Sharpen These 6 Skills and Set Yourself Apart

Want to stand out as a leader? Excel at skills where there is a strong need and weak capacity.

We recently analyzed data from 2,339 managers in 24 organizations in 3 countries to understand the leadership gap — the skills that organizations need but their leaders don’t have. Six key gaps were found:


  1. Inspire commitment. Managers who recognize and reward employees’ achievements are able to inspire commitment from their subordinates. These managers publicly praise others for their performance, understand what motivates other people to perform at their best and provide tangible rewards for significant organizational achievements.
  1. Lead employees. Leaders who have good skills in directing and motivating people know how to interact with staff in ways that motivate them. They delegate to employees effectively, broaden employee opportunities, act with fairness toward direct reports and hire talented people for their teams.
  1. Plan strategically. This skill involves translating vision into realistic business strategies. Managers who are highly competent in this area typically articulate long-term objectives and strategies, develop plans that balance long-term goals with immediate needs, update plans to reflect changing circumstances and develop plans that contain contingencies for future changes.
  1. Manage change. Skilled leaders have developed effective strategies for facilitating organizational change. Such a manager views change positively, adapts plans as necessary, manages others’ resistance to change, adapts to the changing external pressures facing the organization and involves others in the design and implementation of change. 
  1. Develop employees. A manager skilled in the area of employee development usually coaches employees to improve performance, provides employees with guidance, encourages employees to develop careers and makes sure employees understand their roles.
  1. Practice self-awareness. This skill involves recognizing personal limits and strengths. Self-aware managers admit personal mistakes, learn from mistakes, seek ongoing feedback and know themselves well.

If you can sharpen your skills in these areas, you’ll improve your ability to address complex future challenges—and set yourself apart.

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