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Over half the global working population requires significant up-skilling or re-skilling*. By 2022. It’s a topic on everybody’s lips, and on most** 2019 integrated reports up-skilling is both a strategic imperative and a KPI for all key leadership appointments.

So what? Well, these things don’t just happen. Sure – there are a plethora of Ed-tech solutions that’ll get your people learning (at a cost)***. And HR is a good business partner to lead cross- and up-skilling campaigns. But have you considered what this means for your leadership strategies?

Change hurts. It really does – ask anyone who’s been through an ERP implementation. The imperative to overhaul old ways of working, communicating and transacting can be overwhelming. Who’s going to lead your people through change, and allow them to thrive in a different kind of work environment? People with people skills, that’s who. And people skills can’t be learnt from a webinar or from a spreadsheet or in a half-day workshop. They are developed over years and years of hard work, bravery, and critical self-reflection.

We place a great deal of emphasis on cognitive and rational skills. But people-smart leaders always surround themselves with people who are more skilled than they are, so depth of technical know-how shouldn’t be such a big deal. Shouldn’t be the biggest deal, rather – in a highly competitive world you can’t be only one kind of smart and get to the top. In an increasingly unpredictable world, leaders need to be culturally adaptable, communicative, empathetic, resilient, collaborative. The kinds of people that other people will want to follow. Get it wrong, and you could be in trouble. The right hire – think Satya Nadella (Microsoft), Tim Cook (Apple), Mary Barra (GM) – could totally flip the script and lead your people into this new decade with minimal fallout.

*The Future of Jobs Report – WEF 2018.

** Amazon, Google, Absa, Oceana Group, Shell, L’Oreal, Beiersdorf and others. Change leadership is key to all but the most half-baked strategies.

***Think GetSmarter, TTRO, or Udemy, alongside a host of tailored options for your business.

Author Info: Tracy Dawson

“I’m fascinated by the characteristics of top performers – their approach, their ethos and their orientation. Every interview adds to my pool of knowledge and interest”.

Tracy’s career started somewhat eclectically. First a high school teacher, specialising in English, then teaching abroad, working with a social sport organisation, being a lounge pianist, and then translocating and rehabilitating reptiles (yes, reptiles).

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