Beyond Reskilling: Building Leadership Capabilities

It looks like the future holds even more complex problems and conflicts in store for us. The limits of our economic, social and emotional capacities will be tested, whether we are tackling pandemics, global warming or other major challenges. 

This is the first in a new series of posts on six capabilities that will be needed by organizational leaders, and the leader within each of us, to move into a future where skills will not be enough.

Resilience. Empathy. Creativity. Courage. Imagination. Curiosity.

These capabilities are partly innate and partly developed. Each enables us to see and explore unseen possibilities and opportunities.

In future posts, I will discuss how each can be acquired through practice, and how all of them impact both individuals and organizations.

It is important to know that the six capabilities in question complement one another. For instance, curiosity, courage and creativity are interdependent. And none of them can be built or enhanced, or become a significant operating behavior, without the open mindset to grow and learn.

The idea is that these capabilities are acquired at the individual level but then integrated into teams and organizations. Creativity, imagination and courage will need to be combined to allow success in an uncertain world.

The last post in the series will be about creating resonant collaboration, or what Peter Senge, in his seminal book, refers to as team learning. Resonant collaboration occurs when individual capabilities allow for a deeper and more meaningful collaboration with others.

When talking about resilience, many of us apply the common definition: the ability to move past some sort of distraction or crisis. But the truth is there are physical, emotional, and social facets to resilience. This future we are facing will require all three.

In exploring resilience in this blog, I’ll talk about coming back to personal center so that the executive brain (prefrontal cortex) fully functions and enables action. It allows us to move beyond fear, overwhelm and other feelings that sidetrack us.

If you understand empathy as the ability to walk in someone else’s shoes, you have a good idea of how to build it in yourself. In current research with corporate leaders, 75% say empathy is the main capability the workforce needs more of right now. My post on empathy will include a practice to build it and some questions you can ask yourself when interacting with others.

You may feel that creativity is something we’re born with, or not. You might have a talent for painting or drawing. If you can only draw stick figures, like me, your creativity still gets expressed in other ways. I polled a group about this once, and was amazed by the answers. One person said cooking was their creative outlet, one said it was fixing machines, another designing courses, another bringing interesting people together. Well, you get the idea! So, we will explore building creativity in the service of the work we do and the products we make for our organization.

According to a Deloitte Insights white paper, “Imagination supersedes what is known to expand our outlook,” while creativity exists in a defined space of a product innovation or problem. We have often heard the troubles of companies like Kodak or Blockbuster, and even the U.S. government, attributed to a failure of imagination. There is a great need for imagination to innovate our way through the coming decades.

As for curiosity, our culture tends to look for ways to “sell” a point of view. It is a culture of advocacy. However, asking questions is more important for learning and finding new information and innovative ideas. We can begin to develop the habit of asking meaningful questions more often than we offer our viewpoint.

More later.

This post is part of our Beyond Reskilling series. If you missed any of these posts you can click HERE to read them all!

Be sure to check out my new white paper: Leadership at the Edge of Business.

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