7 Skills Tomorrow’s Top Leaders are Developing Today

8 skills tomorrow's top leaders are developing today

This week, I’ll be at a conference giving a talk on Culture and Storytelling, following which I’ll be part of a panel discussion about the Future of Work, and specifically about developing current, millennial talent into future leaders. It’s interesting to note the skills toward which organizations seem to be migrating as it relates to what they’re looking for in their future leaders. Want to get ahead of the curve? Here are the skills tomorrow’s top leaders are developing today.

Skills Tomorrow’s Top Leaders are Developing Today: Being Others-Oriented

It’s funny, because in a prominent report released by the World Economic Forum, they called something similar to this idea “service orientation.” Of course, readers of this blog know that I’m a big advocate of servant leadership, so it’s interesting to see others tip-toe towards something like it.

Skills Tomorrow’s Top Leaders are Developing Today: Persuasion, Logic, & Negotiation

Or perhaps we could title this section “How to Effectively Persuade and Negotiate without Being a Manipulative, Coercive Jerk.”

The old methods of “persuasion” are increasingly frowned upon by an increasingly aware workforce. In the past, if a boss, exec, or CEO wore a nice suit, brandished a smile, said all the right things to the right people (to their faces, anyway), and was dishonest, manipulative, and even Machiavellian in ways that he wouldn’t get caught for, all was well as long as the numbers looked good.

However, organizations that are positioning themselves to be healthy and sustainable in the future understand that their leaders need to conceptualize persuasion and negotiation quite differently. They need to be understood as being accomplished not with power, position, coercion, or even deception; but rather through logic, reason, and with an eye toward the good of the whole.

This shift is accomplished by people focusing on viewing persuasion as a means to convince, not coerce, others. The study of logic is a helpful tool as well. If you pay attention in meetings where topics are being debated, it’s amazing how many more participants are there by the end of the meeting than there were at the beginning, on account of all the straw men.

[bctt tweet=”Good leaders view persuasion as a means to convince, not coerce. #leadership #companyculture” username=”MattMonge”]

Skills Tomorrow’s Top Leaders are Developing Today: Reframing

That may sound vague and a bit nebulous, but hang in there.

Increasingly, organizations are looking for people who possess the ability to think about organizations, problems, and situations in different ways. Reframing issues and seeing them more holistically is a critical skill from both an individual perspective and leadership perspective. Similarly, being able to think about problems from multiple angles while at the same time being cognizant of your biases and minimizing them to the extent you’re able is a valuable tool. It enables you to better evaluate ideas — including your own — for weaknesses, blind spots, etc.

[bctt tweet=”Leaders must be able to evaluate ideas – especially their own – for blind spots. #leadership” username=”MattMonge”]

Skills Tomorrow’s Top Leaders are Developing Today: Knowing How to Think about and Make Decisions

You’ll notice I framed this one a bit differently than most do. Most of the time, it’s simply “decision-making” that is listed as a requisite skill for those seeking to be high-performers or leaders.

However, I think we know intuitively that it’s more than that, and I happen to think it’s much more than that.

What seems to have happened somewhere along the way is that people began confusing being decisive with being a good decision-maker; and not only are those not the same thing, but they’re also not always true of the same person at the same time. Someone can be decisive, but a terrible decision-maker. Trust me. I’ve seen it. I’m sure you’ve seen it too.

[bctt tweet=”Being ‘decisive’ is not the same as being a good decision-maker. #leadership #companyculture” username=”MattMonge”]

That’s why it’s important for those wishing to be prepared for the future of work to think about how they think in general, but for the purposes of this particular discussion, it’s wise to think about how we think about, and then subsequently make, decisions.

What’s the mental framework we use? What presuppositions do we bring to the table? What core values are we using as filters? How, exactly, do you think? And then how, exactly, do you think through scenarios requiring you to come to decisions? 

Skills Tomorrow’s Top Leaders are Developing Today: The Ability to Work and Build Community with Others

This is another one of those areas within this list where Mojo takes a slightly different angle on the topic, and this time, it’s the whole “teamwork” thing.

Forever going forward, the ability to play well with others is going to be important. And it’s been important ever since your pre-K teacher expressed concern to your parent or guardian about you walloping your classmate in the head with a Tonka truck when he poked fun at your head size. (I may or may not have had a bad experience.)

What varies, though, is how folks conceptualize what exactly this looks like. I’d argue that since organizations are communities of humans living and working together everyday, the best teams — the ones who trust each other and perform at high levels — are the ones whose foundation is built on humanness and vulnerability. Layer on top of that the tenets of servant leadership, one of which is the emphasis on building community, and you have a very potent leadership and organizational dynamic.

[bctt tweet=”Great leaders build community. #leadership #companyculture” username=”MattMonge”]

Skills Tomorrow’s Top Leaders are Developing Today: Leadership


I suppose this one almost (almost) goes without saying, but the thing is, I’ve just heard so many people talk about being a leader or a manager or heck, even a CEO, and yet when you ask them what they’re doing to learn and grow and improve as a leader, they either say nothing at all or just sort of stumble around and mention this or that little thing they did a week or twelve ago.

Obviously, that’s not going to cut it. The ones who are going to be successful leaders in the future are the ones who are going to put in the work — real work — now to learn and grow as leaders.

Skills Tomorrow’s Top Leaders are Developing Today: Understanding Humanness & Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence, as you likely know, is made up of four basic components: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management. As leaders, each of those plays a vital role in our ability to lead well.

Coupled with that, though, is the necessity of really digging into humanness and understanding its foundational role in team and organizational life. Though technology continues to grow increasingly integrated into our work, rather than decreasing the need for humanness, it’s actually the opposite that’s true. That’s why those who do the hard work of understanding and implementing systems, dynamics, and cultures with humanness at their core will be ahead of the game going forward.

So what do you think? What would you add to the list? Feel free to leave them in the comments below!

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