right calibre of manager in 2011.


Here, Kevin Young, Managing Director of Skillsoft EMEA, outlines the seven deadly skills that every manager should strive to have and what organisations should be looking for in their future leaders.


1.   Be an effective communicator – lead by example

The success of a manager largely depends on their ability to communicate effectively with all those around them; organisations want managers that are able to both understand and be understood. Written communication needs to have clear direction, accurate facts and the appropriate language – nothing should be left to the guess work of the recipient. On top of this, oral communication is a must-have skill for any manager. The ability to speak with confidence, credibility and poise, and also with enthusiasm, will motivate others and boost productivity.


2.   Motivator, innovator

Organisations and managers alike shouldn’t forget that leaders are the catalyst for achieving success. Leaders are not often born, they are made. Through training, experience and personal development good managers can be created and nurtured so they become invaluable business assets. They will seek out more challenging assignments, always meet deadlines and line staff will respect their direction. A team that is lead by a good motivator and an inspiring innovator will ultimately achieve.


3.   Be a strategic thinker

Strategic thinking is a term that affects managers at all levels and can impact on an entire organisation. For middle-managers this is difficult as they feel they are shouldering a lot of responsibility without really having any power. Although being caught between senior managers and line staff can be challenging, there is an opportunity to play an important role. The reality is that senior managers rely on the middle-manager to translate their priorities and directives so that goals can be achieved. Senior managers need to use strategic thinking to identify goals to drive a business forward and lead to future growth.


Needless to say, no matter at what level they sit, all managers rely on each other to convey important messages.


4.   Spotting and harnessing exceptional talent 

A good leader will cultivate the right team that will meet objectives and give your company that competitive edge. It is vital that talent spotting and development are treated as a top priority, especially in this economic climate. Managers also need to remember that talent may come from within your organisation, so shouldn’t rush to look for external options as their next leaders could be right next to them.


5.   Discovering and nurturing your business acumen

Bridging the gap between management skills and business expertise can be a challenge for the most successful leader. By developing the business acumen of company managers, organisations will see new and compelling business strategies becoming defined, but the right skills must be in place. To possess business acumen, managers must understand their company’s market place, its position within it and where improvements can be made. A thorough understanding of the business landscape will also help managers recognise and learn how external change can affect a company’s success.


6.   A beautiful mind – solving problems and decision making

Decision making and problem solving are important skills in both life and business. One tends to incorporate the other, but techniques can be learnt to make the process quicker and ensure better results. Analysing a situation and identifying problems is a key business process, but as with being a leader, it does not come naturally to most of us. Decision making training can help leaders focus on each problem and deal with it in the appropriate manner. It will improve managers’ skills and help them make more of an impact in their organisation.


7.   Adapting to an ever-changing business landscape

Business is an area where change is one of the only constants. Managers must learn to embrace these changes and seek out creative ways of dealing with the accelerating speed of modern business life. Whatever the change, good communication is crucial; listening to fears, questions or concerns from your line staff is key to helping them cope with any changes. Responding well to change will inspire your team and will show that you can adapt to any situation.


The importance of management training: helping your leaders grow


Good management skills do not always come easily but even if they do, training is vital. Skilled leaders can provide both immediate and long term benefit. By helping your managers to develop, your business will prosper, maximise its potential and enjoy a competitive environment. The right training will expose talents that may have previously been hidden and will offer managers the opportunity to be at the cutting edge of new business innovations.


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