10 Key Skills to Sharpen in 2021

You might be an expert in your field or even the smartest person in the room—but that’s no guarantee of success! As a leader you need a set of skills that are compatible with the changing times and increasing obligations of your business. There is no crystal ball to help you predict what is going to happen in 2021, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be planning to improve your effectiveness as a manager moving forward.

  1. Strategic Thinking:  Don’t just involve yourself in today’s tasks…you want to think about the big picture. Set your priorities to align with your vision.
  2. Collaboration:  The most successful leaders are those who can inspire others to imagine new ways of working together. Imagine new partnerships, products and processes or restructuring work flow, workspace, teams and roles.
  3. Emotional Intelligence:  Your IQ alone can’t fuel the group’s success.  Recognize that as a leader, you are infectious. Be a source of energy, empathy and earned trust, proving positivity and practicality can co-exist.
  4. Critical Thinking:  Critical thinkers question conventional wisdom and are focused on identifying and questioning theories that underlie actions or inaction.  They strive to be independent thinkers.
  5. Communication:  Leaders who don’t communicate effectively get in the way of their team’s success. Make it your goal to master every form of interpersonal communication; one-to-one, small group, full staff, email, telephone, texting, social media, and of course, listening.
  6. Motivation:  Pay your employees fairly, but don’t stop there…understand the key essential motivators: expertise, independence, purpose and growth. Develop a personal growth strategy for each of your employees.
  7. Feedback:  Commit to wearing “feedback glasses” — new lenses through which you look at your staff and their work. You should give specific, helpful feedback to your team about their performance and their value to the organization.
  8. Tough Conversations:  Don’t avoid the tough conversations…become an expert at tackling challenges and problems early and often. Build trust as a leader by being forthright so people recognize your good intentions even in the midst of difficult conversations.
  9. Coaching:  This is an entirely different skill from fixing. It helps people learn to improve their work and make decisions for themselves.  If you are a supervisor who habitually fixes the work of others or if your folks are overly reliant on you for decisions it is no wonder why you’re frustrated and exhausted at the end of the day.  You need to learn to coach their growth.
  10. Making Values Visible and Viral:  Let people know what you stand for and make those conversations a part of your daily work. Tap into the vast reservoir of commitment and care that people bring to their work lives and make it safe to talk about values like integrity, diversity, community, and service…you will inspire them!

Each of these is a skill you can learn or improve upon. There’s nothing more rewarding than seeing careers and businesses progress as individuals grow from being okay managers to great leaders who understand the key skills of leadership.


Dave Baney is the founder and CEO of 55 Questions, LLC and author of “The 3×5 Coach: A Practical Guide to Coaching Your Team for Greater Results and Happier People”, which is now available in Paperback or a Kindle version at https://tinyurl.com/y8ecykfy

At 55 Questions, we work with successful top executives with a driving ambition to crush their competition.  We help CEOs and Entrepreneurs improve alignment, communication and accountability throughout their organization. www.55Questions.com

Follow Dave on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/davebaney55questions/