The No. 1 leadership skill you must have

There is one leadership skill that ranks above all others in determining your success as a leader. It was recently confirmed by more than 200 next-generation leaders at the AICPA EDGE Conference in Las Vegas. That skill is the ability to inspire and motivate others. Inspiration is the ability to create an experience of possibility about the future in yourself and others.

The ability to inspire and motivate others was found to be THE pivotal competency, above all others, in research published by Chief Learning Officer magazine. This critical competency was supported by other key leadership skills like collaboration, strategic and critical thinking, anticipation, serving evolving needs, communication, and innovation. Together, this bundle of leadership skills was found to actually increase productivity (by more than 10 percent), profits (by double), and engagement and satisfaction by the followers of inspirational leaders.

Why are these skills so important today?

To put it simply, "what got us here won't get us there." The leader of old used to compete to win; the leader of the new collaborates to win. The leader of old fitted in; the leader of new values diversity. The leader of old used command and control (management styles); the leader of new connects and inspires.” — Raghu Krishnamoorthy, vice president of executive development, GE

The skills many of us "experienced leaders" have were perfectly suited to the "industrial era" and not the exponential and transformative times we find ourselves in now. Leaders today are leading people in an era of fast-paced change. Leaders today are leading overwhelmed employees who are constantly distracted with the attention span of goldfish. Leaders today are leading in a time of incredible opportunity for those who can inspire and co-create the fast-future. Leaders to day need these five critical skills:

  1. Inspiring and motivating others
  2. Communication
  3. Strategic and critical thinking
  4. Innovation and creativity
  5. Anticipating and serving evolving needs

How do you get these skills?

Our BLI Leadership Academy has a 10-year track record of developing inspirational leaders who are equipped to lead themselves and others in these rapidly changing times. It starts with strategic thinking and the understanding the context of the external environment, then turns internal to the strengths and values of the individual leader. To lead well, you have to lead yourself first. We emphasize positive, strengths-based leadership and how to keep your perspective when everything is changing. Finally, we equip the leaders with powerful collaboration and facilitation skills and tangible tools. They come away being able to mobilize groups, teams and even organizations to co-create the future, solve problems and take advantage of opportunities.


There is still time to register for this year's Leadership Academy, scheduled for Aug. 24-26 in Towson, Md.

And don't miss our on-demand learning system featuring 28 nano-learning lessons with rapid application templates to build these skills in an hour a week: The Anticipatory Organization: Accounting and Finance Edition.

Check out our whitepaper from our 2011 Leadership Academy class: What Got You Here Won't Get You There.


Thomas Hood