10 key skills today’s leaders need to succeed in 2013

What sets the most successful managers apart from others? You might be an expert in your field, even the smartest person in the room — but that’s no guarantee of success. You need an array of skills that are particularly well-suited to times of change and challenge. Here are 10 I recommend.

1. Strategic Thinking
Don’t just immerse yourself in today’s tasks. Think big picture. Step back from the dance floor from time to time and take the balcony view (Hat tip for that great metaphor to the book, Leadership on the Line.”) Review systems. Set priorities aligned with major goals. Learn new and scary things. Encourage innovation by backing good people who take smart risks.

2. Collaboration
Overcome the four barriers to collaboration I’ve written about before. Read more


The 4 D’s that can derail a difficult conversation

It ranks among the least appealing but most important management duties: conducting tough talks with employees. Bosses are required to hold people accountable, let them know what’s expected of them, and keep them informed — even when the news isn’t good.

Many managers tell me they wish they were better at handling difficult conversations. Their reasons for avoiding or bungling them can range from “I hate conflict and come on too soft” to “I have a short fuse and talk myself into trouble.”

Few managers get specialized training in this area, other than perhaps an HR primer on company policies and protocols. But a real, practical immersion in what works best in a variety of situations — that’s a rarity. Managers usually learn by trial and error. Read more


Great Bosses avoid bad email breath: 3 tips to instantly improve your communication

Communication is like breathing. We do it all the time, so we can easily take it for granted. But managers who want to become great bosses understand that communication isn’t a function — it’s a skill, one you can develop. And just as bad breath can put distance between you and others, so can stinky communication skills.

So today, let me offer three quick tips to instantly improve your communication competence:

1. Review your email strategy.

Note that I’m assuming you HAVE a strategy, which may be a stretch. If not, develop one right now. Start with your own email mission statement, one that understands your organization and your role. Your statement should also take into account the dangers and traps that email presents. Check this past column of mine for the list.

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