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WNC Business

Increasing skill sets for new leaders creates opportunities

Jan 16, 2024 10:37AM ● By Randee Brown

Though managerial leadership skill sets can vary from company to company, one of the most valuable skills for any business leader is effective communication, according to Western Carolina University’s Executive Director of Educational Outreach Carolyn Callaghan.

Managerial leadership qualities may vary from company to company or industry to industry, but understanding the value proposition of the company and translating that value to the business’s employees and customer base is the foundation of any leader’s attributes. 

Leaders must gain a thorough understanding of their business’s key positioning indicators. Developing a strong value proposition based on the KPIs can help guide leaders on how to help their business stand out in the industry. Once that knowledge is gained, leaders can better communicate that to their team, who can then more effectively share why customers should do business with their company instead of its competition.

Different generations working together may react differently to messages, so determining the best communication style for each team member and employee can make a difference. What a typical workplace looks like continues to shift post-pandemic, which can create challenges in communication and conflict resolution. Leaders must assess the ability for everyone to effectively talk to one another, whether onsite or online.

“It’s critical for leaders to interpret the personalities of employees and play to their strengths and styles,” Callaghan said. “This can help leaders relay data and information more effectively, run more meaningful meetings, and offer more impactful presentations.”

Since COVID, many people are doing more of what they want and taking more chances, according to Callaghan. There is more mobility and people are becoming better adept at crossing careers. While many skills are transferable between careers, people also develop new skills for their new industry.

As people rise to leadership positions in their new career because of their gained skills and increasing expertise, it’s important new leaders gain the additional skill sets necessary when they reach upper-level positions. To effectively lead a team and maintain the business’s growth, leadership skills that may not have been needed before become increasingly important to develop.

“They need to become an influencer for their team and staff to keep people motivated and moving forward,” Callaghan said. “Performing a strengths assessment and becoming aware of someone’s blind spots in order to become more self-aware can be the hardest part for them to overcome, but it can be helpful for anyone.”

Some companies are getting better at thinking about their own succession plans, according to Callaghan. She is seeing many companies growing their own leadership teams by actions like investing in customized training programs.

“Highly-detailed, specialized training programs provide skill sets to leaders they’ll need to develop their company’s strategic initiatives,” Callaghan said. “These business owners get to be a part of planning for their team’s growth, and these kinds of investments speak volumes about their dedication to the company and its values.”

As leaders learn new concepts that can be put into place, it can change how they look at their world of work. Knowing their personal value proposition and how employees and team members receive that can create feelings of satisfaction and fulfillment in their role.

“It’s not an intentional mindset shift, but it happens organically when leaders learn and realize the best ways to inspire their staff,” Callaghan said. “Many did not originally have leadership goals for their careers but ended up in leadership positions, and that can open up a whole world of what opportunities are there for them."