The Crucial Skill for Tomorrow’s Leaders

What is the single most important skill that leaders of the future will need?


  1. Dr. Angel Cabrera, President, Thunderbird School of Management

    1. Future leaders need the trust of their followers.
    2. There is not a leader without followers.
    3. Any follower takes a leap of faith trusting the judgment of the leader.
    4. Trust is hard to build but easy to lose.
    5. Particularly with todays technological tools where you are exposed for both good and bad in a real time manner
    6. Most important job for the leader is how to use all of the tools available to build trust, preserve trust and not to loose it.
  2. Bill George, Professor, Harvard Business School

    1. Leadership is not about skills, its about the character of the leader and the person within.
    2. Most important thing a leader has to do is to find their authentic voice and authentic self.
    3. They can then be genuine and establish connected relationships with people.
    4. This comes from an understanding of one’s life story, difficult times they have had dealing with destructive emotions, and having a sense of purpose, passion, and mission of how they want to lead.
    5. If you do not know where you are going why would I want to follow you?
    6. Every leader must have a sense of purpose of why am I leading, what do I want to accomplish here and can I rally people, and align them around this common sense of purpose and can we lead with a common sense of values so that everyone in the organization is congruent with those values.
  3. Daisy Wademan Dowling, Leadership Development at Morgan Stanley

    1. Leaders can’t be effective unless they have two things:
      1. They have to have empathy, to understand the people around them and where they are coming from because if they cannot have that human connection with people they are leading or working around I don’t think they can lead effectively. They will not be able to understand people’s motivations and get people excited about the direction they have set.
    2. Future leaders need to have a relentless desire to build capacity in the people around them; leaders need to be teachers.
  4. Andy Zelleke, Lecturer in Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School

    1. Future leaders will need a devotion to others: community, society and other organizations.
  5. Batia Mishan Wiesenfeld, Professor, Leonard N. Stern School of Business, NYU

    1. Most important trait is when the leader is giving direction is for them to always get in the habit of explaining why.
    2. Why you are asking them to do something and why you are doing something forces the leader to identify the underlying values that are driving your behavior or your request.
    3. This insures you are communicating those values to others creating accountability by matching the reasons, explanations and values for asking for something are aligned with actual practices.
    4. Explaining “why” is the most important skill.
  6. Evan Wittenberg, Head of Global Leadership, Google Inc.

    1. Most important skill is curiosity.
      1. The world is terribly complex as leaders work across boundaries, organizational boundaries, and across countries, etc.
      2. The only way to do this effectively is to admit that you do not know everything, and to be curious and inquisitive about different environments  and  not make assumptions.
  7. Dr. Ellen Langer, Professor, Harvard University

    1. Leaders of the future would prosper by being more mindful.
      1. Noticing new things.
      2. This allows you to take advantage of opportunities and to avoid dangers not yet arisen.
    2. Mindful leaders will not apply yesterday solutions to todays problems.
  8. Scott Snook, Associate Professor, Harvard business School

    1. Future leaders need a sense of their true calling.
      1. Many leaders are highly competent but in the service of what or why?
      2. We find this search in our students, executives, down through elementary school.
      3. The search for me, why am I doing what I am doing.
    2. Clarity of purpose is the bedrock of leaders of the future.

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