2 quick ways to identify the leadership skills you need for rapid growth

The starting point for accelerating leadership development is to focus on the key leadership skills that will really make a difference to performance.

So what are the key skills that future leaders of high-growth, high-change organisation need to learn to improve their effectiveness in the face of ever increasing complexity?

Here are 2 quick ways you can identify them:

1. Defining Specific Leadership Skills

In an ideal world, you should define the specific leadership skills that your organisation needs to be successful, given its business goals.

One cost-effective and time-efficient way of doing that is to hold a facilitated strategy session with the key stakeholders.  The session is to help them define the “Future Perfect” for the organisation.  The facilitator, projects them forward one or two years and asks them to describe what is happening in the successful organisation.  They then describe the behaviours and skills that leaders need to achieve that.

Individual leaders can then identify what they do already, what leadership skills they already possess and what immediate development will have the greatest impact on their performance and that of the organisation.

 2.  Using Generic Leadership Skills

An alternative to defining custom-made leadership behaviours is to learn from others who have already grown and changed rapidly.

One source is India.  In India, many businesses are seeking to double, triple and quadruple their revenues over the next decade, if not sooner. In recent years, Indian companies have begun to show great interest in leadership training and development.

What can we learn from their experience?

In 2008 the Tata Management Training Center (TMTC) and the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL-Asia) published a report called “Developing Future Leaders for High-Growth Indian Companies”.  This report summarised their research with 71 senior executives from eight high-growth global Indian companies.

The findings showed the leaders had learned many key lessons resulting in a shift in attitudes, values, knowledge, behaviour or skill level. Of these, 35% relate to self, 30% to other people, 30% to running the business, and 5% to the meaning of leadership.

  1. Leading Self. These lessons are about how leaders manage themselves—their thoughts, emotions, actions, and attitudes. Specific skills include: Confidence; self-awareness; understanding and committing to life and career goals; and integrity.
  2. Leading Others.  These lessons are about how leaders manage relationships and influence others.  Specific skills include: Interpersonal and social skills; Managing and motivating subordinates; developing subordinates; and team management/development.
  3. Leading the Business.  These lessons are about managing a unit, department, or organisation. Specific skills include: Operational management; innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship; functional knowledge; and gathering information, knowledge, and insight i.e. the essentials of
  4. Meaning of Leadership.  These lessons are distilled from years of experience and result in a leader’s personal formula for success in how to lead self, others, and the business.

A summary of the lessons learned is shown below:

The Variety of Lessons Learned by Indian Senior Executives





Developing Confidence*


Understanding & Committing to Life Goals*


Emotional Intelligence

Dealing with Setbacks

Developing Flexibility &  Adaptability

Seeing Things From a New Perspective

Dealing with Ambiguity

Managing and Motivating Subordinates*

Developing Subordinates*

Team Management*

Cultural Awareness

Building Relationships with Peers and Superiors

Building Credibility

Communication & Feedback

Gaining Influence

Managing Multiple Stakeholders


Understanding of Execution & Operation Management*Innovation, Creativity & Entrepreneurship*

Functional Knowledge*

Gathering Information, Knowledge & Insights*

Decision-making & Problem-solving

Acquiring a Broad Organizational View & Strategic Insight

Customer Orientation

Managing Organizational & Cultural Change

*Top 11 lessons

Source – Developing Future Leaders for High-Growth Indian Companies: New Perspectives (Center for Creative Leadership & TATA)


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