8 Leadership Skills Harvard Thinks You Need to Be Successful

February 2, 2017

3:30 pm

Success is undeniably subjective. Some believe that corporate power and hearty bank accounts are what makes a person successful, while others feel that a network of close friends and a fulfilling job is more than enough. Whatever your definition of success is, one thing is always true: Harvard University is filled with smart people that know what they’re talking about. So when they tell you what you need to do to be successful, you listen.

According to a Harvard Business Publishing report titled Leading Now: Critical Capabilities for a Complex World, there are eight leadership skills that can dictate whether or not a person will be successful in the business world. Take a look at them below and prepare yourself for a life filled with promotions and pats on the back.

Complex Problem Solver

According to the report, “leaders who know how to manage complexity are skilled at solving problems and making decisions under fast-changing systems.” The world is constantly changing, particularly in business. A good leader, and thereby successful business person, is able to trust their instincts and immediately react complex problems that arise.

Global Leader

With the popularity of the internet and an increasingly globalized market, understanding global trends has become more important than ever. The report emphasizes the importance of this, saying that leaders need to understand “what’s happening with consumers, competitors, the economy, and the politics of the markets in which their businesses operate.”

Strategic Planner

While the value of instincts is undeniable, strategy is the key for successful leadership. Preparation is a quality found in almost all leaders, but this takes strategy to a different level, requiring a fluctuating strategy that can adapt to the world around them. “While older practices focused on long-term strategy development, today’s world requires a more continuous process,” reads the report.

Innovative Thinker

This one seems like a bit of a no brainer. Between technology and business, innovation is the only way to keep up with the pack. If you can’t think outside the box, what hope to you have of being successful? Your strategy can only go so far when you aren’t mixing things up, because, according to the report, “no strategy can sustain a company’s competitive edge indefinitely.”

Avid Networker

Being outgoing is one thing. But the ability to communicate, connect, and do business with “customers, suppliers, strategic partners, and even competitors” is an invaluable skill when it comes to business leadership. Creating relationships is the only way to get ahead, and networking is the only real way to do it right.

Engagement Inspirer 

Everyone knows that working at a job doesn’t mean working hard at a job. Engaged employees are the difference between a successful company and a floundering company, which is why a leader that can inspire is more valuable than anything else. After all, “people can occupy jobs for years, but they won’t create value for their organizations if they’re not invested in their work,” reads the report.

Adaptable Leader

No one likes a panicky leader. If you want to be successful, you have to understand that times change, and you need to change with them. Getting stuck in a business rut with the same old tactics never works. As the reports says, “adaptable leaders steer clear of a ‘that’s how we’ve always done it’ mentality.” Stop living in the past if you want to be a good leader.

Effective Agility Teacher

Learning agility can make all the difference when it comes to effective employees. Successful leadership is defined by people that can “continuously experiment with new approaches, using techniques such as rapid prototyping. They take time to reflect on their experiences so they can learn from successes and failures,” according to the report.

H/T World Economic Forum

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Conor is a writer, comedian and world-renowned sweetheart. As the Assistant Editor and Writer at Tech.Co, he’s written about everything from Kickstarter campaigns and budding startups to tech titans and innovative technologies. His background in stand-up comedy made him the perfect person to host Startup Night at SXSW and the Timmy Awards for Tech in Motion. In his spare time, he thinks about how to properly pronounce the word "colloquially." Conor is the Assistant Editor and Writer at Tech.Co. You can email him at conor@tech.co.

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