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Five Key Skills of an Effective Context Leader

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Inclusiveness: Hierarchical decision-making is frequently too slow to be effective in an agile environment. Decisions that have to travel up the organization for approval and back down again for implementation create bottlenecks and delays that can cause companies to lose to their competition. Inclusive decision-making, with accountability that is spread more widely and deeply, is more effective.

Curiosity: The VUCA world moves too fast to rely solely on subject matter expertise. Great context leaders need to develop deeper curiosity, asking open questions to gain new insights, while growing their people and sharing responsibility with their teams. We need to support leaders in developing their skills of asking curious questions and helping their team members draw new, stronger conclusions. Ultimately, we should support leaders in developing a coaching approach to management.

Authenticity: Context leaders have to create strong connections with people across their organizations, and a foundation for this connection is authenticity. By approaching situations in a way that is aligned with their values, and presenting their vision in a way that authentic, leaders can help a broader organization align to a shared context.

Courage: Finally, it takes guts to forego direct ownership of decisions and share responsibility more broadly across the organization. It feels risky to stop playing the expert role and step into a role of coach or collaborator. But, these changes are needed to leverage the diversity of organizations, empower employees and achieve stronger business results.

Every day, we make decisions, large or small, within a specific context. In the face of VUCA, this context is constantly shifting. Businesses today need people who are prepared to step into a new form of leadership, using stronger social skills of open, inclusive communication and a collaborative and curious working style to lead their organizations to stronger business results.

This article was originally published on the ICF Blog.

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