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The One Leadership Skill You Must Master to Survive and Thrive The Twenty-Twenties

Updated: Aug 20, 2020

Written by: Betsy Kauffman, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise

A peer of mine ran a poll on LinkedIn a few weeks ago inquiring, what is the most critical leadership skill to develop in 2020? Here are the results based on the options provided at the time of writing this article:

  • Courage to Take a Stand - 6%

  • Conversation Skills - 15%

  • Care & Empathy - 62%

  • Concise Decision Making - 18%

I remember when I initially took the poll, I was really challenged to pick only one because I felt like all of them are incredibly critical, especially as we are in the second half of 2020.


As you can see, the majority chose Care & Empathy. While I do not disagree with them, I have to say I am slanting to a derivative of Conversation Skills. It is not so much the ability to converse but more about the ability to communicate. And not just communicate but communicate well and in a timely fashion.


As I see it, communication is the foundation for providing care and empathy to our employees, making concise decisions, and having the courage to take a stand. Especially now.


Most of our workforce is still virtual and will continue to be for who knows how long. Therefore, information is not as free-flowing as it was when we were in the office and able to have informal in-person conversations. Little did we realize, pre-pandemic, how much information was exchanged during those informal moments. We probably now really value how much those moments and conversations were needed to complete our work and get us through the day.


Employees need leaders to overly communicate and discuss topics that are relevant, timely, and critical to performing their work now more than ever. As leaders, we need to be extremely intentional with communication. Have you taken time to consider what questions you should be asking yourself and your team when creating that intentional communication “plan”? I urge you to consider the following and use these as part of an ongoing conversation between your employees and yourself:


  1. How often do my teams need me to meet with them to keep them up to date on what is going on?

  2. How often do I need to meet one on one with my people to understand how they are doing mentally and emotionally?

  3. What forms of communication tend to resonate with everyone?

  4. Do my teams have what they need to successfully perform their jobs virtually? This should be an ongoing conversation.

  5. Am I responding in a timely manner to my team's emails and making decisions that enable them to keep moving their work forward?

And finally, turn on those cameras! Communication becomes much more productive when we can see facial expressions, share a laugh, have an impromptu virtual happy hour, and get a glimpse that everyone (including our leaders) are dealing with the same realities that come with working from home.


Now that I have shared my thoughts, I am curious to hear yours. What do you think is the most critical leadership skill to develop based on the events of 2020 and heading into 2021?


Follow me on Facebook, LinkedIn and visit my website for more info!

Betsy Kauffman, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Betsy Kauffman is a globally recognized Leadership and Organizational Agility Coach with more than 20 years' experience working in Fortune 500 companies. Her company, Cross Impact Coaching, helps leaders create innovative, aligned, disruptive organizations. Betsy has observed and worked side by side with hundreds of CxO leaders and has seen just about every variation of how Leadership Teams operate and execute (both successfully and not so successfully). She deeply understands and has experienced firsthand when the team of individuals charged with leading the organization aren't aligned, focused, and working as one, the rest of the organization suffers. She is a published author providing thought leadership to both the agile and project management communities and speaks internationally on topics around leadership, corporate culture, and achieving organizational agility.  She is currently in the process of developing her first TED talk in conjunction with the TED@PMI partnership to be released in September, 2020.

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