Article by guest writer, Roane Jenison
Today’s business world is ever-changing, which is causing many to feel uncertain about the future of their career or business plans. In fact, 85% of CEOs reveal that business is even more uncertain today due to new needs and challenges, like managing hybrid workers, adapting to technological advancements, and the rapidly evolving communication platforms — issues past leaders didn’t encounter.
Business leaders can and must be ready to take on these emerging changes and challenges through upskilling. After all, the success of a business heavily rests on how its leader operates. To help you get started, here are a few ways leaders can approach upskilling to improve the future prospect of their business succeeding in these changing times.
Invest in formal learning
Change Management is the concept and approach to handling transitions or transformations within an organization. This is how businesses implement change today: by proactively affecting it and helping employees adapt to it.
To ensure they keep up with the latest best practices and trends, more and more business leaders are investing in formal education by going back to school. One reason for this is that many universities now offer business programs tailored for leaders looking to upskill.
For those seeking a traditional degree, universities have online programs to earn a change-management, focused degree, which is ideal for business leaders wanting a thorough education but also the flexibility to continue managing their business. An online organizational leadership degree helps undergraduates focus on skills in critical thinking, conflict management, and problem-solving, which are essential for helping future business leaders implement change management strategies, without the need to be on campus.
Another, equally formal but less time-consuming, education option is for leaders to earn professional certifications. Certifications help prove the extent of your theoretical and practical knowledge as well as increase your credibility since you have to pass an exam covering certain standards of expertise.
A professional certification is a badge of excellence that informs others of your dedication to self-improvement and high-quality business outcomes. Here at Arrowhead Consulting, we offer training and exam prep classes — ranging from aid with project management (PMP) certification to Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) — that can support your efforts in this regard.
Seek executive coaching
There are many times when even leaders need guidance—especially when you cannot determine what skills you may need to upskill. In this case, you can seek executive coaching, which is professional development specifically for leaders.
Executive coaching focuses on maximizing your leadership skills to become better suited for your particular organizational role through the pointers and feedback an executive coach will provide you in a one-on-one meeting format. For example, coaches can highlight gaps in communication efforts with employees and help you address them through practicing strategies like asking open-ended questions and active listening.
Seeking the help of an executive coach will help you gain self-awareness, learn techniques to better achieve leadership goals, and unlock untapped potential so that you acquire skills that will enhance the future of your business and career.
Identify and sharpen your strengths
While upskilling focuses on gaining additional skills, it can also be applied to polish your strengths and minimize shortcomings. As an example, if already excel at open communication, you can improve further by proactively asking employees for feedback or becoming more approachable when concerns arise.
Improving on your strengths is a good way to maximize efficiency in boosting your leadership performance, but what if you need help identifying them first? In this case, you can use leadership assessment tools, such as Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI®), StrengthsFinders 2.0, or Insights Discovery Colors.
The leadership development courses we provide at Arrowhead Consulting use these scientifically-backed assessments to help determine your strengths, personality traits, and leadership style, and based on the results we can develop a customized plan for performance improvement and sharpen your current strengths even further.
Adopt a lifelong-learning mindset
Lifelong learning is a self-initiated approach to education for an individual’s personal or professional development that can help leaders keep up with the changing times. It does require the right mindset that prioritizes practicing lifelong learning, but it ensures that upskilling stays on track and that you’re ready to take on any future changes thrown your way.
One way to adopt this mindset and practice is by finding opportunities for education, exposure, and experience. This looks like creating a habit of reading up on industry trends, exposing yourself to new projects or experiences, and putting what you’ve learned into practice at work.
With a lifelong-learning mindset, you won’t have to worry about “catching up”. Instead, you're continuously preparing to confront, experiment, and adjust yourself to changing needs and challenges because you've already equipped yourself with new skills.
The future of a business rests in its leadership. Upskilling through formal learning, executive coaching, identifying and sharpening strengths, and adopting a lifelong-learning mindset makes for a leader who can adapt to the future