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Beyond Strategy, Tomorrow’s Leaders Are Expected to Do It All

Tomorrow’s top leaders will not only set vision and corporate strategy, but they will also make sure that strategies are executed properly. They will also be expected to develop talent, foster innovation and model their company values. That’s according to a new global survey commissioned by American Management Association (AMA) and conducted by the Human Resource Institute (HRI). Essentially, tomorrow’s leaders will be expected to do it all.

The AMA/HRI survey on “Leading into the Future” included responses from 1,573 managers and HR experts around the world. It found that the number one driver of changes that will have an impact on leadership is “increased global competition,” followed by “the need to focus on customers,” then “assuring operational efficiency” and, finally, to “adapt to the accelerating pace of change.”

“In corporate life today, leaders are operating in a period of heightened expectations and increased scrutiny,” said Edward T. Reilly, AMA’s president and CEO. “Many executives are worried about the future and what the leadership competencies will be. This unprecedented survey identifies the essential skills, tools and approaches needed both today and in the future as companies prepare employees for leadership positions at all levels in the organization,” Reilly added.

Leadership Competencies

According to the survey, the two most highly ranked leadership competencies, both today and 10 years from now, are “strategy development” and “communication skills.” That is, leaders have to figure out how to deal with global competition and then communicate, communicate, communicate. The ability to execute strategy requires both flexibility and an openness to change.

The next most highly ranked leadership competencies are related to the “development and recruitment of talent” and to the “fostering of creativity and innovation.” Indeed, the most impressive shift over the next 10 years is the fact that fostering innovation becomes an even more important competency than talent-related issues. Respondents think that innovation will be an absolute key to staying competitive in a fast-paced global marketplace.

Then there are two other overarching leadership competencies: “know the business well enough to drive results” and “model the values of the organization.” This means that leaders must be able to cope with those nitty-gritty business issues on the ground even while modeling the ideals—including the ethics—of the company. What’s more, the ability to model values and show ethical leadership will grow more important over the next 10 years, while the need to know the business will become a bit less important.

In addition to being excellent strategists and communicators—tomorrow’s leaders must be nurturers of creativity, expert developers and recruiters of talent, upholders of corporate values, and drivers of business results. In short, they’ll have to be well-rounded people characterized by a potent mixture of both soft and hard leadership skills, and they’ll need to know just how and when to move from one role to another.

The AMA/HRI survey was conducted in conjunction with AMA’s global affiliates and partners, including Canadian Management Centre, Management Center de Mexico, Management Centre Europe, and AMA Asia.

To read the entire survey findings, visit AMA’s Website at http://www.amanet.org.