Six fresh leadership skills


Dated leadership practices are giving way to fresh leadership insights and capabilities.
Group of young adults, photographed from above, on various painted tarmac surface, at sunrise.
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As remote, flexible and hybrid work keeps evolving, so must the leaders leading teams in these environments.

Dated leadership practices are giving way to fresh leadership insights and capabilities.

While capabilities like empathy, communication and having difficult conversations may have become even more in demand in recent times, changes to work and workplaces are driving the need for an additional capability lift.

Consider these six fresh capabilities. How do you perform against them?

  1. Rapid Rapport

Building rapport is a communication staple but in an increasingly remote and online world, how can that be accelerated? Opportunities to build rapport and connection in person are different to online and remote. There may be little opportunity to observe body language or break the ice in an elevator ride or while waiting for a coffee order to arrive at a cafe.

Situations like onboarding a new team member who may have had only online conversations in the interview process, present opportunities for different styles of communication, welcoming and rapport when they come into the office in person.

  • Facilitation

There is often a need to actively engage and connect with people, to bring them into the work to be done. This can become more complicated when teams are distributed and remote.

Consider shift workers, time zones, flexible working attendance and individual diaries and schedules: facilitating through these differences even when it feels messy or out of control is increasingly a part of how leadership is today.  

A facilitation maxim of ‘meet people where they are’ is wise advice here. Whatever people are doing, whatever their level of engagement, connection or understanding, leaders can begin work with them from that situation or position.

  • Elicitation

How can a team participate and contribute to the best of their abilities? A fresh and contemporary leadership capability is being able to elicit, extract and ‘draw out’ people’s contributions, thoughts and ideas. This skill is part science, part art, and just asking people ‘any questions’ at the end of a meeting doesn’t demonstrate or deliver on it.

People have more to contribute than questions. There are experiences, stories, thoughts, examples, ideas, concerns, compliments and other input to give. Invite, encourage and then let people give, give, give. It’s often rich and rewarding content that can contribute to higher levels of team connection, engagement and performance.

  • Inclusion making

Leaders need to think differently about how to bring a diverse team together for greater cohesion. There are opportunities for individuals to get to know and learn from each other. For example, peer learning, is where learning from those we work with becomes an immediate, practical and accessible way of building inclusion.

The individual stories, life experiences, cultures and practices of a diverse team are vital for more effective collaboration and psychological safety in an organisation. Leaders who leverage this strength are the kinds of leaders people want to work with… and follow.

  • Bias breaking

Leaders need to be alert to the biases that exist in the modern workplace. For example, when a team member delivered a leadership presentation at the quarterly team day and each of the stories, examples and books they shared were about or by older white males, this bias was named and called out by team members. While recognising great entrepreneurs and thinkers is important, so is diversity. Where is the thinking from people of colour, women, people with disabilities and neuro-divergent people?

Leaders may need to coach team members to search beyond the first layers of innovation quotes and stories that cite only Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs or Elon Musk.

  • Meaning making

Having purpose is an important part of deriving meaning from our work and lives. Leaders can’t leave it to chance that the work people are doing will always make sense and meaning, particularly in times of change. Connecting team actions to the organisation’s goals and strategy can be worthy work. When team members understand the bigger picture and purpose they are part of, meaning is made and greater engagement often results.

Having conversations about purpose and meaning is time well spent and many leaders build these topics into regular team meetings, performance reviews and planning sessions. Learning and insights are shared and deeper connections are made.

Above all of these capabilities, listening, responding and validating people’s situations, stories and concerns continue to be some of the most powerful leadership capabilities. Having a solid and respectful leader in times that are tough is often what employees value most of all.

Lynne Cazaly is a work futurist and expert in new ways of thinking, leading and working. She is a keynote speaker and 10 x author. Find out more at