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4 Leadership Skills to Look for in 2021 and the Future

The pandemic has drastically changed the business landscape, as many companies and organizations experienced a loss in revenue ranging from 20 to as high as 60 percent. Millions of people lost their jobs as the crises of 2020 unfolded.

Covid-19 has impacted every single aspect of daily life and business leaders were confronted with a new reality they had to quickly adapt to if they wanted to ensure the survival of their companies and the security of their employees.

For so long, the idea many people had about what distinguished strong leadership fell into the category of task delegation and powerful direction. The year 2020 made sure that this was no longer the case. As we continue to wrestle with these unprecedented disruptions, we notice a shift in our perception of what makes a compelling leader.

This urges us to reexamine the leadership skills that are vital to guide companies and businesses into the future. Not only that but the crises of 2020 have pushed us to rethink the fundamentals of how we work and the very way we learn. The skill shifts in 2021 will dictate how successfully leaders can manage to lead their teams into an unconventional workplace.

Here are 4 leadership skills to look for in 2021 and the future.


“Leadership is about empathy. It is about having the ability to relate to and connect with people for the purpose of inspiring and empowering their lives.” -Oprah Winfrey

While effective communication has always been one of the most important skills to have in the workplace, 2020 has taught us that for communication to be effective, it requires a great deal of empathy. This was truly a trying time for leaders because they had to go beyond keeping everyone up to date.

They had to connect with each and every person in their team, listen to their concerns, and create a space where everyone felt comfortable talking about the challenges they were facing both in their professional and personal lives.

Empathy is not just a nice personality trait to have, it has become critical in building a work environment where employees feel heard and valued. Open, continuous, and empathetic communication is what will increase employee engagement and encourage productivity in the long run.

Healthy priorities

No matter which industry you’re in and no matter what job title you are holding, the last year has been incredibly demanding of your time, effort, energy, and especially motivation.

Difficulty adjusting to an ever-changing business landscape has led many to feel exhausted and burned out. The struggles seemed to be never-ending and every day came with its own set of challenges.

You’ve most likely encountered your fair share of insolvencies, some of which may have cost you your sleep and your peace of mind. If there is one essential skill to take with you in 2021 and beyond, it’s the ability to make healthy prioritizations.

Letting the stress, fear, and anxiety build up can be detrimental to your mental and physical well-being. This can ultimately lead to feeling uninspired and unmotivated, which will result in lower productivity and even accidents or mistakes. Leaders have to exhibit a sense of strength, but it’s also important to recognize that we’re all human and we’re susceptible to external factors and the way they affect us emotionally.

Checking in with your employees, inquiring about their well-being, and focusing on leading the self as well as the people instead of projects or ideas will make for a more promising and successful future.

Emotional agility

“How we deal with our inner world drives everything—how we live, love, parent, and lead. We need emotional agility, which stems from the courage to be authentic, to thrive in all realms of life.” -Susan Davis

Emotional agility isn’t merely how well you can control your emotions or how conscious and aware you are of those emotions in the first place. This skill transcends that limited understanding into the way you navigate your emotions.

You cannot do this without cultivating a certain level of mindfulness that allows you to detach your definition of who you are from the emotions that engulf you. It’s essential to learn that you are not your thoughts, and you are not your emotions, and so they do not define you.

As a leader, building your emotional agility will allow you to understand the intentions that govern your actions as well as the impact you want them to have. When your intentions are in accordance with the outcomes you seek to generate, your communication is a lot clearer and unprovoking.


"People want guidance, not rhetoric; they need to know what the plan of action is and how it will be implemented. They want to be given the responsibility to help solve the problem and the authority to act on it." -Howard Schultz

When you lead with empathy and compassion, it’s much easier to empower and inspire the people around you, and that’s the core of all great leadership. In a time of crisis, it’s important to understand that you don’t have to, and shouldn’t do all the decision-making.

While you should hold yourself accountable for the decisions you make, opting for a distributive approach can make for quicker and much more effective problem-solving where everyone is involved. Empowering your team and giving them accountability as well can have a positive impact on your organization, especially when it’s going through a rough patch.

In Conclusion

"The organization is, above all, social. It is people." -Peter Drucker

The work you do is not the reason you’re stressed out but it’s rather how you do it. When you develop and nurture the right set of skills, you can learn better ways to manage not only your workload and that of others, but everything in between as well. With a little more empathy, healthy prioritization, emotional agility, and empowerment, you are bound to set yourself, your team, and your company for success, in 2021 and the future.

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