6 Leadership Skills for 21st Century Business

The business landscape is changing rapidly in response to a number of factor including changing markets and technology developments. Accordingly, the skills required of leaders are changing too. In order to innovate, leaders need to think cross-culturally and be versatile.

According to U.S. News & World Report, the $115,000/year median starting salary for MBA graduates in 2019 was the highest one yet. However, as the article also notes, the best jobs go to graduates with strong hard skills and soft skills.

When talking about leadership in the business environment, here are six of the most important skills that employers look for:

  1. Being adaptable

Leading a business in the 21st century means being ready for whatever comes your way. Technology revolutions, changes in the workforce, and economic flux are examples of change that leaders need to embrace. Seeing unexpected changes or challenges as opportunities to learn and innovate can help you grow as a leader.

It’s important to be knowledgeable in multiple areas. An adaptable person who is well-informed can provide solutions to issues that are not necessarily in the scope of their day-to-day activities.

  1. Thinking globally

You must be familiar with different kinds of online platforms and social media. They are our gateway to the rest of the world, and a savvy leader will be skilled in using these tools to create intercultural and intergenerational exchange. Knowledge of trending international topics — like sustainability, for instance — is also a must.

  1. Inspiring trust

A true leader in any field knows that gaining trust is key to team success. Business leaders are no exception. In order to gain trust and foster a productive environment, it is important to be attentive to the well-being of others, exercise fairness when making decisions, and give credit when it’s due.

Leaders who acknowledge a job well done and offer honest, constructive feedback can help their staff feel supported. If others believe their thoughts and ideas are welcomed, they are more likely to come forward when they have something to say.

  1. Building a team

Effective communication forms the basis for team-building. Transparency is also important: keeping all members of the team informed about what’s happening ensures that everyone feels included.

A leader who thinks at a global level will also take into consideration the different backgrounds of team members and not only learn how to bring out the best in each, but also cultivate a respectful and empathetic workspace. Connecting with everyone both formally and informally paves the way for better workplace relationships overall.

  1. Having a vision and goal

A focus on the end result ensures that projects will run efficiently. Having your priorities clearly aligned is the antidote to chaos.

Leading a collective means seeing how all the parts fit and work together to achieve a common goal, and it is your job as the leader to gauge what the endpoint should be. This requires emotional and strategic intelligence. Anticipating problems before they appear can help you stay ahead of the game.

  1. Taking responsibility

As a leader, you are responsible for your team or department. You are a model to those around you and, in order to hold people accountable for their actions, you must also be responsible for yours. Being courageous and reliable, admitting when you’ve made mistakes, and then learning from them are signs of strong leadership.


Learn more about Florida Gulf Coast University’s online MBA program with a concentration in Management – Leadership.



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