What’s In Your Quiver? Leadership Skills for the Future of Work was originally published on Ivy Exec.
We often hear about the “toolbelt” of skills, where we apply our know-how and experience to a variety of workplace contexts. But Rhonda Joy McLean, President and CEO of RJMLEADS LLC, a New York City leadership consulting firm, envisions this idea somewhat differently: as a quiver full of arrows.
The arrows necessary for success in the future of work are different than those necessary in the past, she suggests in her webinar for Ivy Exec, “New Leadership Skills for the Future of Work: What’s in Your Quiver?” The leaders of tomorrow will deploy their personal values, authentic selves, collaborative spirits, and authenticity to be successful in their roles.
Rhonda argues that we may not even know which skills are valuable to prioritize if we are seeking leadership positions. As you prepare for the future of work, what leadership competencies and qualities are most necessary to hone?
Reflective listening is all about hearing the other person, not just waiting for them to finish talking before you talk. At the same time, it’s important not to have expectations of what the other person is going to say before they say it.
Because she is a self-described big talker, Rhonda has taken several courses on reflective listening over the years.
“I have what I call busy brain syndrome. Many of you have it as well. We’re always thinking, what’s the next best thing, what do I need now? It’s hard to pull away from that, to be in a moment with the person who’s speaking and to really listen,” she says.
The best way to develop reflective listening skills is by building your empathy skills in tandem. If you care about what others have to say – and also want them to bring their full selves to the table – empathy is important.
Rhonda says that there has never been a time when it was more necessary to be aware of people’s mental health, their anxieties, and their fears that their current jobs will be eliminated.
So, though most would-be leaders were taught to be objective, even stoic, especially in dealing with their teams, this is no longer a valuable course of action. Instead, Rhonda argues the opposite is true: teams are inspired when leaders show their humanity.
“I think showing your vulnerability makes you stronger and actually more acceptable to the people that you’re leading. So make sure you’re comfortable with your own feelings and be aware of the feelings of others,” she says.
In a business world that relies more on artificial intelligence, formulas, or algorithms, Rhonda still believes in listening to your gut. Especially when business leaders are tasked with making decisions when they have limited information and limited talent, this reliance on gut is even more important.
At the same time, she is not recommending leaders hold onto their gut decisions with everything they have. If circumstances change, or new information arises, they should be adaptable enough to re-group.
“I think the best leaders are strong enough and confident enough to go with their gut in the moment when the facts are before them. Then, if they find out later that there was information that would sway them in a different direction, they have the guts to say, You know, we’ve learned more, and I really feel that we need to move in a different direction,” Rhoda says.
Rhonda believes that management intelligence involves understanding your team and focusing on how their cultural backgrounds, ages, and work histories make them into the people they are. Connecting with others who are not like you can offer you keen insight into your own weaknesses and help you adapt to the modern world of work.
“I’ve learned a lot from my reverse mentors who’ve helped me manage my devices more easily and also have some ideas about how to reach out, particularly to an inter-generational workforce,” she says.
On the same token, Rhonda suggests that managers need to be willing to accept feedback so they can become even more relevant to their teams. In connection with other competencies like emotional intelligence, managers who request feedback will be perceived as sincere and willing to grow. In turn, they should also adopt feedback accordingly and change intentionally.
“Change is the only constant. Be prepared that you’re going to need to transition to a different work style. A different workplace, a different workforce. A different brand, a different logo, a different marketing strategy. Change is the only thing that doesn’t change. So be ready,” Rhonda says.
Holstering Your Quiver
In sum, future workplace leaders will need to bring more of their authentic selves to the table. At the same time, they need to see their team members as people with lives outside of the office. Ultimately, then, those with leadership aspirations need to hone their EQ, along with their IQ, so they can develop themselves and build effective teams.