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Skills Needed To Be A 21st-Century Leader

We are in the 21st century. The rules of the game are changing and there are strikingly different requirements for today’s leaders.

What skills make the difference in 21st-century leadership? 

To be a leader in the 21st century, you must have the skills to remain relevant in these ever-changing times. It is necessary to build up the skills, competencies, network and experience that prepare you for inspiring leadership at the highest level. 

Here are some of the skills needed to be an effective leader in the 21st Century:

  1. Problem-solving skill
  2. Creativity
  3. Emotional Intelligence
  4. Strategic Thinking
  5. Digital Literacy
  6. Communication skills 

"A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus, but a molder of consensus."
- Martin Luther King, Jr.

problem-solving skill

As a leader, you are operating in a fast moving and ever changing environment; from knowing what products /services to bring to market, what new technology to utilise to address operational efficiencies, working effectively with hybrid teams, silent quitting, great resignation etc etc. No problem is the same.

Leaders with adaptive problem-solving skills will have the mindset, to see problems as opportunities, find solutions quickly with their teams and thereby achieve organisational success and growth.


Creativity does not always come in the sense of having a revolutionary idea.

It may simply introduce a different solution to a recurring problem or a suggestion to improve a situation or process.

The objective of having creativity as a 21st-century skill is precisely to be a leader who can bring a new look to the team and the organisation, instead of just conforming to the way everything has been done for years.

emotional intelligence

Being able to understand and manage your own emotions, as well as the emotions of others, is crucial for effective leadership.

This includes being able to communicate effectively, resolve conflicts, be empathetic and build strong relationships.

strategic thinking

Leaders need to be able to see the big picture. This includes being able to identify opportunities, consider all the variables and estimating probability to align with the overall mission and vision of the organisation.

Being successful in business without strategic thinking is very difficult, since strategic thinking enables the creation of long-term goals, choice of investments, resource allocation, and prediction of outcomes.

Thankfully strategic thinking is a skill that can be learnt.

digital literacy

Understanding new business models, business processes, and methods for providing products/ services are all part of digital literacy.

As much as digital literacy includes systems, processes and hardware, it also concerns your people.

Digital literacy is a significant skills gap for leaders in the 21st Century currently.

communication skill

Effective leaders are good communicators. They ensure that their message is relevant and delivered in a way for the intended recipient to understand. They have presence, authority and impact. Therefore, when an effective leader speaks, everyone listens.

However, effective communication is not simply putting words on paper or speaking smoothly using perfect grammar. It is also about being able to transmit information in a way that motivates team members.

Team members don’t tend to work as hard for a leader who demands and commands rather than motivates and inspires. Effective communication is a key skill that modern leaders must develop. 

"Coaching is destined to be the leadership approach of the 21st century."
- James A. Belasco

These skills listed are considered to be 21st-century skills because they are particularly important in today’s world, rapid change, globalisation and the widespread use of technology.

Problem-solving, creativity, emotional intelligence, strategic thinking, digital literacy and communication are particularly crucial in the 21st century because they enable leaders to navigate the complex and rapidly changing environment of the modern world.

Leadership coaching can be a valuable way for leaders to develop and improve these skills. It can be an effective way for leaders to gain the knowledge and skills they need to be successful in the 21st century.

A leadership coach can help leaders identify their strengths and weaknesses, set goals, and create a plan for achieving those goals and how to remain relevant.

Leadership coaching can also provide a supportive and confidential space for leaders to discuss challenges and receive feedback. By working with a coach, leaders can gain new perspectives and develop strategies for addressing the unique challenges that they face in their roles.

With our 1-2-1 leadership coaching we support you in the transformation to an effective 21st Century Leader.

Things are changing rapidly, you need to ensure that you remain relevant in the 21st Century!

CLICK HERE to learn more about our 1-2-1 leadership coaching.

Live YOUR Passion!

Picture of Georgina Terry FCCA PMP, Passions to Profitability Expert
Georgina Terry FCCA PMP, Passions to Profitability Expert
My mission is to help you live YOUR Passion by providing you with the tools you need to live your life by desire and design, and NOT by default, so you can achieve your version of freedom!

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