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3 Skills You Need To Lead Your Company

In a survey, top executive headhunters said every leader needs to be a strategic thinker, technologically savvy, and a team player.
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Do you have what it takes to run your company successfully?

Boris Groysberg, a professor of business administration at Harvard Business School, surveyed senior search consultants at a global executive-placement firm to find out what the headhunters are looking for in leaders.

The top requirement, Groysberg writes in Harvard Business Review, is a strong ability to lead. It's an obvious trait, but the survey respondents specified different types of leadership that may be the most useful: "inspirational leadership," "leadership in a non-authoritarian manner that works with today's executive talent," "take-charge leadership," "leadership balanced with authenticity, respect for others, and trust building," and "strategic leadership."

The style of leadership required depends on the company's specific needs, the consultants told Groysberg. If a company has suffered problems with ethics, then an ethical leader is sought; if a company needs to be saved from financial ruin, then a "visionary" leader is needed.

Read on to find out the other skills the survey found today's leaders require.

1. A capacity to think and act strategically

The respondents ranked "strategic foresight," or the ability to think strategically in a global business setting, as the second-most important skill a leader needs to have. "One consultant stressed the ability to 'set the strategic direction' for the organization; another equated strategic thinking with 'integrative leadership,'" Groysberg writes. "Others emphasized that strategic thinking also calls for the ability to execute a vision, which one respondent called 'operating savvy' and another defined as 'a high standard in execution.'"

2. Tech savvy

Groysberg's survey found that technology skills and technical literacy are the third-most required skills for leaders. "A C-level executive needs to understand how technology is impacting their organization and how to exploit technology," one respondent told Groysberg. Other headhunters, he writes, sought leaders with "financial acumen" and "industry-specific content knowledge."

3. The ability to be a team player

The fourth-most important skill according to the survey, Groysberg says, was team- and relationship-building expertise. "A world-class leader must be able to hire and develop an exceptionally strong leadership team--he/she cannot succeed as a brilliant one-person player," a respondent told him. Further, another said, a leader must be "team-oriented, capable of multitasking continuously, leading without rank, resisting stress, ensuring that subordinates do not suffer burnout--and do all of this with a big smile in an open-plan office."

To read all seven of the skills Groysberg's survey identified, click here.

IMAGE: Getty Images
Last updated: Mar 18, 2014

WILL YAKOWICZ | Staff Writer | Reporter, Inc.com

Will Yakowicz is a staff writer for Inc. magazine. He has covered business, crime, and local politics for The Brooklyn Paper and was the editor of Park Slope Patch. He has also reported in the West Bank and Moscow for Tablet Magazine. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.




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